Old Windows Version Not Activated After You Downgrade from Windows 10

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Windows 10 was offered as a free upgrade. It made it very tempting to upgrade your existing version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 before the offer ends. But maybe Windows 10 is not working great on your PC, or you do not like Windows 10, or the applications that you use are not working well (or at all) and you decide to downgrade or rollback to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. After doing so though, it might result in your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license reporting that it is not activated or not genuine. In this article, we take a look at ways you can resolve this issue.

For computers on which Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 came pre-installed.

If you have reinstalled the correct version/edition of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on your computer, then according to the OEM Marker or the OEM Recovery Discs, you should not be prompted to reactivate. Factory installed versions of Windows are already pre-activated, but if you are getting activation error, here is what you can do.

Scenario 1: Windows 7 activation error 0x8007000D

If you are getting activation error 0x8007000D on your Windows 7 PC, upon rollback from Windows 10 run the Fix-It provided by Microsoft for the same error and check if it helps.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2230957/

 

Scenario 2: Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 is asking for Product Key for installation or activation

Upon downgrading from Windows 10, you might be asked for a product key to install or activate Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Usually a Product Key is located on the sticker (OEM Certificate of Authenticity) attached to your machine. This product key sticker can normally be found at the bottom of a laptop, in the memory or battery compartments. On a desktop computer, it is at the top or side of the machine tower or the inside of the removable panel of the system unit.

Below are example images of how this sticker could look like on your machine:

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To check the activation status or to enter a key:

  • Click Start
  • Right click Computer
  • Click Properties

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Here you will see the duration after which you have to activate Windows in order to use all the features (’23 days to activate’…). If you see the letters OEM inside the product ID then that means that your Windows is already activated. Congratulations! If it isn’t, keep reading.

Click on Change product key.

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Type the product key located on the sticker located at the bottom of your laptop or you can also find it at the top or side of a Desktop computer’s tower. The picture below is, again, an example of how it might look like.

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Note: In some laptops you will find this sticker inside the battery compartment.

Enter the product key and click Next.

You will get to a similar screen as you see in the picture below.

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Wait for Windows to attempt to activate. (Should not take more than 5 minutes)

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If Windows is successfully activated, you will see the message shown in the screenshot above.

You may confirm Windows 7 activation status by going to the system properties window again. Check the Windows Activation section:

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You will notice Windows 7 now displays OEM within the Product ID to indicate the product channel it is licensed from.

 

What if you have a boxed version of Windows 7?

If so, try the phone activation option using the retail product key found in the Windows 7 product box. See instructions below.

 

How to activate Windows 7 over phone (Phone Activation)

  1. Press Windows Key + R on the keyboard and type slui.exe 4 in the run prompt.
  2. Next press the ENTER key.
  3. Select your Country from the list.
  4. Choose the Phone Activation option. And call the number that you see on the screen.
  5. Be ready with the activation keys, as soon as you hear a IVR voice asking for the number, start typing the number block by block as you are suggested to do by the IVR.
  6. When asked, “How many systems is the key working on?” reply with the existing number of systems running the same key.

Note: A regular retail key can only activate Windows on one device. Make sure you only have installed and used the key on 1 system. Hence the answer to the IVR must be 1.

 

 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/950929/en-us

 

What if the product key is not available or it is damaged?

Try retrieving the product key using third-party programs that are available for free download and will help you in extract the key that’s installed on your PC.

Note: There is no official Microsoft Software which will help you in retrieving a key.

One such program is ShowKeyPlus: http://www.tenforums.com/software-apps/2577-showkey.html

 

Proceed to enter the key by following the steps below:

  • Click Start
  • Right click Computer
  • Click Properties
  • Scroll down to Windows Activation
  • Click the link ‘Change product key’

 

What if the Change product key command is not available?

 

You may enter the key using Command Prompt. To do so, follow the steps below:

  • Click Start
  • Type CMD and right click on Command Prompt.
  • Click Run as administrator

 

At the command prompt, type the following commands:

slmgr.vbs -ipk xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx

xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx – represents your product key

(This command replaces the current product key with the one you specify)

Then:

  • Hit Enter on your keyboard
  • Exit the command prompt
  • Restart your computer

 

What if the product key does not work or you were not able to find the genuine product key?

In this scenario, refer to the following options.

Option 1:

If the COA sticker is damaged, in that case you need to use the recovery partition to reinstall Windows 7. It will take your PC to the factory state, wiping all your data and software installed by you. This will exempt the need to use the product key to activate your Windows 7 installation.

