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Windows 7, Vista, XP Product Activation

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq desktop computers that came with Windows 7, Vista, or XP operating systems.
To help prevent software piracy, Microsoft requires that Windows is activated before it can be used as full-version software. There are two methods for activating Windows: Windows Product Activation and System Locked Pre-installation .
Windows Product Activation (WPA) sends an installation ID number to Microsoft before Windows is verified and then activated. WPA involves two numbers. One is an Installation ID (generated by entering a Windows product key) that the computer owner submits to Microsoft. The second is a Confirmation ID, assigned by Microsoft, and is used to activate the operating system’s software. This method is used when upgrading or installing a new Windows edition from disc (not HP System Recovery).
System Locked Pre-installation (SLP) takes place at the factory. No intervention is required to activate the operating system software before initial use. With SLP-activated systems, most of the computer's hardware can be replaced without needing to re-activate the software through Microsoft.
Most HP computers use System Locked Pre-installation to make it easier to set up the computer. However, if you decide to install a different Windows Edition on your computer, you will need to activate the new version of Windows. There may also be situations when Windows prompts you for product activation even though the product has already been activated.

Your Windows version

To learn more about how to activate Windows, choose one of the following sections that applies to your version of Windows.
The following windows are examples of messages that can open when Windows 7 is not activated.
Figure 1: Windows Activation message
Windows Activation message
Figure 2: You may be a victim of software counterfeiting
Anti-piracy warning: You may be a victim of software counterfeiting
These warnings open periodically until Windows is activated. If you activate Windows 7, the messages stop.
If you have upgraded your computer to Windows 7 and have not yet entered a valid activation key, these messages are normal. You must enter a valid product key to continue using an upgraded version of Windows.
If you are getting these messages and your computer came with Windows 7 pre-installed, then Windows 7 may need to be activated again, or the system needs to be recovered using HP System Recovery, which restores the operating system to its original factory condition.
To view activation status and activate Windows, do the following:
  1. Connect to the Internet. If you cannot connect to the Internet at this time, you can activate by phone later or repeat these steps when an Internet connection is available.
  2. Click Start , right-click Computer , and select Properties .
  3. Scroll down on the System Properties window to view the Windows activation status information.
    Figure 3: Needs to be activated now
    Needs to be activated now
    Figure 4: Not yet activated but should be done soon
    Not yet activated but should be done soon
    Figure 5: Activated
    Activated
    To activate Windows 7, continue following these steps:
  4. Click Change product key .
    If you want to activate over the phone, click Activate Windows now , click See other ways to activate , and follow the on-screen instructions.
  5. Type the product key into the Product Key field, click Next , and then follow the on-screen instructions to complete activation.
    Figure 6: Type your product key
     Type your product key
    The product key is located on the Certificate of Authenticity label on the computer case or Windows 7 upgrade disc packaging. If you have upgraded to Windows 7, apply the Certificate of Authenticity label from the upgrade disc packaging to the computer for easy access in the future.
    Figure 7: Product Key location on a Windows 7 Upgrade Certificate of Authenticity label
     Product Key location on a Windows 7 Upgrade Certificate of Authenticity label
  6. If product activation was successful, a success screen is shown and Windows 7 setup continues. You are done.
    Figure 8: Windows Activation was successful
    Windows Activation was successful
For more detailed information about Windows 7 activation, refer to the Microsoft TechNet article Windows Activation Technologies in Windows 7 (in English).
If your computer came with Windows 7 installed, you can use System Recovery instead of activating Windows online or over the telephone. This restores Windows 7 to its original factory condition, which is pre-activated by default.
NOTE:If you have added any hardware or software, you must reinstall it after running System Recovery.
To perform an HP System Recovery, turn on the computer and immediately press the F11 key repeatedly.
For more information about System Recovery, please see the HP support document, Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows 7) .
After performing a System Recovery, or re-installing Windows 7, it should not be necessary to repeat the activation process. There are several different recovery situations to consider.
  • If the computer shipped with Windows 7 and the Recovery Manager is functional, then use the Recovery Manager to restore the computer to its default factory conditions. Windows 7 is automatically activated.
  • If the computer shipped with Windows 7 but the Recovery Manager is not functional, use the Recovery disc to restore the computer to its default factory conditions. Windows 7 is automatically activated.
  • If the computer shipped with an earlier version of Windows but included an upgrade disc for Windows 7 provided by HP, you should recover the computer back to its default factory conditions and then upgrade again to Windows 7. Windows 7 is automatically activated.
  • If the computer shipped with an earlier version of Windows and you upgraded or custom-installed a full retail version of Windows 7, you should use the Microsoft DVD to re-install Windows 7. Windows 7 is automatically activated.
  • If the computer shipped with Windows 7 and the Recovery Manager is not functional, but you have not created the recovery discs, you can order a Windows 7 Recovery DVD. It may be necessary to contact Microsoft to activate Windows 7.
You might be prompted to activate Windows Vista.
Figure 9: Windows Activation message
Windows Activation message
Normally, activation in Windows Vista is done automatically on HP and Compaq Desktop computers, but some conditions (turning off the computer during Windows setup, for example) can cause a Windows Activation message to be displayed. When this happens, Windows Vista requires activation or a System Recovery.
If you can still use the Windows Vista desktop, click Start , right-click Computer , and select Properties to view the status of Windows Activation. Scroll down on the System Properties window to view the status information.
Figure 10: Not activated
Not activated
Figure 11: Activated
Activated
