Microsoft Does it Again – Craps All Over its Consumers

So much for the appointment of Satya Nadella ushering in a new era of conciliation. In a decision that belies belief, Microsoft has pulled all external links to Windows 7 ISO downloads and has now made the downloads available for ‘retail’ Windows users only.

Until quite recently, all Windows 7 users were able to download ISOs from various online sources, including all editions and SP1. Now, however, these download links are no longer working and instead, the user is being re-directed to a Microsoft page which includes a link to download direct:

ms redirect

Note the line: “If you have purchased your Microsoft Windows software from another source, but have the software key provided by Microsoft, you can download the Windows operating system from the following website:

All well and good. However, this applies to retail Windows users only, OEM product keys are NOT accepted – and that, my friends, eliminates the vast majority of Windows 7 users from the equation.

Let’s Look at the Numbers

win7 market share

Windows 7 currently accounts for more than 50% of all Windows users. Microsoft estimates that more then 1.5 billion people are currently using Windows, so that equates to Windows 7 user numbers in the hundreds of millions. Seeing how the vast majority of those users would be running OEM licensed operating systems, that’s a heck of a lot of users who will no longer be able to download a Windows 7 ISO.

I realize that, strictly under the terms of OEM licensing, the onus is on manufacturers to provide this kind of support, but really, what harm would it do to allow every Windows 7 user access to these downloads? A genuine product key is still required to download, validate and activate the operating system and, in the case of OEM licensing, installation on original (or identical) hardware remains a key element for activation.

All most users are looking for is an ISO as a backup plan, not to rip off Microsoft. As far as I am concerned, just when I thought Microsoft had finally seen the light, this decision comes as yet another kick in the pants for a whole swag of Windows users.


18 thoughts on “Microsoft Does it Again – Craps All Over its Consumers”

  1. Too many ways to download legit copies and get ill legit ways to license it.

    Purchase and you get a download link, if not ….. oh well.

  2. Do you think MS may be trying to close up the loose ends when it comes to OEM installations or just trying to force more consumers into the W8 fiasco. I sometime use my W7 CD to reinstall W7 on my friends PC’s that they have in some way broken but I will use the OEM product key for activation. Will this still work?

    1. I will use the OEM product key for activation. Will this still work?

      Sure it will Daniel, nothing has changed in that regard.

      OEM licensing has always been restrictive but, as far as I am concerned, installation media should be available for every Windows user, regardless.

  3. Hi Jim,

    Just for kicks, I went to this site and tried to use an OEM key to download a Windows 7 Home Premium ISO:

    The response was basically , “Too bad– your license requires you to get advice from the OEM.” Well, that sucks. A kind of circular rationale, isn’t it?

    Recently, I saw a post somewhere that showed how to get legal ISO downloads of many versions of Windows. It was all on the up and up and you needed an original, legitimate key to make it work.

    Unfortunately, I deleted said bookmark and will have to try to find it again. I still don’t know if the OEM licenses will work at any of them– if they still exist, that is…

    Sad days,

    1. Hey Richard – What I can’t fathom here is the rationale, or motivation. I can’t see what MS stands to gain from this decision, except maybe a lot of p*ssed off users.

      1. Hi Jim,

        I agree.
        It makes no sense to make the ISO so difficult to attain when a valid key is ultimately necessary to make it work. The ISOs are quite worthless without the proper keys.

        To my way of thinking, forcing people to jump through needless hoops is not good public relations.

        I would say make the ISOs easily available, then count on the license keys to activate the products according to their individual “level”.


  4. Quite frankly I don’t understand all this concern about Windows 7. How much life or support does this product have? Did we not face conversations when XP was expiring? YES, I was holding onto XP almost till the bitter end, but like Dave said (not exactly) time to move on. Operating Systems require us to fork over more money, as do other software. We life in a world where we want privacy and security and must be willing to pay that price or get left behind (easy pray for hackers). If the price for using the Internet (outside the cost to the provider) was too high, we’d see less traffic.

    I’m sure we are grateful to Jim (and others) who have shown us alternative Freeware programs. But nothing is FREE for live. I’d rather pay a little each year to be fully up to date, than purchase something that has a limited life at full price. Would you rather not have a new car each year for a smaller amount, than purchase it today fully, and get maybe 10 years of life?

    I used to think the other way, but realized that there are ways to still have what you want, while keeping up with progress, Mindblower!

