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dell laptop, vista won't activate

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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.
-Hirudin (September 15, 2009, 06:02 PM)
--- End quote ---
I may have to try that and see if it works
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.
-Hirudin (September 15, 2009, 06:02 PM)
--- End quote ---
Eew, thats the part I don't like. The person is usually Chinese(or Japanese I don't know which) and I can't really understand what they are saying very well.

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:

-40hz (September 15, 2009, 06:09 PM)
--- End quote ---
oh joy, I may have an effed up disk then. I've installed vista three times now with this disk (on the same computer, all three times not being able to activate)

edit:well I just got the phone option(after I typed in the key on the bottom of the laptop) I wish I didn't have to do this, but oh well I will see what happens I guess

The thing about Dells (and Compaqs, Sonys, HPs, etc.) is that if you use the disc that came with the PC there should be no activation at all. To simplify the explanation, there are three components your Dell needs to activate: a royalty OEM key which is embedded in the installer on your Dell-provided disc, a certificate file which is also on the disc, and a string of data that is in your laptop's BIOS.

If all three of these things are present when you install Vista or Win 7 your OS will be permanently activated when it boots up for the first time with no need to contact Microsoft. The key on the bottom of your laptop is a fallback in case the above doesn't work. Since it doesn't work, either, and coupled with the 'garbage' you are seeing it sounds like a bad disc.

Contact Dell and have them send you a replacement disc and all will be well. If that doesn't give you any satisfaction you can get a copy of any Dell OEM Vista disc from a friend or elsewhere and it'll work just as well.

Feel free to contact me by PM if you have questions about pursuing a solution that doesn't involve Dell taking pity upon you.

Carol Haynes:
Have you tried restoring factory settings via the Dell recovery partition? If you purchased a machine with Vista and XP downgrade the recovery partition will probably be the activated version of Vista (unless the downgrade overwrote it with an XP install).

Usually to restore a factory setting (it will wipe everything so backup first) you press F10 when you see the blue Dell bar at startup (you have to be very quick). If it doesn't work either check in the bumpf that came with the computer of do a search in Google for 'factory restore' and your model number.

Chances are that if it came with a disk, it doesn't have a recovery partition. If the disk was made with the backup utility after purchase (which backs up the recovery partition to disks and can be used only once to make a single set of disks), then the recovery partition should still be there (unless the user removed it) Since you mentioned that you had to break the seal, we can rule out that the disks were made by you from a recovery partition.

Vista with downgrade to XP is only offered to Dell business customers not home user machines as far as I know, and there is no recovery partition that I am aware of, and they install XP and give you both XP and Vista installation disks. (at least that's how they did it with both of my Dells, and I had to go through Dell Small Business to buy machines with XP downgrade option)

There is 2 thoughts that I have had about this situation:

1. Did you try to install Vista over the XP to upgrade it or did you format and do a clean install? Your Vista disk could be an OEM for new installations only and not intended for upgrading, so if you tried to install it over the XP that might cause an issue and invalidate the install.

If this is not the situation, then maybe this is:

2. Have you tried washing the disk yet? Sometimes an optical drive is really sensitive to tiny amounts of foreign matter on a disk that you might not notice, such as the skin oils in a fingerprint. Just wiping with a soft dry cloth doesn't remove these oils, and it can still cause problems in some drives.

What you can do is wet it under running water (room temperature, not warm or cold) and then apply a single drop of a mild liquid dish washing detergent made for hand washing dishes (not the stuff that goes in a dishwasher machine! and not the stuff with hand lotion in it!). Then rinse it well, and dry it with the back of an old soft well worn T-shirt that has no printing on it.

Wait about 10 minutes and try doing a repair install or reinstall. (be really careful not to get any fingerprints on it).

I used to have a PC that one of the optical drives was so sensitive that I had to do this to ALL disks I used in it, or the drive just couldn't read them properly.

Carol Haynes:
I have yet to see a Dell machine without a recovery partition (even when they come with discs - which I suppose they would have to supply for 2 different operating systems).

You are almost certainly right though a clean install would be a likely requirement.

As an aside - the sticker Windows codes on the bottom/back of computers hardly ever work these days and MS won't activate them manually either. They are really just a 'this a genuine copy' certificate and the codes are pretty much deactivated because OEMs use a totally different mechanism to avoid any sort of activation. The problem with the sticker code (from Microsoft's point of view) is that in the past these were usable codes and so people installed the OS on another PC as well as the intended OEM PC. Given that the code on the box was never the same as the one used for the original OEM installation that didn't require activation MS had no way to check if the label code waas being used on the same machine or not.


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