Laptop Windows Recovery

No Windows Disk With Laptops

I recently came across a post regarding a problem experienced in trying to recover a broken Windows Vista Operating System on a Laptop.

windows 7 logo

Windows 7

The laptop was supplied without a windows installation disk; which is an increasingly common scenario. Laptop manufacturers (OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturers) seem to feel that the built-in recovery function is sufficient, and saves them a few cents of the cost of supplying a disk.

Sadly, the recovery system does not always work… damaged hard drives, viruses, and numerous other lesser factors can prevent this from working as expected.

The unhappy laptop owner put the blame on Microsoft; “since Microsoft stopped supplying installation disks with laptops” I contend this is not Microsoft’s fault, it is the OEM laptop manufacturers fault.  Microsoft does not manufacture laptops. In fact Microsoft made Vista readily available, and 7 can be installed from any disk using the matching version and the PC owners ‘key’.

Microsoft does not sell Windows CD’s, they sell the licence, i.e. the right to use the operating system. Anyone can download the operating system from their website for free, and even run it on trial for a limited period of time. When you decide to keep the version you are happy with, purchase the licence, enter the activation code, and you have a full and legal Windows installation.

I agree that not having the disk on hand is annoying. Perhaps it is time Microsoft demanded OEM’s provided an installation disk included with the package. Consumer demand is of course the real answer. Refuse to buy any equipment that does not come with a legal version of the operating system, whetehr it is new or used.

It is not exactly a new phenomenon, Going as far back as Windows XP and perhaps even earlier, OEM’s were providing their own disks, which often had a customised Windows installation, rather than the standard version which Microsoft provides on their own disks. Very often these OEM’s (and I mention Dell, and Hewlett Packard) had hard coded the BIOS, which was then locked, making it extremely difficult for owners, even technicians, to install any other version of operating system. They of course will contend this is to “improve the user experience of their products” and other such nonsense! This practice was not only limited to laptops, but the desktops from some manufacturers also had this limitation built-in.

I believe they do this in order to lock their customers into their own support network! While it is reasonable to expect the owner of ANY equipment to be required to make use of a manufacturers support service during the WARRANTY period, making it extremely difficult for the owner to choose another service agent outside of warranty is a violation of consumer rights, definitely in my own country, and I am certain this applies in the USA and much of the EU as well. Consumers have a right to choose!

All is not lost however

As mentioned, the operating system can be obtained from Microsft or other sources. Just download it (using another PC if the one with the problem has totally ceased to work, burn it to a disk a writeable DVD will be required) and run this on the PC (or laptop) required. You may need to choose which version to use.

On your laptop or desktop, there will be a ‘certificate of authenticity’ which describes the version the licence is for, and the ‘key’ to enter when requested. That’s it, the installer will continue and the system will soon be back up and running.

Real life examples:

This reminds of a similar situation I had to fix for a laptop owner, whom for convenience, I will call ‘Ivor’. Ivor had bought his laptop from a retail PC chain store. It came as all

HP Pavillion Laptop

HP Pavillion Laptop

these chains store boxes do, with only the basics. There is not much one can do with any PC that has nothing but the bare basics provided in Windows OS. and after a brief period of time ‘Ivor’ required MS Office installed.

Ivor is not a technical person, and had no idea how to install a program, so he asked the IT support guy at work to organise the software and install it for him. Now, it is fair to expect such a person, who is responsible for maintaining a fairly large company’s computer network to be able to do a good and proper job.

The laptop came back with the expected Office applications installed, and all was fine, until not so long afterwards, the applications stopped working. Yes, you know what is coming next.

This so-called ‘expert’ had installed an illegal (or duplicate) copy of MS office; not only that, he had overwritten the windows installation with another version (original install was Vista Home Premium, while the ‘fundi’ had installed a Business Version. Of course, once this ‘IT expert’ used the same authorisation code on another PC, the first one, on Ivor’s laptop’ was seen as illegal, and deactivated by Microsoft’s server. By this time, the ‘expert’ had left Ivor’s work, and was no longer available. I wonder how many other people he caught out with that same trick, lining his pocket with the proceeds for the software and the labour?

Problem Solved

So enter myself. Ivor asked me to look at the laptop, and fix it. Of course I asked for the install disk, and of course none had been provided (the laptop was an HP Pavillion). So, over to, download the OS, install, configure and all was fine. A retail version of MS Office was then installed; If Ivor had originally purchased the laptop from

microsft office

MS Office DSP

me, I would have been able to provide him at the time of sale with a DSP version of the application, which would have saved him quite a bit of cash, not only for the retail software, but also for the illegal version this unscrupulous ‘expert’ had fleeced off him.

Of course, I may not sell DSP software unless I sell the NEW equipment it will run on. Those are the terms and conditions I accepted when becoming a DSP reseller. (If other vendors choose to ignore these terms and conditions, that is their business. Pirate software and bending or breaking the terms of use makes these software applications more expensive to all users. If an end-user doesn’t want to pay for an application, use OpenSource. It is almost always free and many available programs are excellent! OpenOffice has grown into a mature and full featured alternative to MS office. It even reads and creates MS .doc and .docx documents).

(DSP stands for Dealer Support Program, and by providing this to a client, the seller undertakes to provide the backup service which Microsoft offer free as part of the Retail Version of the application, or the buyer pays Microsoft on a ‘per incident’ basis. The vender, by selling a DSP version, agrees to comply with the terms as stipulated by Microsoft, Being able to sell DSP is not a right, it is a privilege. Microsoft makes this available to resellers as a way of supporting their business. Don’t abuse it)

Microsoft Logo

Microsoft Will Help

We all love to slate Microsoft, as we do in the case of any big corporate, and MS is BIG. However MS is very helpful to LEGAL users of their software. Al long as it can be proven you have purchased a genuine version of any of their applications, they will assist you to recover the application. Lets consider a few instances how this can be achieved:

  • You have lost your installation disk and need to re-install. As long as you have the certificate of authenticity (the ‘key number’) any matching version disk can be used to re-install and the server will activate the software.
    • The software can be installed, and there are a number of ways to activate. If it is a re-installation on a PC which still has the original components (that hasn’t had a big upgrade like a new CPU or another mainboard, the activation server will direct you to find a hidden code, that when entered will satisfy the server it is genuine Microsoft. Alternatively, a phone call to the local Offices of Microsoft, where you will be assisted by their telephone activation service will accomplish the same result.
    • If this fails, perhaps you had installed a more powerful processor, or replaced a damaged mainboard, or even installed un upgraded mainboard, a call to the same service centre where an operator will assist you through the process.
  • You have damaged or lost the certificate of authenticity, but have the genuine installation disk from Microsoft. Contact your local Microsoft offices. You may be asked to e-mail the support person a colour SCAN of the installation disk. This is sufficient to satisfy Microsoft you really do have a legal version of the software
  • You have lost or damaged the certificate of authenticity, and have also lost the disk (perhaps you moved house, and the box containing it ‘went missing’ in the move. If you have the receipt for the purchasing the genuine software from a supplier, Microsoft will once again help you.
  • With Windows XP, they would even provide a new disk, for a very small fee, to cover the cost of postage or other delivery. With 7 and Vista, the installer can be downloaded from the website as mentioned previously.

Of course, the onus is on you to provide proof you have paid for the licence to use the software. So keep your receipts!

As I mentioned, MS does not sell disks, it sells the licence to use what comes on the disk.

About Mike

Web Developer and Techno-geek Saltwater fishing nut Blogger

Posted on September 2, 2011, in Laptop, Windows and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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