  5. I did the same as Richard but I entered a retail key and sure enough it took me to the W7 Home Premium ISO download. I am sure that ISO will be tied to my product key. I’m not really sure why an ISO is needed without a good product key for activation. I wil bet this is due more to pirating than for users who have a legal copy of W7.

    1. Once again, dandl! đŸ™‚

      The only reason I can think of to get an ISO would be to make a backup of the original operating system. Of course, the license key will eventually be needed to activate the system. Without that, you might be able to run it for 30 days or so…

      It is interesting that your retail code worked, whereas, my OEM code did not. This directly points to the argument Jim makes in his article.

      I can understand why MS does not want to give full credence to OEM licenses. For one, they are less expensive– by half in many cases. If OEM licenses carried the same weight as a retail license, everybody and his cousin would be getting them to side-step the price while getting full benefits. Based on the stated license terms, this is a no-no.

      Expect no MS support for an OEM license. I have personally experienced this frustrating situation while pleading with a stubborn MS tech guy. He kept telling me to go to the OEM– he would not give me further assistance. He would not budge.
      (Since I was the OEM according to the license, he was effectively telling me to seek me for the answer to my question.)
      I was angry to the point of tears until I finally understood his position. It took a while, but the bulb finally lit up.

      OEM licenses are intended to be used by system builders who are willing to take on the support responsibility. I’m sure, in Microsoft’s eyes, this includes backups and original copies (ie, ISOs).

      As frustrating as this situation may appear on the surface, it makes perfect sense to me when viewed from Microsoft’s perspective,

      1. If OEM licenses carried the same weight as a retail license, everybody and his cousin would be getting them

        The limitation in OEM licensing is inherent in that new installations are restricted to original (or identical) hardware whereas retail licenses can be transferred from one machine to another.

        Disallowing ISO downloads for OEM licensed OSs doesn’t alter that differential, although it does tend to broaden the gap.

  6. I do believe the system builder or the PC’s manufacture should be responsible for supplying the system disc for reinstalling whatever OS that is installed. For once I will have to support MS. If one wants “Freeware” then move to Linux and I wonder how much longer it will remain “free”.

  7. Can you still buy keys from many of these sites that sell them as genuine keys and yet get the iso download. These keys are cheap and the merchant provides an iso download site for you to use.

  8. Yet another reason to cultivate a great network of friends. Typically, one of those trusty friends just might have a retail DVD they’ll loan you from which you can create that ISO file you need.

    I recently found a need for a Windows7Pro disk when I “reset” one of my Windows8Pro PCs the other day. I wanted to “virginize” it so I could sell it, but once I did, I was unable to activate it. After getting dropped by tech support 3 times, I sat down and figured it out for myself. It appears that the reason I was having trouble was that I upgraded to Win8Pro from Win7Pro and it couldn’t activate it, because you can’t use an “upgrade” for a clean install (Go figure, I did a reset, not a clean install). Anyway, good thing I had a Win7Pro DVD. Installed Win7Pro — didn’t bother w/activation or installing any updates — and then upgraded it to Win8Pro. Once done, it activated just fine. It even let me put Media Center back on as well as update to 8.1, even if it did take me an entire day to start over from scratch. So much for a simple reset. I’m beginning to wonder if Microsoft is conspiring with the ISPs to make us use more bandwidth downloading massive numbers of updates, one after another, after another.

  9. I purchased my Windows 7 with service pack 1 from NewEgg. I bought the OEM version for about$60. Both NewEgg and Microsoft informed me that Microsoft was NOT responsible for getting an OEM system working. NewEgg informed me before the purchase and Microsoft after with the labeling on the package.

    That is why Microsoft will NOT give you an ISO now, even though they did in the past. They didn’t have to. They were being nice.

  10. All this crap that MS is doing to legit Win 7 users makes Linux look easier to work with…and for free. RoboLinux will even run Win 7 programs I read.

  11. I remember when the operating system disk came with the purchase of a new system. One thing which has aggravated me since they stopped. The computer is worthless without the operating system and many repairs require the disks to work. Buying a system without the disks for the operating system, to me, is equivalent to buying a system without a hard drive, except hard drives are cheaper. I am slowly switching my machines to linux for this very reason (that and windows8).

  12. Yea I just had to replace my crashed hard drive with an ssd and I tried to find a legitimate iso download and couldnt so had to resort to downloading a pirated version and then putting in the oem key because trying to contact a manufacturer about something so stupid is tome consuming

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