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Friday, March 12

The Official Windows 7 Guide

What is this guide for?

This step-by-step tutorial will help you getting Microsoft Windows 7 for free and safely. You'll learn how to install Windows 7 and how to activate it using the safest and most reliable method currently available.


The philosophy behind the guide

The philosophy behind this guide is to promote universal access to knowledge for every human being. Although it is mainly about proprietary Windows, free software is being slightly introduced in this guide (BitTorrent client, hash calculator, open source loader etc.).



Part 1 of 4: Download Windows 7

The fastest way to download Windows 7 is using BitTorrent, which is a P2P protocol that allows file sharing. Not only BitTorrent provides high speed of download for popular files, but it also gives you the opportunity to help other people by making their download faster.

To download files using BitTorrent you need an application that supports BitTorrent protocol. You might use
Tribler (Windows, Macintosh OS and Linux) or Transmission (Macintosh OS and Linux only), they are both free and open source software. Feel free to use any other BitTorrent client.

Once you have a BitTorrent client, download the tiny ".torrent" file bellow that belong to the version that you want (32 bits or 64 bits). This file will be directly opened with your BitTorrent client and the download will start instantly.

Torrent Links:

Those 2 ISOs above allow you to have Windows in any language that you want (35 languages available).
› Take a look at section 5-F to select your language.

These ISOs also allow you to install any edition that you want (Ultimate, Professional, Home Premium, Home Basic, Starter).
› Take a look at section 5-G to quickly unlock other editions.

Note: By default it will install the Ultimate edition.
Note: Multi-language is available only if you install the Ultimate edition.




Part 2 of 4: Check the authenticity

It is absolutely crucial that you check the authenticity of the ISO you just downloaded. You must check that it hasn't been modified by anyone, that it's clean from spy wares and viruses, and that it is free from corruption or any transfer error.

To confirm the authenticity of the ISO you downloaded, all you have to do is to make sure that it is exactly (bit for bit) the same as the one Microsoft provides. We can know that two files are identical by matching their hashes. The hash of a file is the result of its calculation. Each file has a unique hash, if the file is modified (even only by 1 bit) then its hash will be completely different.

Microsoft provides through his website (http://blogs.technet.com/[...] and http://technet.microsoft.com/[...]) the official hashes for all the Windows 7 ISOs. Please check the hash of the ISO that you have downloaded using HashCheck (direct downloadinstructions) or any other hash calculator, and verify that it is the same as the ones provided by Microsoft:
  • Microsoft Windows 7 32 Bits
    • MD5: D0B8B407E8A3D4B75EE9C10147266B89
    • SHA-1: 5395DC4B38F7BDB1E005FF414DEEDFDB16DBF610
  • Microsoft Windows 7 64 Bits
    • MD5: F43D22E4FB07BF617D573ACD8785C028
    • SHA-1: 326327CC2FF9F05379F5058C41BE6BC5E004BAA7



Part 3 of 4: Install Windows 7

You have 2 options to install Windows 7. You can simply burn the ISO to a DVD (Scroogle: How to burn an ISO to a DVD), or you can install Windows 7 from a USB flash drive instead of a DVD.

Insert the Windows 7 installation disk into your drive and restart your computer. Press any key when asked to launch the installation (Scroogle: How to boot from a DVD). You might need to change the boot priority in your BIOS in order to boot from your DVD drive or from your USB flash drive (Scroogle: Change boot priority order).

During the installation, you do not need to enter any product key, just bypass the step when it asks for one. You might also uncheck the box "activate online".



Part 4 of 4: Activate Windows 7

The safest method to activate Windows 7 is using a software called a "loader". It is safe because whatever happen this is only software so even if it doesn't work you will be able to uninstall it and continue to use your computer.

It is also the most reliable software method available today. This method has been working for Windows Vista for more than 3 years (and counting) and has proven its reliability and efficiency. This is a mature technology to activate Windows, it works with Windows 7 32 and 64 bits on any computer (homemade or branded) and even on Macintosh. Nothing special is required before using a loader.

You're invited to download and install the Windows 7 Loader created by Daz, which is currently the most popular loader. However if you want to try another one, there are other loaders (including open-source ones), just take a look at section 6-K.