If you can still open Windows Vista, you might be able to download a software update that can resolve this issue. Use Windows Update and HP Update to install all critical updates from Microsoft and HP and then restart the computer. If computer Windows Activation screens still continue or you were not able to update your computer, the rest of this information can help you activate or recover your computer.
There are three ways to activate Windows Vista: by broadband connection, by dial-up modem or by Automated Phone System (voice). The first two methods require an Internet connection and the last method requires a voice telephone to dial a toll-free number. The Automated Phone System might take several minutes due to the number of digits that need to be entered. Use the following steps to activate a computer when the Windows Product Activation message opens.
To activate your computer:
  1. Before starting, if you have a broadband Internet connection, make sure the network cable is connected to the computer. If you have a dial-up modem Internet connection, make sure a phone line is connected to the modem connection on the computer.
  2. From the Windows Activation window, click Type a different product key .
    Figure 12: Windows Activation: Type a different product key
    Windows Activation: Type a different product key
  3. Enter the product key number into the product key field and then click Next . This number can be found on a Certificate of Authenticity label adhered to the side of the computer's case.
    Figure 13: Product Key on Windows Vista Certificate of Authenticity label
    Product Key on Windows Vista Certificate of Authenticity label
    Figure 14: Windows Activation: Change your product key for activation
    Windows Activation: Change your product key for activation
  4. If product activation was successful, a success screen is shown and Windows Vista setup continues. You are done.
    If online product activation failed, an "Activate Windows Now" window opens.
  5. Click Show me other ways to activate , and then click Next .
    A "How do you want to activate Windows?" window opens.
    Figure 15: Windows Activation: How do you want to activate?
    Windows Activation: How do you want to activate?
  6. If a modem is not connected , skip this step.
    If a modem is connected , use the following sub-steps to activate over the modem:
    Make sure the phone line is not in use, click Use my modem to connect directly to the activation service , and then click Next .
    Select the most appropriate country/region from the drop-down list labeled Click the nearest location , and then click Next .
    NOTE: Do NOT click Activate Windows Online now .
    "Connecting to the activation service" is displayed, and the modem dials a number to activate automatically.
    If product activation was successful, a success screen is shown and Windows Vista setup continues. You are done.
    If product activation is not successful, you are returned to a previous screen. Repeat these steps using the automated phone system or perform a system recovery.
  7. To use the automated phone system, click Use the automated phone system from the How do you want to Activate? window, and then click Next .
  8. To find available phone numbers for activation, select a location near you from the drop-down menu, and then click Next .
  9. If a phone is not near the computer, get paper and a pencil to write down the installation IDs and confirmation IDs.
  10. Use a phone to dial the number provided in the Activate Windows Now window.
    Figure 16: Windows Activation: Activate Windows now
    Windows Activation: Activate Windows now
  11. Follow the instructions from the phone system to enter the installation ID numbers and write down the confirmation ID numbers.
  12. Enter the confirmation ID numbers into the fields A through H, in the same sequence as the phone system provided them. When done, click Next .
If product activation was successful, a success screen is shown and Windows Vista setup continues. You are done.
Figure 17: Windows Activation: Activation was successful
Windows Activation: Activation was successful
If product activation fails, perform a System Recovery. For more information about System Recovery, please refer to the HP support document, Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows Vista) .
For more information about Windows Vista activation, please refer to the Microsoft support article You might be prompted to activate Windows Vista on a computer on which Windows Vista was already activated by a Volume License or OEM installation (in English).
If you need to activate an HP or Compaq computer that came with Windows XP, do the following:
  1. When you try to activate your computer online, using the product key, you are prompted to call the Microsoft Activation call center. The appropriate regional phone number displays.
  2. A Microsoft representative asks you for the Installation Identification Number (a number generated based on the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) key entered during setup or installation of XP) and the PC brand.
  3. If the Installation Identification Number matches one assigned to an HP product, the Microsoft representative should provide a Confirmation Identification Number that allows you to complete the activation process.
If product activation was successful, a success screen is shown and Windows XP setup continues. You are done.
If product activation fails, perform a System Recovery. For more information about System Recovery, please refer to the HP support document, Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows XP) .

Helpful information

The following is a list of reasons why product activation might be necessary, and an explanation of terms used during the activation process.
The following conditions might cause an SLP-activated computer to require activation through Microsoft:
  • Upgrading Windows.
  • Completing an HP System Recovery after recovering from HP Recovery Discs.
  • Installing certain device drivers and software.
  • Uninstalling certain operating system software or files.
  • Updating the BIOS or installing a new BIOS flash from a company other than HP.
  • Replacing the motherboard with one that does not contain the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) version of the BIOS.
  • Windows Product Activation (WPA) - Requires a person to unlock the computer before Windows can be used.
  • System Locked Pre-installation (SLP) - No personal intervention is normally required to activate Windows.
  • End-User License Agreement (EULA) - The agreement that the user of Windows must accept in order to use the Windows product.
  • Certificate of Authenticity (COA) - A proof of ownership identification method to help prove that a product is not counterfeit or copied. It could be in the form of a label that contains a bar code and product identification number.
  • Installation Identification Number - Generated based on the Certificate of Authenticity key entered during Windows setup.
  • Confirmation Identification Number - Number that allows you to complete the activation process.
NOTE:One or more of the links above will take you outside the Hewlett-Packard Web site. HP does not control and is not responsible for information outside the HP Web site.

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