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Vista Clean Install with offline OEM activation

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by Wh1t3w0lf, Apr 26, 2007.

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  1. Wh1t3w0lf

    Wh1t3w0lf Notebook Enthusiast

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    Disclaimer: I sincerely believe this guide to be on the legitimate side and I in no way support the use of this guide for purposes other than activating Vista on your Viste preinstalled Lenovo laptop!

    I recently bought a T60 and although I’ve been reading these wonderfull forums/community for 6 months now I never needed to post as it’s a habit of mine to not post in forums unless I really can’t solve something or I have a suggestion/solution to something. This time it’s the latter and this will be my first post!

    The first thing I did when I bought my T60 was to clean install Vista. I suppose everyone knows the benefits of this but what not many people know is that you can’t automatically activate Vista using the product key which is located in the sticker under your laptop. You must go through the telephone activation route which is sometimes really boring or even worse, unusable. I also didn’t want to use any of my spare MSDNAA licences because… I payed for this laptop’s Vista licence and I might as well make it work!

    So I started digging on how I can activate my T60 the same way Lenovo activates them during the factory restore. I’ve found out that Lenovo (and other OEMs) use a different product key, not the one you see in the sticker, which is hidden in the restore partition (or the discs you made yourself). This product key in combination with a license file that Microsoft has given to each OEM can activate windows without the need of online or telephone activation. Ofcourse for the product key/license file to work your BIOS must be compatible (aka support SLIC - Software Licensing Description Table) so that you can’t ilegally use this technique on every pc you own (doh!).

    Here are the steps for a successful offline activation:

    1. While you are using your factory preinstalled Vista find out your REAL OEM product key. You can use many utilities for this, like TweakVI but the easiest one is the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. Print or write your product key.

    2. Clean install Vista using either a retail DVD or with the Windows Anytime Upgrade DVD that might have been included in your Lenovo purchase. They are exactly the same media so no need to go the ware… *ahmm you know * way! When asked for your product key during installation enter the product you found in step 1 and NOT the product key which is written on the sticker under your laptop.

    3. Find the Lenovo OEM licence file. It is found in your recovery media. For example if you wrote 2 DVDs with the R&R4 program the licence file is located in the data DVD (big one) into an imz archive (actually an encrypted zip archive) named 0ADPE07.IMZ Inside that archive you must find SWWORK\C\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\OEM\lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms
    The problem with all the archives in the recovery DVD is that they are encrypted! I am currently brute forcing them but it will take days to find the correct password.
    So to save us some trouble we can find it on the net by searching Google for lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms. Download this file and place it somewhere (for easy install put it C:\)

    4. Now we can oem/offline activate Vista by issuing the following well documented and supported by Microsoft commands. These are:

    Code:
    slmgr –ilc path/to/licence/file/lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms
    (a message should pop after a while telling you that it installed correctly)

    Code:
    slmgr –ato
    (another message should pop which says that vista is now activated!)

    Now go to Control Panel -> System and see that you are actually activated!

    I hope this mini guide will help some of you do a clean Vista OEM installation without the need of the boring telephone activation. :cool:

    Edit: I you have an HP/Compac laptop use this guide by orev as it contains more small details on how to accomplish the clean install for these laptops.
     
  2. ElKid

    ElKid Notebook Evangelist

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    Very nice guide!
     
  3. null84

    null84 Notebook Evangelist

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    ohh nice guide... can i use the cd key for another computer instead?
    for example, i dont need vista on my x60. can i use that use that "lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms" folder on my Vaio instead?
     
  4. junknstuff

    junknstuff Notebook Consultant

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    more importantly, should i be able to do a similar method on my hp ?
     
  5. Wh1t3w0lf

    Wh1t3w0lf Notebook Enthusiast

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    The key retrieved from this method is only usable on your lenovo laptop because the licence certificate (the lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms file) was created to match certain data that your BIOS holds in it's SLIC table. I really don't think it's possible to use into another brand's laptop.

