Windows 8 Pro to 7 Pro downgrade - unattended deployment? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    I've searched forums, knowledge base, and various blogs, but still can't get full picture of the issue I am facing.

    I am IT technician at my company, responsible for preparation and deployment of OS. Inside our company we use volume licensing and KMS activation, we deploy OS's by WDS/MDT, using an W7 Enterprise image. All works fine. But the issue at hand, is that we allow small companies to become our 'partners'. They are separate from us at all levels, but brand and IT. As IT we provide them support and apps. They buy their own hardware though. The exact nature of theese relations is beyond my understaning, what I know is that we can not use our W7 enterprise image and VL to deploy systems for our partners.

    There are 2 scenarios to be handled.

    1. Partner purchased a machine (as per our standard is either DELL, HP or LENOVO), with W7 pro OEM preinstalled.

    2. Partner purchased a machine with W8 pro OEM preinstalled.

    My solution for both scenarios is to install a golden W7 pro image, using media provided by manufacturer. Then Proceed to capture it to WDS and later on deploy on any subsequent machine. The installation media uses SLP activation, and I use SLP key for specified manufacturer in each image. System comes up automagically, activated, as it were installed manually from media.

    All this is already tested in my lab enviroment. Waiting to be accepted as our deployment process for partner companies.

    But issue I have with this is that, I'm not sure if it is actually legal. I did my investigation. All preinstalled Windows 7's for specific manufacturer come with the same product key (SLP key), and no COA sticker on the case. The very same key is used in the image. Yet, the license agreement states the following:

    "Organizations do not have the right to reimage by using OEM media.

    An OEM image can only be preloaded on a PC by the OEM during manufacturing. An image can be individually recovered by the organization (or a service provider it chooses) by using the recovery media. The OEM recovery media should match the product version originally preinstalled on the system; no other image can be used to restore the system to its original state"

    My understanding of this is that I should in fact use media provided by manufacturer for each and every machine I need to prepare for our partners, even though the system deployed with my method is practically the same (same key, same version, same language).

    Another problem I have with downgrade from Windows 8. My reasearch showed that each (of 2 cases, we have at the moment) of preinstalled 8's have different product key. According to Microsoft website on the subject, I should go through downgrade process, which involves generating new Windows 7 key based on 8 key, usually in a process of telephone activation. Very time-consuming, very IT resources consuming.

    So, having wrote all that, here are my questions:

    1. Is it legal to deploy Windows 7 Pro, slp activated, from my image on top of factory pre-installed Windows 7 Pro OEM?

    2. Is it legal to deploy Windows 7 Pro, slp activated from my image on top of factory pre-installed Windows 8 Pro OEM, thus excersising downgrade rights?

    3. If the answer on any of those question is "no" - what would be the best course of action for me, not to change OS deployments for partners into one masive time-sink for our IT? Our deployments will involve hundreds of machines, owned by numerous partner companies.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014 10:15 AM


  • #1 I can't say.

    #2 is tricky. The issue here is that Downgrade Rights is an end-user right. You state that you are working on PCs that are not owned by your company, but owned by another company or partner. This applies:

    Authorizing a third party to exercise downgrade rights for an end user

    Because downgrade rights apply to end users, they are not designed for third-party facilitation, which has many complications. Also, such facilitation is not suitable for carrying out on a large scale.

    Regarding the usage of a recovery image or media from an OEM on a system that was not sold with it... I don't think it really matters as long as you have a valid Windows 8 license. Here is the tricky part. The OEM may or may not have the relevant Windows 7 SLP info in the BIOS on a Windows 8 PC that they sell. There is no requirement for that to be there except for on true Win7 or Win7 from a OEM facilitated downgrade. So if you have this situation, Win7 from the OEM's recovery media will not activate and you will need a product key from a previously used Retail or OEM install.

    This is why VLK is best for this use instead. You are also mistaken about calling into the activation center to get a Windows 7 product key. They aren't supposed to give you one but I have heard cases where it does happen. As mentioned before, the product key you use for a downgrade is from a prior licensed Windows 7 COA.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014 5:15 PM