This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows Vista.
Understanding different error messages
Windows Vista may display two very similar error messages that actually pertain to two very different issues.
If you need to activate Microsoft Office, you may see the first error message. However, if you have attempted to reinstall the operating system (OS) using the Windows Anytime Update disc, you may see the second message. This document will help you recognize which situation is at hand, and direct you in resolving the error message.
- Identifying Microsoft Office product activationIf you see a Microsoft Office product activation window, such as the one pictured below, the issue is with Microsoft Office, not with Windows Vista. Therefore, please see HP Notebook PCs - Microsoft Office Product Activation Problems for more information about Microsoft Office product activation.
- Identifying Windows Vista operating system activationIf you see a window, such as the Windows Vista OS activation message below, then the problem is not with Microsoft Office. You will need to activate Windows Vista itself by continuing with the instructions provided in this document.
Reasons why an HP or Compaq computer may need to be activated
Normally, activation in Windows operating systems is done automatically on HP and Compaq Desktop computers, but some conditions (turning off the computer during Windows set up, for example) can cause a Windows Activation message to appear. When this happens, Windows operating systems require activation or a system recovery.
If your notebook PC arrived from the factory with Windows Vista pre-installed on it (a System Locked Pre-installation, or SLP), the following conditions may cause the notebook PC to require activation through Microsoft:
- Replacing the motherboard with one that does not contain the other-equipment-manufacturer (OEM)-specific version of the BIOS.NOTE:If the computer has been recently returned from service where the motherboard has been replaced, please see Updating the BIOS .
- Doing a system recovery using f11 after recovering from HP Recovery Discs
- Installing certain device drivers and software
- Opening certain software
- Installing certain software
- Uninstalling certain software or files
- Updating the BIOS or installing a new BIOS flash from a company other than HP
- Breaking the end-user license agreement (EULA) by attempting to load SLP-enabled media onto a different PC
Updating the BIOS
If the computer has recently been returned from service, follow the steps below.
- Verify that the notebook PC was shipped with Microsoft Windows Vista.
- Verify the "Factory installed OS" option in the BIOS. To ensure that the latest BIOS is installed, follow the steps below.
- Click Start , type health , and select HP Health Check from the resulting list.
- Click Re-scan to scan the computer for common known problems and recommended actions.
- Click OK if prompted. Wait while HP Health Check scans the computer for an updated version of the BIOS.NOTE:When installing an updated version of the BIOS, always restart the computer before installing any device drivers.
- Check the "Factory installed OS" option in the BIOS. The results should be:
- "Vista" (the activation issue is not related to DMI) – If you receive this notification, continue with activating the Windows Operating System processes as defined below.
- "non Vista" or "Other" (the activation issue is related to DMI) – If you receive this notification, please contact HP to schedule a repair.
Open the Vista Operating System activation window
If you're prompted to activate Windows Vista, but you closed the message window, you can still get to the activation window—provided that you can still use the Windows Vista desktop. Please note that you must be within the 30-day period in which Microsoft allows you to activate Windows. If you choose not to activate Windows within the 30-day time period, but decide that you want to activate Windows after the activation period expires, online registration may not be available. If online registration is not available, please contact Microsoft via telephone for assistance.
To open the activation window, follow the steps below.
- Click Start , right-click Computer , and then select Properties to view the status of Windows Activation.
- Scroll down on the System Properties window to view the status information.
The status information resembles the Not activated image below and indicates how many days left, if any, remain before activation is required. Once you've successfully activated Windows Vista, the status message resembles the Activated image below.
The rest of this document can help you activate or recover your computer.
How to activate the Windows operating system
There are two ways to activate Windows Vista:
- Internet connection (broadband or dial-up connection)
- Automated phone system (voice)
NOTE:Please do not request a "new" activation code. If you do, Microsoft assumes that you want to purchase a new operating system. Your operating system does not need to be replaced, just reactivated.
The first method requires an internet connection and the last method requires a voice telephone to dial a toll-free number. The automated phone system may take several minutes due to the number of digits that need to be entered. Use the following steps to activate a computer when the Windows Product Activation message appears.
Activate the Windows operating system via the internet
Before starting, if you have a broadband internet connection, ensure that the network cable is connected to the computer. If you have a dial-up modem, ensure that a telephone line is connected to the modem connection on the computer—then follow the steps below to activate your Windows Vista operating system.
- From the Windows Activation window, click Type a different product key .
