How to install Windows 7 without entering your product key.

Technical Level : Intermediate


This article shows you how to install Windows 7 without having to enter the product key during setup.


If you need to diagnose a problem with a computer or facilitate the installation of another version of Windows on a computer, doing what is known as a keyless installation make this possible. The process involves not entering your product key during the Out of Box Experience portion of setup. This is the part where you complete task such as setting up your account name, join a wireless network, password and set your time zone.

The article discusses how to do a keyless installation for Windows 7 by doing a clean install, this also works if you are starting the installation from within a running installation of Windows.

After inserting the Windows 7 disc/USB stick, restart your computer and boot from the DVD.

To learn how to change your BIOS options to boot from the DVD drive, see the following tutorial:

How to boot from a USB stick:

When the computer starts, you will be prompted to boot from the Windows 7 DVD, click any key to do so. Windows 7 will load files on your hard disk to assist with the installation.

We have now arrived at the Setup screen, here you will select your Language if the option is available, time and currency and keyboard. After doing this, click Next.

To begin the installation, click Install Now

Accept the End User License Agreement then click Next

Click the Custom (advanced) option, we will be configuring the hard disk.

Select the partition on which Windows 7 will be installed, then click Drive options (advanced)

If there is more than one drive listed, it likely means, one is a Recovery partition and the other is the System Partition. Avoid formatting or deleting the Recovery partition, select the system partition where Windows 7 is installed and click Format.

You will be warned that all data on the drive will be destroyed. Again, make sure all your files, settings are backed up. Make sure you have downloaded all necessary drivers, have all application disks near by. If you are unsure, click cancel, and then click Next. This will do is create a Windows.old folder with the previous installation still intact so you can recover any missing files.

Skip entering your Product Key:

This is the message you will receive when you attempt to enter a product key for a Upgrade version of Windows 7. The simple workaround is to skip entering your product key for the time being and click Next. Complete task such as setting up your account name, password, time zone etcetera.

By doing this, you can run Windows 7 normally for 30 days before requiring product activation. This is great for testing and confirming any problems you might experience before committing to the installation full time. If you determine you would like to keep the installation, you can simply update the product key by entering it.

Here is how you do that:

Click Start, right click Computer

Click Properties

Scroll down to Windows activation.

You will notice it displays a time until Activation but be completed. Also the Product ID indicates it is using a default key, this is only for the 30 day grace period allowed until you must activate Windows 7.

Click the link, Change product key

Enter the product key

Proceed to enter the product key and click Next

Wait while Windows attempts to activate.

If all goes well, within a minute, you should see this screen.

You can further confirm Windows 7 is activated by checking the Windows Activation status:


Forum Article Info

Last updated October 17, 2018 Views 21,961 Applies to:
I've performed a Windows 7 64-bit install on my new barebones PC using Digital River ISO image. Is there currently a way to pay for and buy a product key from Microsoft? When I poked around the Windows Store, it was only Windows 8 all over the place. Thanks!
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