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Windows Vista Product Key Rubbed Off

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So a family members laptop has had malware lurking on it (fake anti-virus bs), and I've attempted removing it previously but it kept coming back every other week. Trying to delete it from the registry and using numerous different types of anti-malware with the same out come of it returning. Well I finally had enough and being an idiot I formatted the laptop, knowing there was a product key on the base from purchase. Well after the format and during the install process of Vista, the damn product key on the bottom is half rubbed off.

So I'm asking if anyone has been in the same situation as myself, obviously the logical thing to do is call Microsoft, but thought I would ask here first for some advice. Believe it or not, it's only 4 letters which have been rubbed off, and I've tried nearly ever letter / number that it looks like.

Do you think Microsoft could help me out? Or will they just charge me for another, which I won't pay for (would rather buy 7) and I'll just end up cracking the damn thing.

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So a family members laptop has had malware lurking on it (fake anti-virus bs), and I've attempted removing it previously but it kept coming back every other week. Trying to delete it from the registry and using numerous different types of anti-malware with the same out come of it returning. Well I finally had enough and being an idiot I formatted the laptop, knowing there was a product key on the base from purchase. Well after the format and during the install process of Vista, the damn product key on the bottom is half rubbed off.

So I'm asking if anyone has been in the same situation as myself, obviously the logical thing to do is call Microsoft, but thought I would ask here first for some advice. Believe it or not, it's only 4 letters which have been rubbed off, and I've tried nearly ever letter / number that it looks like.

Do you think Microsoft could help me out? Or will they just charge me for another, which I won't pay for (would rather buy 7) and I'll just end up cracking the damn thing.

Try this: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html

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Edit : Never mind.

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Thanks for the advice, only problem is I can't use any program like that because I've already formatted? Hence the reason I'm an idiot.

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Thanks for the advice, only problem is I can't use any program like that because I've already formatted?

D'oh! Yeah that kills any use of the keyfinder apps.

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I would call the support line of the manufacturer of the laptop. You have a better chance since they would know the key assigned based on the laptop serial number.

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I would call the support line of the manufacturer of the laptop. You have a better chance since they would know the key assigned based on the laptop serial number.

Thanks, I'll have to try and dig out Acer's support number tomorrow morning. I've been reading online that Microsoft wont help because it's going to be an OEM install. Awesome!

Although it's so damn annoying as it's only 4 letters that's missing!

If all fails, Ubuntu it is.

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I really hate the product key stickers on the bottom of laptops, they always wear off.

Laptops often have a hidden restore partition with the Windows installation files. There may be an option to boot from this and restore your computer (keep hitting F8 as soon as you turn it on and check the list). The restore option may be under "Repair your computer". OEM installations should be pre-activated so I don't think you would need to type in the product key. Since you formatted it you may not be able to get into the boot menu though; check Acer's site for a startup disk or ask about them about how to access it and run system restore when you call. This might also be a good opportunity to upgrade to Windows 7. ;)

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I would call the support line of the manufacturer of the laptop. You have a better chance since they would know the key assigned based on the laptop serial number.

If my experience with HP has taught me anything, it's that this isn't true. Hopefully for OP, I was just unlucky.

Laptops often have a hidden restore partition with the Windows installation files. There may be an option to boot from this and restore your computer (keep hitting F8 as soon as you turn it on and check the list. The restore option may be under "Repair your computer". OEM installations should be pre-activated so I don't think you would need to type in the product key.

This is definitely your best bet.... except for the fact that he formatted his computer. Even if the recovery partition is still there, the repair option was part of the original install's boot config. It won't be there anymore (The same exact thing happened to me today). Depending on manufacturer, there might be some hoops you can jump through to get into the recovery partition anyway.

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Laptops often have a hidden restore partition with the Windows installation files. There may be an option to boot from this and restore your computer (keep hitting F8 as soon as you turn it on and check the list. The restore option may be under "Repair your computer". OEM installations should be pre-activated so I don't think you would need to type in the product key.

It did have a hidden restore partition and when I tried to restore from it, it said it was corrupt so I just formatted the hole thing. Funny you should mention about it being pre-activated it had a different product key to the one on the bottom of the laptop which is rubbed.

I have this key but it says it can't be activated and that I have 3 days to try a different key.

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There are supposedly ways to insert the OEM licence certificates into clean installs, though I've personally never gotten it to work... It's technically illegal, but since you've got a valid license... just keep it in mind in case calling Acer and MS doesn't work out.

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There are supposedly ways to insert the OEM licence certificates into clean installs, though I've personally never gotten it to work... It's technically illegal, but since you've got a valid license... just keep it in mind in case calling Acer and MS doesn't work out.

Thanks, I'll look into this tomorrow morning.

Thanks for the advice all.

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Just install your Windows 7 without a key, look up Acer's support info online and they will be able to help you once you have given the the model/serial for the laptop.

You don't appear to be without access to the internet (posting on here) why don't you just look it up now or is this a linux ad?

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If only there was a "Windows Loader" Then you could just install windows 7!

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You just need to use the Vista SLP key with OEM Certs. All am going to say!

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Acer uses a Windows 7 image that doesn't require activation at all (it's "tattooed" in the motherboard).

Call Acer, they will have to issue you a new key for some money or send you the OEM restore cds for money that wont require the key.

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Acer uses a Windows 7 image that doesn't require activation at all (it's "tattooed" in the motherboard).

Call Acer, they will have to issue you a new key for some money or send you the OEM restore cds for money that wont require the key.

I agree, if I was you, I will order the original restore CDs. They will only charge you a small fee for the shipping.

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As others have already said, you should probably look at using SLP activation. If you ordered the restore discs from your system manufacturer, this is the method that they would use, but there is no reason why you can't do it yourself.

Here is a quick synopsis of SLP according to Wikipedia:

System Locked Preinstallation, often abbreviated as SLP, is a procedure used by major OEM computer manufacturers in order to preactivate Microsoft Windows before mass distribution. There are three different versions of SLP: 2.1, 2.0, and SLP, which is now commonly referred to as SLP 1.0 to avoid confusion. These versions roughly coincide with Windows NT versions (see table below). Operating systems that use SLP 1.0 check for a particular text string in a computer's BIOS upon booting. If the text string does not match the information stored in the particular installation's OEM BIOS files, the user is prompted to activate his or her copy as normal. SLP 2.0 and SLP 2.1 works in a similar manner. This effectively "locks" the operating system to the qualified motherboard. In addition, if an end user feels the need to perform a "clean install" of Windows, and if the manufacturer supplies the user with an installation disc (not a "System Recovery" disc that is a hard drive image), the user will not be prompted to activate the copy, given that the installation is performed on the same motherboard. Furthermore, because the check only involves the BIOS and not hardware, a user is allowed to change virtually all hardware components within the machine except motherboard, a procedure that would normally trigger re-activation in retail Windows copies.

Since your BIOS already has the SLP 2.0 certificate embedded into it, all you need are the other two pieces of the puzzle: the OEM's software certificate and master product key. Fortunately, these are not specific to your computer and can be easily installed. I wrote a small utility that will automatically do this for you. (So long as Windows Vista is up-to-date first, it will crash otherwise.) Before someone inevitably points this out, this is not piracy! Pirates use a similar method, except they install a loader that emulates the BIOS certificate. You have no need for that because you have a legitimate certificate already in your BIOS. My utility does not install a loader or otherwise attempt to spoof the BIOS certificate. It will only install the other two pieces necessary to activate Windows. This is the exact same method the your OEM used before they shipped your computer.

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