Thursday, 10 July 2014

Licencing and Windows 8 and 8.1 and restores and rebuilds

The Lamas HQ devices are a mix of Windows 7, Android and Pi. 

I know... but we did not fancy Windows 8 without touchscreen and in his "other" life the Network Manager uses Windows 7.  But this is just our opinion and our choice. 
Possibly there will be an addition to the pack, by way of an Ubuntu facility

Recently I have been asked to rebuild a Windows 8(.1?) laptop.

Now this Laptop was likely to have Windows 8 preinstalled at the beginning and upgraded to Win8.1 and then it seemingly downgraded to a failed HDD.  (insert Wah Wah Wah Wah, trombone here)

The items that were handed to me were a semi dead, out of warantee laptop, power cable and user password info.  I checked on the warrantee status very early in the process.  No reinstallation or backup or restore media and no trace of a Windows COA was to be found.

I have learned A LOT about windows 8 licensing. That includes laptops that are purchased with it preinstalled:
  • it is activated in a completely different, new and "improved" way (improved for whom, I wonder?)
  • COA does not appear anywhere on the box, the laptop itself or the battery compartment.  It is coded into the BIOS
  • Windows 8 cannot be legally downloaded (for this manufacturer,) in the same way as the retail version, if the laptop came with it preinstalled, even using the COA, prised out of the BIOS (using a linux command that I think Hermione Granger would have been proud of!) and from the manufacturer I quote "Unfortunately we can not provide any Windows 8/8.1 recovery media."
  • Windows 8 - you can create optical media to restore/reinstall/save your ass by DVD.  Windows 8.1 has to be done on a flash drive and will not accept optical (DVD)  This I learned from flailing about another clients laptop, who I know has Windows 8.1 (I did the upgrade myself) and knowing she did not have the media to recover the laptop in the event it all went horribly wrong.  Windows 8 gives the option for a DVD or flash drive.  Windows 8.1 only provides the option from a flash drive. BTDT.  
I am sure there is more I should know, but it does seem to be a huge and quite intricate subject.
My opinions/feelings about windows 8 and 8.1 have not improved learning about all of this.

By best advice to anyone purchasing a laptop with Windows 8, of any version, preinstalled is this...
  • Create an appropriate & comprehensive backup media and keep it somewhere safe and accessible.  There are many online tutorials to be found on the web, the manufacturers site is usually a good place to start.
  • Use Belarc Advisor - print out your results.  This will show you the relevant COA 25 digit code and keep it somewhere safe and accessible..
  • get an external drive and clone the whole hard disk drive.  There are some manufacturers that provide cloning software for their own brand.  Western Digital is one of these, they provide a cut down version of Acronis True Image. Keep the backup safe and somewhere accessible.
  • Don't drop your laptop
Currently, the laptop is in the workshop with my last hope, Obi-Wan-Ubuntu, doing a byte by byte copy from the damaged HDD to a new one. I may be sometime....

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