- Enter the product key number into the product key field and then click Next . This number can be found on a Certificate of Authenticity label adhered to the bottom of the notebook PC.
- Click Show me other ways to activate and then click Next .
- If a modem is not connected, skip this step.If a modem is connected, use the following sub-steps to activate over the modem:Make sure the telephone line is not in use. Click Use my modem to connect directly to the activation service , and then click Next .Click Click the nearest location , select the most appropriate country/region from the drop-down menu, and then click Next .NOTE: Do not click Activate Windows Online now .Connecting to the activation service is displayed and the modem dials a number automatically to activate.
If product activation was successful, a success screen is shown and Windows Vista setup continues.
If online product activation failed, the Activate Windows Now window opens.
If activating via the internet fails, try to activate the Windows operating system via telephone .
Activate the Windows operating system via telephone
If the Windows Vista operating system activation via the internet is unsuccessful for any reason (such as too many recent activations or loss of internet access), activate Windows via telephone.
To activate Windows via telephone, follow the steps below.
- Disconnect your PC from your internet connection.
- In the Activate Windows now window, click Show me other ways to activate , and then click Next .
- Select Use the automated phone system and then click Next .
- To find available telephone numbers for activation, select a location near you from the drop-down menu and then click Next .NOTE:Do not click Activate Windows Online now .
- Write down the installation IDs and confirmation IDs—then call the number provided in the Activate Windows Now window.
- Follow the instructions from the telephone system and write down the confirmation ID numbers.
- Enter the confirmation ID numbers into the fields A through H, in the same sequence as the telephone system provided them. When done, click Next .
If product activation was successful, the success screen pictured below appears, and Windows Vista setup continues.
If product activation is not successful, you are returned to a previous screen. You may try to activate via the internet , or you may attempt to perform a system recovery .
Activating Vista using System Recovery
A system recovery can be used as an alternative to online or telephone activation, if your notebook PC arrived from the factory with Windows Vista pre-installed on it (what is called a System Locked Pre-installation, or SLP).
To start a system recovery, turn on the computer and press the f11 key repeatedly after the first screens appear.
For computers sold in the United States that are being used for the first time, the system recovery process may take a little more than fifteen minutes. For computers sold in other countries/regions and for computers that experience the message after a recovery, system recovery may take longer than 45 minutes. For more information about system recovery, please see the HP Notebook PCs - Using HP Recovery Manager support document.
Activating Vista after recovering the OS
After performing a system recovery, or re-installing the Vista operating system, it should not be necessary to repeat the activation process. There are several different recovery situations to consider.
- If the PC shipped with Vista and the Recovery Manager is functional, then use the Recovery Manager to restore the notebook PC to its original image. Vista automatically activates.
- If the PC shipped with Vista but the Recovery Manager is not functional, use the Recovery disc to restore the PC to its original image. Vista automatically activates.
- If the PC shipped with XP and was upgraded to Vista with an 'upgrade version' of Vista, then recover the PC back to the XP operating system and upgrade to Vista. Vista automatically activates.
- If the PC shipped with XP, and it was upgraded to Vista with a 'full retail version' of Vista, then use the Microsoft DVD to re-install Vista. Vista automatically activates.
- If the PC shipped with Vista and the Recovery Manager is not functional, but you have not created the recovery discs, you can order a Windows Vista Recovery DVD. It may be necessary to contact Microsoft to activate Vista.NOTE:Windows Vista Recovery DVDs, shipped by HP prior to May 21, 2007 do not contain the automatic activation feature. Therefore, you will have to call Microsoft to manually activate Windows Vista within 30 days of the installation.
Windows Activation terms
The following terms are commonly used to describe elements of the Windows Vista operating system activation process.
- Windows Product Activation (WPA) - Requires a person to unlock the computer before using Windows.
- System Locked Pre-installation (SLP) - No personal intervention is normally required to activate Windows.
- End-User License Agreement (EULA) - The agreement that the user of Windows must accept in order to use the Windows product.
- Certificate of Authenticity (COA) - A proof of ownership identification method to help prove that a product is not counterfeit or copied. It can be in the form of a label that contains a bar code and product identification number.
- Installation Identification Number - An ID number generated based on the Certificate of Authenticity key entered during Windows setup.
- Confirmation Identification Number - A number that allows you to complete the activation process.
Microsoft Product Activation web site (in English)
Microsoft support article You may be prompted to activate Windows Vista on a computer on which Windows Vista activation was not previously required (in English).