Note: In very specific cases, it might happen that the default mode won't work if you have an unusual configuration, and in very rare cases, might even prevent Windows from starting.

Don't worry! Just press Escape or the "R" key during start up until you see the loader's menu, then select "Windows without loader" and press ENTER. Once on Windows, just re-install the loader using another mode.
Once done, you might want to check the activation status: In the Start menu, make a right-click on Computer then select Properties. Scroll down and check the activation status at the bottom. If you want to display more details about the activation status take a look at section 6-E.


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5. Frequently Asked Questions


A. Which is the final version of Windows 7? I want the latest version!
During its development, Windows 7 was available to the public as a Beta, and later as a RC (Release Candidate). The development of Windows 7 ended on July 13, 2009. Since this date, the final Windows 7 was available through many distribution channels: First through Piracy since July 13, then through MSDN/Technet since August 06, and finally through Retail distribution since October 22.

There is only one final version of Windows 7, it was compiled on July 13, and was never modified since this date. The ISOs that first leaked on July 13 through Piracy are the same that was available later through MSDN, and are also the same as the ones available through resellers since October 22.

This final version is called RTM (Release to Manufacturing). Microsoft's policy is to not touch this version until a Service Pack is released, which usually comes one year after the RTM was released.

B. Did or will Microsoft blacklist the keys we use for activation?
No. Microsoft technically cannot block OEM SLP keys, first because it's an offline activation, and second because those keys are used by tens of thousands of legitimate users.

OEM SLP keys are used by OEM manufacturers to mass-activate any computer they sell with Windows pre-installed. Technically for the activation to work using an OEM SLP key, Windows checks if the computer is OEM manufactured. This is done by checking if there is appropriate SLIC table in memory when Windows starts, and that the certificate (a simple file) installed on Windows is matching the SLIC. Putting this SLIC table in memory before Windows starts is what loaders are all about.

C. Can I turn ON automatic Windows Updates?
Yes. The method to activate Windows described in this guide (i.e. using a software called a "loader") imply that your Windows is acting exactly as it would act if it would be a legal copy. You can safely use Windows Update, download software from Microsoft.com and run any genuine check confidently.

D. Which edition of Windows 7 can I activate?
All of them, except the N editions, for which we don't have OEM SLP keys.

E. Can I upgrade from Windows 7 Beta or RC to the final Windows 7 RTM?
No. You can however bypass this restriction by editing the build number (put 6000) in the file "sources/cversion.ini" which is in the ISO of Windows 7, before burning it. — This is strongly not recommended, make a fresh install instead.

F. How to switch my Windows to another language?
Windows 7 Ultimate includes a simple option to choose the display language. It will change the language of your Windows as easy as a click, without even the need to restart your computer! All 35 languages are available.
  1. Once you have downloaded and installed Windows 7 Ultimate, go to Windows Update (type "wup" in Start menu).
  2. Check for updates and show the optional updates.
  3. Download and install any language that you would like.
  4. Once the language pack you want is installed, type "change display language" in Start menu and press ENTER.
  5. Select your language and click OK!
This was only for your User Account. If you also want to apply your language to the Welcome Screen, and make it the default language for other accounts, continue with the steps below:
  1. Type "change display language" in Start menu and press ENTER.
  2. Select the "Administrative" tab, and click the "Copy settings..." button.
  3. Select and tick the 2 checkboxes and click OK!

G. How to unlock the other editions of Windows?
All the editions of Windows are included in the ISO image available to download in this guide. To be able to select the edition you want during the installation, you just need to delete the file "ei.cfg" that is in the "sources" folder. Use this Removal Utility (direct download) to remove the file from the ISO you downloaded, it takes only 2 seconds!

Note that if you install another edition than Ultimate, you won't be able to enjoy multi-language and to change the display language of Windows with one of the 35 languages available. Only the Ultimate edition has this feature.

If you wonder which edition of Windows to install, be aware that according to Microsoft, all the editions of Windows have the same level of performance (system requirements are the same for all editions). Differences between editions are mainly about functionalities (compare editions of Windows). The Ultimate edition is the edition that includes functionalities from all the other editions, this is the most complete and the most flexible.

