How do I tell if a Windows 7 re-install disk is OEM (and subsequent installation) or not?

Can I explore the disk to look for a certain file or setting. And once installed can I go into the control panel and look for an indication or run a utility to detect?


I have a HP laptop which does not come with a full true Windows 7 install disk, instead it comes with recovery disk(s) and partition (i.e. a image of the hard drive partition at factory install).

At some point I would prefer to wipe the laptop disk and re-install cleanly on same laptop Windows 7 from a true Windows 7 OS (re)install disk, available on ebay, and use the genuine COA product serial license key from the label on the laptop. Reason for re-install is to get rid of all the guff (trialware, utils, etc) provided as standard. I would download necessary drivers from online.

I would prefer to obtain a Windows 7 re-install disk that is not OEM. This would be handy for use on other machines later (which have their own genuine COA), hence the preference as OEM is locked to motherboard hardware. I will be looking for an install that matches the Windows 7 edition on the laptop, i.e. 64bit home premium.


Regular Windows 7 setup disks will accept OEM product keys. I've done this so many times. . .

It's not like under XP/Server 2003.


You cannot do it with Recovery discs from HP, you could however use a standard W7 install disc, then download and install software and drivers using this page, Select Software and Drivers Downloads http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/product?product=4041797&lc=en&cc=us&dlc=en&lang=en&cc=us W7 ISO downloads here http://www.mydigitallife.info/2010/04/28/download-windows-7-iso-official-32-bit-and-64-bit-direct-do...

Just in case you need proof.

  • Indeed and thanks for the advice. I've done my procedure before, but for XP Home, so was wondering if possible in W7. With XP Home scenario, I had a Toshiba NB100 netbook with XP home preinstalled, only recovery disk, some guff on it. So bought Dell XP home reinstall disk off ebay, re-installed on same machine with that, used COA license key sticker on toshiba and downloaded drivers. Nice swift little machine. – therobyouknow Sep 12 '11 at 10:23
  • It should work out. – surfasb Sep 12 '11 at 10:37
  • regarding my digital life: not sure if I would want to trust 3rd-party hosting of Windows 7 .ISO images. What if they inserted Malware into them? Not saying they have but, it's possible. – therobyouknow Sep 12 '11 at 14:38
  • You can match the checksums with the ones from MSDN. They are the same ISOs. But usually a third party hosts them. That's pretty typical actually. – surfasb Sep 12 '11 at 16:11
  • Presumably, these .ISO files are non-OEM install disc images - i.e. not locked to any particular motherboard, given that many people can download the same image and install from it. If it was a Windows 7 OEM install image, then as per definition of OEM in Windows 7, it would lock to the machine hardware for the first person that downloaded and installed it, and then subsequent downloaders wouldn't be able to use it. – therobyouknow Sep 15 '11 at 13:07

An OEM disk will always clearly state it is an OEM and will likely have the text

"Licensed only for distribution with a new PC".

As for telling if the installation is an OEM edition, this is a little more difficult, but you will likely see branding specific to the PC manufactur, a logo and support numbers in the section:

Control Panel\System and Security\System

The difference will also be clear on a retail edition of a Windows 7 DVD and install (no branding).

  • 1
    +1 because what you say are indicative of OEM. Chances are that it is a true OEM disk that will only be usable on that hardware (locked to it in Windows 7) and not re-usable on anything else. But until it says OEM on the disk, can't be 100% sure. – therobyouknow Sep 15 '11 at 13:10

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