Never hurts to ask. Worst they can do is say no & I have seen companies in the past issue upgrades to customers who couldn't get the current release to work. If his BIOS allows activation of an OEM Win 7 copy like he says then his machine can't be that old.
my laptop is only a couple of months old. I'm not 100% sure that it will activate an oem 7. The bios upgrade just said it would, but since it won't activate vista, I don't know if it would work with 7... though I don't know jack about oem activation.
On a side note, I installed vista with a plain old vista oem disk that my brother got from his work's action pack (but used the key on my laptop, not the key from the action pack). It wouldn't activate over the internet, but after calling MS twice, I got it activated over the phone. (the first time I called, the guy said something about not being able to help me at the time and to call back in 15 min. But I called back right after hanging up, and got vista activated with no problems... other than barely being able to understand his accent)
So that I don't have to go through all this mess again, I made an image of my drive with acronis after it was all set up and activated.