H. Should I install the 32 bits or the 64 bits version?
If you have 3 GB of RAM or more, install the 64 bits version. If you have 2 GB of RAM or less, install the 32 bits version. If you have between 2 GB and 3 GB of RAM, both versions are OK, and it's up to you to decide. — Before making any decision, make sure that your processor supports 64 bits instructions. Find your processor on Intel's website or AMD's website and check if it supports either "EM64T" or "AMD64".

J. Where can I find all the official HASHES on Microsoft's website?
Take a look at the TechNet section of Microsoft.com. Select "Operating Systems" on the left panel, then click "Windows 7". The HASHES are on the right side.

K. What is the difference between Retail and OEM version of Windows 7?
There is none. The builds are exactly the same. Only the "Channel" heading in the file "sources/ei.cfg" specifies either "Retail" or "OEM". But this is not definitive since if you use an OEM product key it will switch to OEM, and if you use a Retail product key it will switch to Retail. So at the end it doesn't matter which one you install.


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6. Advanced stuff

A. How activators work?
Activators, also known as loaders, add a script on the boot partition (Linux Grub boot loader (GRLDR)) which will put OEM information (SLIC 2.1) into memory before Windows starts. This way Windows thinks that the SLIC 2.1 come from the BIOS (which is false). Activators also install a certificate and an OEM SLP key to activate Windows.

B. What about the other method: modifying the BIOS?
To get activated with an OEM certificate and an appropriate OEM SLP key, Windows 7 checks if the computer is OEM branded. To do so, it checks if there is OEM information (SLIC 2.1) coming from the BIOS. Modifying the BIOS imply that we add OEM information (SLIC 2.1) to the BIOS for real.

C. Dual-boot: Windows Vista and Windows 7
If after activating Windows 7, your Windows Vista got deactivated then you might reactivate it in a second:
Reactivate Windows Vista
  1. First thing first: get your Windows 7 activated.
  2. Go back to Vista, if it is deactivated, then continue the steps below.

    • Windows 7 activated with Daz's activator:
      • Apply Daz's activator on Vista.
    • Windows 7 activated with Hazar's activator:
      • Apply Hazar's activator on Vista.
    • Windows 7 activated with nononsence's activator:
      • Launch OpaTool on Vista, type "B" and press ENTER, then type "DELL" and press ENTER again.
    • Windows 7 activated with a modded BIOS:
      • Launch OpaTool on Vista, type "B" and press ENTER, then type the brand name of your SLIC and press ENTER again.
Note that you can also do this process manually if you wish, to do so follow the tiny tutorial in section 6-F-a.
D. Extend the initial 30 days trial period up to 120 days
You can renew the initial 30 days period 3 times for a total of 120 days. Here's a tutorial to renew the activation grace period to 120 days.

How to Rearm and Extend Free Usage (Activation Grace Period) of Windows 7 to 120 Days

Windows 7 (SeVeN) is probably going to continue the trial software trend that starts with Windows Vista’s rearm, that user can install Windows 7 without any product key for free usage of 30 days as evaluation period. During the 30-day activation free grace period, user does not need to activate Windows 7, and can use Windows 7 of any edition in full functionality.

Although Windows 7 product activation function will keep reminding user how many days left to input a product key and activate the system in order to continue using the operating system beyond 30 days. In reality, Windows 7 also equip with a secret ‘rearm’ key in order to reset the free 30-day evaluation period limitation, which allows user to extend the activation-free usage or evaluation expiry date of Windows 7 for another 30 days legally.
Best of all, Microsoft provides 3 times of available ‘rearm’ count, as part of tool for system administrator to reset and restore activation state of Windows 7 to factory state during initial OOB (out of box) grace period. So, by using the ‘rearm’ hack, user can reset and extend the activation grace period (aka evaluation trial period) for up to 3 times, effectively running Windows 7 without product key without activation for up to 120 days, or 4 months. The trick is, the rearm hack must be done only when the 30 days trial period or activation grace period is about to expire.
‘Rearm’ trick on Windows 7 is done using the similar commands and steps with Windows Vista. Follow these steps to reset and extend activation grace period from 30 days to 120 days in Windows 7:
  1. Install Windows 7 without any product activation key.
  2. After installation is completed, use the Windows 7 for 30 days and wait for the remaining days left to activate Windows counting down to 0, or almost zero.
  3. When the activation grace period (or evaluation trial period) is almost expired or ended, log on to Windows 7 desktop, and open a Command Prompt window (i.e. type Cmd in Start Search and hit Enter).
  4. Type any of the following commands into the command prompt, and then hit Enter: sysprep /generalize
    slmgr.vbs –rearm
    rundll32 slc.dll,SLReArmWindows
    slmgr /rearm
  5. Reboot Windows 7 to enjoy another 30 days of free usage without worrying about activation nor even need to crack Windows 7.
  6. When the activation grace period countdown timer almost running down to 0 again, repeat the ‘rearm’ trick to enjoy another 30 days of Windows 7 for free. User can run the rearm command for maximum of 3 times.
As rearm only works for 3 times, make sure the command is only been run when the 30 days countdown of evaluation period is almost expired.

