I have a laptop with Windows 7 as the OS. Suddenly today, the screen became black with a message stating "Build 7601, this copy of windows is not genuine." I got this laptop a few months ago from someone else but it never gave them problems and the computer is about 4-5 years old. The product key is faded on the underside of the laptop. Is there any way to reactivate the OS without purchasing a new product key? Thank you!


There are programs that you can use to retrieve the product key.
Assuming the key is a legally obtained one, you could use that to reactivate Windows.

I've used Magical Jelly Bean key finder before with success.


This can occur once in a while when Windows happens to check its authenticity when the Software Protection happens to not be running. It’s easy to fix:

  1. Press ⊞Win+Run
  2. Enter services.msc and click [OK]
  3. Locate the Software Protection service
  4. Right-click it and select Start
  5. Optionally, double-click the service and ensure that its Start type is set to Automatic (Delayed Start)
  6. Close the Services MMC snap-in

ProduKey is a safe way to retreive your product key.


It may have been they were using a version of Windows 7 where any number of known hacks have been applied to activate it.

the computer is about 4-5 years old.

Given that Windows 7 was released around the same time on July 22, 2009, it's entirely possible that Vista originally came on this system and the previous owners took desperate measures to not use Vista.

If you recently updated Office, one of the updates may have caused a validation which failed. If the previous owners didn't bother to update Windows or Office, this may have gone undetected by them.

Is there any way to reactivate the OS without purchasing a new product key?

You would need to find or enter the key that is on the underside of the laptop. If it's a Vista key, it won't work. You may also try calling Microsoft customer support and see if they are willing to work with you.

Without that, there is no other legal way to activate Windows 7. (Disclaimer: IANAL)


Most likely the laptop came with Windows 7 preinstalled. What can you find out the manufacturer's website for codes with FCC rear lid. Or other identification numbers. Then the issue of legality disappear. You can also get the serial number from a script:


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