I just installed Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro via Boot Camp.

On the activation screen after I carefully entered the key on the label on the DVD case, Windows reported that my product key was not valid.

After trying several times I clicked "skip" with the understanding that I'm going to have to activate it within a month.

I bought a copy Windows labeled "OEM System Builder Pack" off of Amazon. Could that be why it's refusing to activate?

Is it that the OEM version can't be installed on Macs?

Or is it more likely some other reason?

What's the logical next step?

Looking in Control Panel > System and Security > System, at the bottom of the dialog, it says "Three days until automatic activation. Activate Windows now."

Then below that a number labeled "product ID" which is different from the "product key" on the CD case. And a link labeled "change product key".

Based on that, I don't understand the status of my system (activated? will definitely be activated? not possible to activate?) or what Microsoft wants me to do (click on something? If so, what? change the product key?) What do they want from me?

Here's the product page on Amazon, where I purchased the license. The seller was Amazon itself.

As requested by Bon Gart in the comments, here's a pic of the DVD:

enter image description here

  • 1
    This isn't an answer, so I'm putting it here. What does the DVD itself say? Is it an authentic Windows DVD? Does it say on it that it is an OEM installer, or a Retail installer? Is it a label that was printed and stuck on the disc? Could you provide a picture of the actual disc? (not the product key sticker of course) It is possible that although you purchased it off Amazon, it was not legitimate. Have you contacted the company who sold it to you through Amazon? An OEM product key will work with an OEM installer of the SAME version, if the product key has never been activated before.
    – Bon Gart
    Jul 4, 2013 at 2:42
  • To answer your question, the seller was Amazon. Not a third party vendor -- "Ships from and sold by Amazon."
    – Ethan
    Jul 4, 2013 at 8:56

2 Answers 2


If the product key was for OEM Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, meaning if all that is spelled out above the product key on the sticker, then it should have activated with the disc you have shown us.

It is possible (even if unlikely) that you mis-typed the key when you attempted to activate. An 8 instead of a B, or an O instead of a 0, an H instead of a K, etc. I know that's a long shot, but I had to include it on the off chance.

I can positively say that I have successfully activated OEM installer versions of Windows (up through and including several Windows 7 installations) with OEM product keys. Most of them were fresh installs of Windows using the OEM keys on the bottom of laptops, but there were also a mess of desktops in there. In the heady days of Windows XP, I was recycling those keys of dead machines and re-using them. sigh

From everything you describe; the seller, the disc, the product key sticker... it should still activate. You may have to use the phone activation system however. I had to recently, when I used the OEM key from a dead Toshiba, to install Windows 7 on a desktop.

  • Click Start.
  • Right Click Computer
  • Choose Properties
  • At the bottom, choose Activate Windows Now
  • From the Wizard Popup, choose Use the automated phone system to activate. enter image description here
  • Follow the prompts, answer the questions, call the number they give you, jump through the hoops.
    From the Microsoft Article here. I believe this will solve your issue.

At the end, again, providing the OEM key has never been used before, it should activate.

If it does not, then your next call should be to Amazon to exchange this purchase for another of the same. Yes, I would take this to be some kind of fluke. I would describe the issue to them, and rather than demanding a refund I would just ask them to provide another of the same. This will make them more likely to actually just ship it out. They might give you some flak about it being software, etc... just be clear and sure about the fact that Microsoft is repeatedly telling you that it isn't a valid product key.

From what I'm reading, there are plenty of people installing OEM versions of Windows 7 on Macs via Bootcamp... it actually seems quite popular. Most of their posted issues are with attempting to use the same copy for the installation AND a VM installation, and having to activate it twice in that instance. This is NOT the issue you are facing, but I'm including that information because they have no issues with an OEM copy of Windows 7 for the first activation. They run into issues when attempting to install it again, in a VM (or Parallels) and try to activate it a second time on what may (and can) appear to be different hardware. Their first activation (just like yours) works like a charm.

So try the Automated Phone Activation System.

  • Thanks a lot for the help Bon Gart. I was finally able to activate Windows 7.
    – Ethan
    Jul 10, 2013 at 19:49

This is a gray area. Pun intended. Amazon and others (such as Best Buy) have been selling these keys somewhat illegally. They are intended for manufacturers but are being sold to home users. The keys should work but Microsoft can't be happy about this.

The Boot Camp issue may be a bit different. I used a different emulator (Parallels) and mine claimed a week after install to suddenly not be a valid key. I then used a different one from another PC of mine and it's finally shut up.

  • Dude, that's not even close to what happens Jul 4, 2013 at 10:56

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