After replacing the hard drive of my five year old laptop, I started getting a message that my Windows 7 Ultimate isn't Genuine Windows. I did some research and read that Microsoft allows large companies like Dell to use generic product keys so it's easy for them to mass produce PCs. I learned further that the generic product keys don't work when used to reinstall Windows.
My repair person who replaced my drive must have used the generic Windows product key, since my laptop doesn't have a sticker with another product key and I don't have any documentation with another non-generic key.
I used a product key finder, Belarc, to find the key on my computer, but of course it's finding the one that is generic and is now being rejected by Microsoft.
How can I get a non-generic product key from Dell?
Each Windows disk had its own unique product key for installing and you can install Windows at least 5-7 times before this error appears. You may want to ask the person who installed Windows about the Disk he used. If Windows updates where installed after Windows was installed and the error did not appear before the updates you can try the steps below.
Go to Windows updates in your computer and click on the latest update that was installed and uninstall it to see if that will resolve the issue.
If you do not have your own Windows disk you can try getting a Windows Disk for your system at the link below and then reinstall with the disk you get.
Thanks very much for your reply and suggestions. I'll try uninstalling the most recent Windows updates, since I DID in fact get quite a few post-new hard drive Windows updates prior to the genuine Windows error appearing.
Re your other suggestion re getting a new Windows disk for my system, I'm no longer under warranty, so that automated link you provided for replacement media didn't work for me. Is it still possible for me to get a replacement Windows disk for a reasonable fee? If so, how can I do that?
Also, once I have a replacement Windows disk, would it be possible to reactivate Windows using its 25 digit product key, without actually reinstalling Windows? (My five year old laptop is working just fine, with the exception of this annoying Genuine Windows error.)
Thanks again for your assistance! I appreciate it!
Theres a recent Windows Update which is causing this issue. You can try and redeploy your Dell OEM product activation using the ABR program, following the instructions here:
Yes, when the system hard drive is replaced then it prompts for reactivation. It is normal because the operating system must be legally bundled with a hard drive purchase for OEM installs. I had this problem too. It means a person does have to buy a new operating system unless the person can generate the same device signature as the original installation. I do believe the operating system can be reinstalled and activated using the original hard drive set up.
Windows generates a unique signature for windows operating system activation using device serial numbers and other things. This system is called Windows Product Activation (WPA). It was warned that if the hardware changes too much then a person may need to buy a new license because it is just not the same computer anymore.
~Windows XP Desktop Support
My laptop is a Dell E4300 with dual boot Linux/Windows.
-Windows XP Desktop Support-General Studies A.S.
-Just a loser with a 2 year degree.
-"If you feed me then watch me get a project done."
Thanks so much to all of you for the interesting info and your advice. Interestingly (and happily) enough, my problem went away as suddenly as it started -- it was started by one Microsoft update and fixed by another. Apparently I was one of the many people who suffered from a buggy Microsoft update, according to this article:
"Known as KB3004394, thefirst buggy update related to Microsoft's Windows Root Certificate Program, which automatically distributes trusted root certificates in Windows. The update created trouble specifically with computers running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 by clobbering their ability to install future updates.
"In response, Microsoft has issued a new update that removes the KB3004394 update from affected systems."
Thanks again to all of you who were kind enough to respond with your suggestions, etc.