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dell laptop, vista won't activate

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I purchased a dell laptop a while back (sadly before the date that would make it elegable for the free 7 upgrade)
It came with windows vista business (which is what the product key on the bottom of the laptop is for), and it had a free xp downgrade, which is what came installed on the laptop.

I reinstalled xp a while back (I won't go into detail why... something about attempting to do a ha**in**sh), and it was preactivated when I got into windows (like dell systems should do)

Well I was bored and wanted to mess around with vista, so I took the vista cd that came with my laptop, and yesterday I installed it on my laptop, but unlike my xp cd, it wasn't already activated when I got into windows.
It had the oem key installed. I don't really know much about dell activation, so I guessed maybe I have to use the key on the bottom of my laptop, so I hit the activate button (with the oem key still on the system) and it asked me to type in a new key. So I typed in the key on the sticker on the bottom of my laptop... the problem is it still wont activate.
So I don't really know what the problem is. I wouldn't think it was something with the bios since my xp pre-activates, but I went ahead and updated the bios (which happens to now let me pre-activate windows 7... if I had it), and then I re installed vista, but with no luck.

My brother sugested that I got a bum vista disk. (if so, that kind of sucks for me... and with my first dell purchase)

So my question is, does anyone know what I can do to allow me to activate my copy of vista on my computer?

You're perfectly within you rights.

Microsoft's official position is as follows:

End users may reinstall Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Ultimate at any time, provided the downgrade operating system has been removed from the computer, and the Windows Vista software is reinstalled on the PC it was originally installed on with the original OEM System Builder edge-to -edge media distributed with the original PC. The end user will need to use the Product Key, located in the center of the COA, in order to activate the product.

--- End quote ---

If it installed, and you were able to boot into a Vista desktop, you can rule out bum media. Activation is a whole separate issue.

There are a lot of reasons your activation might have failed. But the quickest way to get that straightened out is to follow the onscreen contact information Microsoft provides if Vista refuses to activate. A Microsoft CSR will walk you through what you need to do to fix the problem.


Quick question: did your brother, or anyone else you know who has a Dell laptop, borrow your previously unwanted copy and install/activate it on their machine?

That happened to a client of mine. She and her son both have identical brand and model laptops. She bought his with (at his insistence) XP. Hers came with Vista and the downgrade option. She downgraded to XP shortly after she got it. A few months later, her son reformatted his laptop and used her copy of Vista without telling her. A year later, she went to reinstall Vista and discovered it was already in use when she went to activate it.

The Microsoft reps were polite but firm...

She's now waiting for Windows 7.  :-\

This was the first time the cd had been used. (I even had the break the sticker that sealed the cd sleeve)
We were thinking that the cd was a bum cd in that it didn't have the oem certificate loaded on it or something.

I did try clicking on the contact dell support button when it refused to activate after I typed in the key on the bottom of the laptop, but it only popped up the vista troubleshoot box with random garbage in it that didn't even relate to activation problems (I guess it was the troubleshoot box... it was a help box thing, whatever) I don't know if I did that right. I will see if I can follow the onscreen contact information and see if that does anything.

I'm not certain, but I would think there would always be a phone activation option (what if you didn't have internet access?). If all else fails disconnect from the internet (turn off the Wi-Fi if you can) and try activating again. Windows should give you the phone option when it figures out that there isn't an internet connection available.

I've done the phone activation many times. The Microsoft voice recognition system is actually very good. Usually after you say the activation code you'll be connected with an operator who will ask a single question which is something like "onto how many computers is this copy of Windows installed?". You just tell them how many (it should be just one of course) and they'll give you a new code to type into the comp. It almost always takes between six and seven minutes.

but it only popped up the vista troubleshoot box with random garbage in it
-nite_monkey (September 15, 2009, 05:32 PM)
--- End quote --- THAT does sound like either a bad install or a bum disk. :tellme:

Try doing another installation first and see if that clears things up. If it doesn't, something is probably wrong with your media.

Anyway, try starting with <*choke*> Dell's Support. (I know, I know. I feel your pain. ;)) But look at it this way: if it turns out you do need a need a replacement Vista CD, Dell is the only one that will be able to ship you one without your having to pay for it.


+1 with Hirudan BTW. Microsoft takes a lot of heat for their Genuine Advantage and activation policies. But so far (knock wood) I've done phone activations dozens of times and have always found the Microsoft reps to be efficient and helpful.

Luck & let us know how you make out. :Thmbsup:


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