 

 


E. How to check the activation status?
You can use OpaTool or do it manually:

Manually check the activation status of your Windows
  1. Type cmd in Start menu.
  2. Right-click on the first result (cmd.exe) and click on Run as administrator (confirm by clicking Yes if required).
  3. Type
    Code:
    slmgr -dli
    Code:
    slmgr -xpr
    Code:
    slmgr -dlv
    Press ENTER after each command.
F-a. Install a certificate
You can use OpaTool or do it manually:
Manually install a certificate
  1. First, be sure to have SLIC 2.1 in your BIOS (you can use the SLIC DUMP ToolKit to check its presence).
  2. Download certificatesLink is broken? Try Mirror 1, Mirror 2.
  3. Put in C:\ the certificate that belong to your SLIC's brand.
  4. Type cmd in Start menu.
  5. Right-click on the first result (cmd.exe) and click on Run as administrator (confirm by clicking Yes if required).
  6. Type (Important: Replace "NAME" by the name of your certificate)
    Code:
    slmgr -ilc C:\NAME.xrm-ms
  7. Press ENTER and wait until a message confirms that the certificate has been correctly installed.
Note: Change C by the letter of your Windows 7's partition.
F-b. Install a key
You can use OpaTool or do it manually:
Manually install a key
  1. Type cmd in Start menu.
  2. Right-click on the first result (cmd.exe) and click on Run as administrator (confirm by clicking Yes if required).
  3. Type (Important: Replace the XXXXX by a valid OEM SLP product key — Pick one here
    Code:
    slmgr -ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
  4. Press ENTER and wait until a message confirms that the key has been correctly installed.
G. How to deactivate Windows and go back to the trial period?
Follow this brief tutorial:
Deactivate Windows and go back to the trial period
  1. Type cmd in Start menu.
  2. Right-click on the first result (cmd.exe) and click on Run as administrator (confirm by clicking Yes if required).
  3. Type
    Code:
    slmgr -rilc
    Code:
    slmgr -cpky
    Code:
    slmgr -upk
    Press ENTER after each command.
  4. Type (Important: Replace the XXXXX by the trial key that belong to your edition of Windows — Here is a list of the default keys)
    Code:
    slmgr -ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
H. Repair startup issues
If you have used an activator and for some reason it broke your system boot partition, you might be stuck at BIOS and Windows won't start anymore. No worry, it can be fixed easily:
  • If you used an activator from Daz, Hazar or nononsence:
    1. Hold the "R" key on your keyboard during startup, if nothing appear try again with the "C" key.
    2. When you see the loader menu, select "Windows without loader".
    3. Once on Windows, uninstall the loader and try another one.
  • Otherwise follow these steps:
Repair startup issues
  1. Put the Windows 7 installation disc in the disc drive, and then start your computer.
  2. Press a key when you are prompted.
  3. Select a language, a time, a currency, a keyboard or an input method, and then click Next.
  4. Click Repair your computer.
  5. Click the operating system that you want to repair, and then click Next.
  6. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Command Prompt.
  7. Type (these commands are safe - more information)
    Code:
    Bootrec.exe /FixMbr
    Code:
    Bootrec.exe /FixBoot
    Code:
    Bootrec.exe /RebuildBcd
    Press ENTER after each command.
  8. Restart your computer.