    On the other hand you could use your second key (the one found in the sticker) to activate over the phone another computer (e.g your Vaio) but this will probably violate the EULA as you can only have one installed copy of Windows with every retail or oem licence you purchase.

    I believe every oem uses the same technique to offline activate Vista so yes it's possible. However you must find the correct licence file to use after you have retrieved your hidden product key. Start by examing every file/archive on your HP recovery discs. The licence file should have an xrm-ms extension. If you find the file and it's encrypted in some kind of archive just search google for it's exact filename like I did with lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms.
     
  6. junknstuff

    junknstuff Notebook Consultant

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    awesome. i'll do that later this evening or in the morning. if i find it before someone else does, i'll be sure to contribute!
     
  7. GaryD9

    GaryD9 Notebook Enthusiast

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    This works for both Vista Business and for Vista Ultimate. Likely would work for other versions of Vista as well... My understanding is that the only difference is the product key - the license file is the same.

    -- google is your friend...
     
  8. orev

    orev Notebook Virtuoso

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    The xrm-ms file should also exist on your PC as it's currently installed (from the factory). Should be no need to brute force crack the password. Do a search of the c:\Windows folder and include hidden and system files. There will be a bunch of those type of files, and one of them should be the oemcert key.

    On my HP, it's in C:\windows\oemcert. Probably something similar for lenovo.
     
  9. orev

    orev Notebook Virtuoso

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    Wh1t3w0lf, this is a great guide. I have expanded it and posted a step-by-step for my HP laptop in this thread, so at least it seems to work for HP laptops too!
     
  10. Wh1t3w0lf

    Wh1t3w0lf Notebook Enthusiast

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    orev thanks, you also have a great guide there as it contains all the small details needed to do this, and that will make this procedure accessible to many more people!

    Unfortunately on Lenovo systems the oem certificate cannot be found in the factory preinstalled Vista, only in the recovery media/partition (although I admit I didn't search too much for it) and now I can't just reformat to search again for this :p
     
  11. null84

    null84 Notebook Evangelist

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    -_- i wanted to try this with the XP home edition but I cannot find places to download home edition and only XP professional
     
  12. mliu

    mliu Notebook Consultant

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    do I need the recover cds? or can i just have my vista cd key and install vista using the provided disc?
     
  13. orev

    orev Notebook Virtuoso

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    You will need the recovery discs to revert your system back to the factory defaults. You don't use them during the clean install process, but if something goes wrong and you need to restore the system, you will need them.

    All you need is 2 DVDs or like 9 CDs, which total should cost you maybe $2. Not making them before you do this is not a smart idea.
     
  14. Grentz

    Grentz Notebook Evangelist

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    Thanks for the guide, worked like a charm for my T61.
     
  15. codek

    codek Notebook Consultant

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    this is exactly what I needed.

    anyone figure out how to do a dual boot on thinkpads?
     
  16. labyrinthe

    labyrinthe Notebook Guru

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    These are almost identical - the only difference is that with pro you get additional group policy controls.
     
  17. syxbit

    syxbit Notebook Evangelist

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    i bought mine with home basic, as i have an ultimate copy
    i'm guessing this won't work, as it would only work for the same version?
     
  18. labyrinthe

    labyrinthe Notebook Guru

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    if you have a copy of ultimate, then presumably you also got an activation key with that copy? if so that would be the only key you need
     
  19. Grentz

    Grentz Notebook Evangelist

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    Not true...

    To install XP Home you NEED a XP Home disc to install Pro you NEED a Pro disk. XP is not like vista where they are all on the same disc.

    Also, XP Pro has Domains, Remote Desktop Server, More Advanced Group Policies, Automated System Recovery, Dynamic Disk Support, IIS Web Server, Multi language support, and Encrypting File System. There are a few others as well that I cannot remember off hand.
     
  20. Wrath

    Wrath Notebook Consultant

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    What are the benefits of a clean install? sorry, I'm new to this as I am currently thinking about getting a t61p for college soon.
     
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