Windows (ALL) OEM activation


Looking for solid confirmation on how Windows(XP,Vista,7,8) OEM can be reinstalled/activated

Windows XP (Home/Professional) OEM(SLP) (Dell, HP etc.)


  • GRTMHOEM_EN.iso (Generic Home OEM)
  • en_windows_xp_home_with_service_pack_3_x86_cd_x14-92413.iso
  • GRTMPOEM_EN.iso (Generic Professional OEM)
  • en_windows_xp_professional_with_service_pack_3_x86_cd_x14-80428.iso

Install using any media that matches version, use Windows Key Update Tool to activate it as Retail or OEM based on key provided. (True/False)?

Old Method
Create vendor specific OEM installer

  1. Backup OEM files from target PC

    • C:\Windows\system32\OEMBIOS.BIN
    • C:\Windows\system32\OEMBIOS.DAT
    • C:\Windows\system32\OEMBIOS.SIG
    • C:\Windows\system32\Catroot{F750E6C3-38EE-11D1-85E5-00C04FC295EE}\OEMBIOS.CAT
  2. Create .CAB files of target PC files

  3. Replace generic OEM ISOs \i386 files with newly created .CAB files

  4. Install using COA key


  1. Backup Activation Files before reinstall

    • C:\Windows\system32\wpa.dbl
    • C:\Windows\system32\Wpa.bak
  2. Rename Existing & Replace with backup files after reinstall

    • C:\Windows\system32\wpa.dbl
    • C:\Windows\system32\Wpa.bak

Windows Vista/7 (ALL) Retail/OEM (Dell, HP etc.)


  • en_windows_vista_sp2_x64_dvd_342267.iso
  • en_windows_vista_with_sp2_x86_dvd_342266.iso
  • en_windows_7_ultimate_with_sp1_x64_dvd_u_677332.iso (ei.cfg removed)
  • en_windows_7_ultimate_with_sp1_x86_dvd_u_677460.iso (ei.cfg removed)

  1. Backup activation using ABR (Activation Backup and Restore)
  2. Reinstall version on COA sticker
  3. Do not enter key during installation
  4. Restore backed up activation files using ABR
  5. If files not backed up, use online or phone activation

Windows 8 (ALL) Retail/OEM (Dell, HP etc.)


  • en_windows_8_x64_dvd_915440.iso
  • en_windows_8_x86_dvd_915417.iso

Just reinstall, activation is taken care of via BIOS(No COA) or use purchased key if you upgraded.

Can anyone confirm/deny the validity of these methods or make suggestions on how to better accomplish activation after a reinstall? I am mainly concerned with XP since the information I have found is rather scattered and I am not sure if its possible to activate a "royalty free OEM" using a generic OEM/retail disk install and Windows Key Update Tool or if I would need to use one of the old methods of backing up the files and altering the install disk.

If there are any known issues with activation on any version using the windows images/techniques I listed can someone please elaborate on them. I am asking because I started a new job that requires re-installing every version of windows on various computers that have OEM and retail versions.

The information I gathered on various forums is rather scattered and contradicting, this is why I am posting this seemingly stupid question that you may think has been answered a million times. I want someone to give me a definitive response so I don't screw someones computer up by remove necessary OEM files.

Best Answer


To install on "royalty free OEM" machines (HP, DELL, etc.) you can get the vendor's oembios files from the oembios repository, or backed up from the current installation.

You then need to use the SLP (system locked preinstallation) key that corresponds to the installation media's product ID. These used to be archived on the My Digital Life forums, but were taken down due to DMCA request. I'm not sure if the particular vendor key is required, or if those provided by Microsoft will work. If you still have the original installation from the OEM, you can extract the SLP key they used for installation from the registry using a tool like produkey.

(Most antivirus seems to complain about produkey, but I've never had issues with it.)

nLite can help you create the ISO and be very useful for testing in a VM, but it's quite a bit more difficult to test the SLP activation with the VM.

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