That should do the trick! However if you still can't start Windows, then follow step 1 to 6 again and type this command (more information about this command):
Code:
Bootsect.exe /nt60 all /force
Press ENTER and restart your computer.
I. My Windows shows an expiration date and/or says that key is invalid
If you get this on the final RTM of Windows 7, this is because you have used Toolkit 1.8 from Orbit or because you have installed a modified version of Windows 7 (e.g. Wzor modified version). It replaced some system files with files from the RC, which was designed to expire on March/June 2010. This can be fixed by making Windows reinitialize those files. To do so you can use the "Repair activation" feature from Hazar's activator, or do it manually if you wish:
Restore original tokens
  1. Type cmd in Start menu.
  2. Right-click on the first result (cmd.exe) and click on Run as administrator (confirm by clicking Yes if required).
  3. Type
    Code:
    slmgr -rilc
    Code:
    net stop sppsvc
    Code:
    cd %windir%\ServiceProfiles\NetworkService\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SoftwareProtectionPlatform
    Code:
    rename tokens.dat tokens.bar
    Code:
    cd %windir%\system32
    Code:
    net start sppsvc
    Press ENTER after each command.
  4. Restart your computer 2 times.
J. Tips for a safe and reliable system
Tips for a safe and reliable system
  • When downloading a software from the Internet, always check its authenticity by matching its HASH with the one provided by its official editor (e.g. Microsoft).
  • Only download updates for Windows through Windows Update or from Microsoft.com. Do not install leaked updates, since there are no HASHES available from Microsoft's website, nor any certitude that these updates will be ever released officially, nor any guarantee that it's not malicious software.
  • Do not run .exe files found on P2P networks, forums, blogs, or unknown websites. Always perform a virus check when you don't trust the download source.
  • Do not install anything that modify system files, including (but not limited to) Chew-WGA, RemoveWAT from Hazar, Toolkit 1.8 from Orbit30, and other similar tools that imply changing the way the operating system works by disabling or modifying main features (such as activation modules) or crucial characteristics (such as edition integrity) also known as "Frankenbuild monster".
K. Other loaders available
Here a short list of the main loaders available. They all have more or less the same features, and work similarly.

L. Activate Windows 7 by modifying your BIOS
If the loaders don't work for your computer, and you understand the risk this method imply, then you might try modding your BIOS.

WARNING: This method involves flashing your BIOS. If the flash fails or the modified BIOS is corrupted, your computer will stop working.
  1. Modify your BIOS:
    1. Type dxdiag in Start menu, press ENTER and look for your BIOS type.
    2. Go to the thread that belong to your type of BIOS in the Bios Mods > Bios Mod Requests sub-forum.
    3. If you're lucky, there is already a modified BIOS for your specific computer available to download (use the search function with your computer model or motherboard reference). If not, you can request that a volunteer makes one for you!
    4. Once you've got a modified version of your BIOS, update (flash) your motherboard with it.
  2. Activate Windows 7:
    1. Install a certificate that matches the SLIC's brand of your new BIOS.
    2. Install an OEM SLP key that matches your edition of Windows.

    For these last two steps you can use OpaTool, or do it manually (see section 6-F).

    Note: The certificate must match your SLIC's brand, while the key doesn't. However the key has to match your edition of Windows.

M. Do I really need to use a loader or to mod my BIOS?
If your computer is new, it might be possible that you don't even need to use a loader nor to mod your BIOS. To check that out, follow these steps:
  1. Download the SLIC DUMP ToolKit and run it as administrator (Right-click > Run as administrator).
  2. Select the tab "Advance".
  3. In the "SLIC Diagnosis" section, check if the version is "2.1", and check that there is no red color in the fields "PubKey", "Marker" and "Digital Signature".
  4. If the version is not "2.1" (e.g. "2.0"), or if there is text in red color, then you need to use a loader (or to mod your BIOS).
  5. Otherwise, if you do have SLIC 2.1, then you just need to install a certificate that matches your SLIC, and a valid OEM SLP key. Check out the instructions in section 6-F to install a certificate and a key.


7. Updating & Spreading the word!

A. Updating often is the secret for reliable information
Please help me keeping this post up-to-date by posting any new information that you've got. Also, please let me know if you've seen any mistake or any dead link so I can correct it as soon as possible.



Thank you!

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