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Windows 7 - GPT/MBR/UEFI RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi, is someone familiar with this?

    We don't own volume licensing for 7 Pro. We use the OEM copy that comes with our HP workstations. The workstations are pre-formatted in GPT and come with a recovery CD. The recovery CD only has 7 and no garbage-ware. So I took a new machine and used the CD to recover the base OS only and from there I created a reference image. I left the D: drive which is labeled as HP RECOVERY alone.  I captured the C: drive only using USB to get my .wim file and imported that into MDT 2010 (we're still on 2008R2) and setup a Task Sequence.

    If I tell MDT to format in GPT, it does so but the task sequence fails on Install Operating System. The errors state that it can't find the boot volume and how it had issues with BCDBOOT. It's the 5615 error.  But if I tell MDT to format using MBR, the Task Sequence completes successfully.

    But what does that do for my activation? I don't get straight answers from HP despite having spoken with a few reps. They just keep saying they're not familiar with what I'm trying to do and that's cool.  When I read online, I get confused because I read up on so many different yet contradicting perspectives on this topic of Windows activation, UEFI, GPT vs. MBR, etc.  Seems the common theme however is that these things are somehow related to the OEM activation of Win7.

    I don't know if this matters, but when I go into the BIOS of the systems, it says the built-in Intel card can only do a legacy boot and not a UEFI run.

    If I move forward with setting my Task Sequence to format new computer runs using MBR (and not GPT), and then proceed with imaging the workstation using my reference image, how will it (or will it not) impact activation of Win7?

    Thanks,

    JS

    Monday, August 10, 2015 3:42 PM

Answers

  • Only one way to find out, and that's to run slmgr -ato and see if it's truly activated.  I would figure you're eventually going to run into licensing issues unless you're reimaging with a VLK.  You're better off properly licensing these machines than trying to save a small bit of money on licensing.  I think with Windows 7 you can reimage with the image that comes from HP and handle activation from the embedded Windows key, but it seems like a lot of risk should that licensing fail.  Hope this helps.

    Ryan

    • Marked as answer by steinermanj Tuesday, August 11, 2015 10:26 PM
    Tuesday, August 11, 2015 7:50 PM

All replies

  • If the machine boots uefi MDT automatically does GPT.  Just leave the format and partition step the default and you should have a GPT partitioning scheme.

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    Monday, August 10, 2015 4:55 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi, 

    What is meant by "if the machine boots uefi..."?   

    When I check "storage options" under the BIOS, it lists all possible boot devices. The UEFI section only shows stuff like USB and CD/DVD. The Intel NIC is listed under "Legacy".  Silly/stupid - does this imply I am not doing a UEFI boot?

    My MDT options for format and stuff are back to default. The default was to use MBR, 100% of space with variable set to OSDisk. So leaving it as such, as I mentioned, it completes the imaging.

    A newly imaged workstation shows that the copy of Windows is activated. Not knowing how this activation works, is it safe to assume that this hardware instance has been activated successfully?  Or is this instead some carry over from the reference image where the reference image had already been activated and potentially I will now have an "n" number of machines that won't truly be activated but will be carrying the activation setting off the reference image?  Does what I'm asking even make sense?

    Thanks.

    -JS

    Monday, August 10, 2015 5:06 PM
  • I don't know about the OEM key. You could do few and verify what key is used.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.



    Monday, August 10, 2015 5:18 PM
    Moderator
  • Through experience I've found that older computers that have UEFI but that don't show the hard drive when UEFI is enabled, also don't support Secure boot. In those cases, I've just left the machine in legacy mode. If you're computer has the option to enable secure boot then it should be just fine using UEFI, otherwise stick to legacy. That also means you must use MBR and not GPT. Still MDT will automatically partition and format the drive correctly, you don't have to modify it.

    If this post is helpful please vote it as Helpful or click Mark for answer.


    • Edited by Dan_Vega Monday, August 10, 2015 9:06 PM
    Monday, August 10, 2015 9:05 PM
  • Shoot, I hit something on my keyboard and lost what I wrote (I think).  Refreshing the page doesn't show my edit so I'll try again.

    Ty, Dan - thanks. But I already had it working by leaving it on MBR. It formats the drive as MBR and despite that my reference image was created off GPT, after imaging diskpart shows it as MBR. But of more interest to me is that Windows shows it being activated.

    Just not sure if that means that this particular hardware instance running this particular Windows instance is activated?  Or if any machine will show it's activated because it was already activated during the reference image creation and somehow that "activated flag" just carried over to the new machine(s).

    Dan - even if I get some tool to see the product key - am I supposed to see unique keys for each imaged machine?  Or am I supposed to see the same key per machine? The latter because at least per HP, they're saying that the OEM licensing is based off their volume licensing with MS and thus, I'm left to possibly conclude that it's not unreasonable to see that each machine I image will have the same product key.

    I don't know at this point - I can just say "shoot whatever, the image works, move on". I guess if I deploy this to 50 machines, I just don't want someone to possibly get a thing that says "Hey your copy of Windows isn't genuine" because the reference image has now been distributed to many machines and each of them have tried to activate way too many times...

    Does anyone know what this UEFI/GPT/encrypted thing off the motherboard/Windows Activation thing works? Sorry to keep whining.  HP hasn't given me a clear answer on this.

    -JS

    Monday, August 10, 2015 10:00 PM
  • It doesn't matter what file system or partition scheme is used on your reference computer, ImageX/DISM use a file by file capture method and not a sector by sector cloning method.

    Activation should happen during the deployment process, however I must ask Did you sysprep your reference image? As for the product key you would have been the one to supply MDT with that when you created your task sequence. If you didn't provide a product key then you need a KMS server to license windows.

    The last part you mention, if that's about the windows license being stored in the BIOS you must be installing the same version/edition of windows that came with your computer for it to work.

    Licensing questions might be answered here - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Licensing/learn-more/brief-reimaging-rights.aspx


    If this post is helpful please vote it as Helpful or click Mark for answer.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015 1:20 PM
  • Only one way to find out, and that's to run slmgr -ato and see if it's truly activated.  I would figure you're eventually going to run into licensing issues unless you're reimaging with a VLK.  You're better off properly licensing these machines than trying to save a small bit of money on licensing.  I think with Windows 7 you can reimage with the image that comes from HP and handle activation from the embedded Windows key, but it seems like a lot of risk should that licensing fail.  Hope this helps.

    Ryan

    • Marked as answer by steinermanj Tuesday, August 11, 2015 10:26 PM
    Tuesday, August 11, 2015 7:50 PM
  • Hi, Dan.

    Yes, I sysprepped:

    • sysprep /generalize /audit /reboot /unattend:myfile.xml
    • sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown 
    • Then booted to USB, ran capture.  Uploaded capture separately to MDT.

    Unfortunately, per HP, with these Z230 workstations, there is no product key. It follows the Win8 model of doing this funky encrypted thing off the mobo/BIOS and provided the reference image is built with the HP Recovery CD, when Win7 powers up, it'll auto activate. So there isn't a product key to enter.  So at least for Win7, we don't have the capability to run one-time MAK activations or use a KMS server either.

    I'll check out your licensing post.

    Thanks,

    -JS



    Tuesday, August 11, 2015 10:13 PM
  • Hi, Ryan.

    Agreed on volume licensing but this one is out of my hands. We have volume licensing on server-side products, but just not on the Win7 clients.  

    I ran slmgr -ato and it says my instance is properly activated.  I'm just going to trust that the instance of the newly imaged machine is truly activated and that Windows isn't just reporting that because it was somehow "saved" into the original reference image.

    Thanks,

    -JS

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015 10:25 PM