Make sure you backup all your data before trying this.

 

Option 2:

If your recovery partition is not available or damaged. In that case contact the PC manufacturer and request for a recovery disc set that you can use to reinstall Windows 7. There might be a small charge for shipping and handling. This will also exempt the need to use the product key.

 

Option 3:

Run the Microsoft Genuine Diagnostics Tool to determine your activation status and product channel.

Sometimes the Windows Activation Services in Windows 7 may be corrupt. To determine if it is, run the Genuine Diagnostics Tool:

Step 1: Download MGADiag here

Step 2: Once downloaded, run the tool.

It will look something like this:

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Step 3: Click on the Continue button, which will produce the report.

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Step 4: To copy the report to view your results, click on the Copy button in the tool (ignore any error messages), then paste (using either right click > Paste or Ctrl+V ) into a text editor such as Notepad or Word-Pad or Microsoft Word.

This will help you or a technician to search for the error and find the right solution.

If you see the following in the report regarding File Mismatch, follow the links below to download the appropriate fix for your architecture (32-bit or 64-bit) of Windows 7:

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The following files are available for download from the Microsoft Download Center:
Update for Windows 7 for x86-based systems (KB971033) – 32bit systems
Download the Update for Windows 7 for x86-based systems package now.

Update for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB971033) – 64 bit systems
Download the Update for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB971033) package now.

Install the update to see if it corrects the problem.

 

Option 4:

If none of these options work, you might have to buy a new license key and activate Windows. Make sure you keep the key as it can be used to reinstall Windows on your PC if ever required.

 

Scenario 3: If you are running Windows 8.1

After Windows 7, Microsoft changed the way of providing key to OEM machines from stickers that have the product key which the user had to type in when installing the operating system to new BIOS embedded product keys.

This was done to stop piracy.The idea is that by eliminating the sticker, you prevent malicious users from just using someone else’s key and make the original owner suffer at the time of reinstallation. Eliminating the product key sticker also removes the worry of sticker getting damaged. At the same time, it eliminates the long process of typing in various letters and numbers when installing the operating system.

If Windows user has to reinstall the operating system on a machine that came with Windows 8 or later, the installation process automatically identifies the software product key from the BIOS chip with no input required from the user. This means that the Windows product key stickers will no longer be required on computers.

If Windows 8.1 setup did not retrieve your key and you had to use a generic key, here is how to retrieve the product key from the BIOS.

Windows Embedded Product Key tool by Neosmart

 

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Designed for users of Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10, our embedded product key tool will retrieve and display the Windows setup product key embedded in the BIOS or EFI, allowing you to store it for safe-keeping or use it to reinstall Windows with an official Windows setup image.

https://neosmart.net/blog/2014/windows-10-embedded-product-key-tool/#more-3188

Once you have retrieved the key, follow the steps below for activation:

  • Press Windows key + R on the keyboard
  • Type exe 3
  • Hit Enter
  • Enter the product key and click Next to activate over the Internet.

 

You may also use phone activation option:

  1. Press Windows Key + R on the keyboard and type slui.exe 4 in the run prompt.
  2. Next press the ENTER key.
  3. Select your Country from the list.
  4. Choose the Phone Activation option. And call the number that you see on the screen.
  5. Be ready with the activation keys, as soon as you hear a IVR voice asking for the number, start typing the number block by block as you are suggested to do by the IVR.
  6. When asked, “How many systems is the key working on?” reply with the existing number of systems running the same key.

Note: For a regular retail key, the number of activation limit is 1 device. Make sure you only have installed and used the key on 1 system. Hence the answer to the IVR must be 1.

 

What if the product key is damaged and OEM refuses or cannot help with providing recovery media?

Unfortunately, the best option in this case would be to return to Windows 10 then try working through the issues. If you had an activated Windows 10 installation prior to rolling back, then you would be able to reinstall Windows 10 multiple times without having to worry about activation. It will reactivate automatically using Digital Entitlement. And if you are facing compatibility issues, you may count on Microsoft for releasing updates which could fix some of those issues in future.

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One thought on “Old Windows Version Not Activated After You Downgrade from Windows 10

  • I’ve installed windows 7 on my laptop after buying license from ODosta Store, I want to activate it to get free upgrade from windows 7 professional to windows 10 home.
    I’m now confused, How to activate and upgrade to windows 10.
    Please mention within details.

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