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I recently imaged the hard drive in my computer to a new SSD drive hoping to be able to quickly and easily swap the original drive with the new SSD drive. When I booted to Windows after installing the newly imaged drive I noticed that Windows displayed a message in the lower right hand corner of the desktop that said:

"This copy of Windows is not genuine".

Windows Explorer did not appear, and it appeared that I couldn't actually do anything with the computer.

The question is, how can you avoid this message after imaging a drive (rather than having to re-install Windows and all other applications on the new drive)?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm posting the steps I used to solve this issue in case anyone else runs into this issue. This may not be the only or best way to solve this issue, but these steps worked for me.

  1. Boot into Safe Mode
  2. Ctrl+Alt+Del
  3. Start Task Manager
  4. New Task --> regedit.exe
  5. Locate the following registry key
  6. Find the drive letter you want to change to (usually your C drive). Look for \DosDevices\C:
  7. Right-click \DosDevices\C: and click Rename
  8. Rename it to an unused drive letter e.g. "\DosDevices\Z:"
    • This will free up drive letter C
  9. Find the drive letter you want changed. In my case it was "\DosDevices\F:"
  10. Right-click on the drive letter and select Rename.
  11. Rename the drive to the appropriate letter (e.g. "\DosDevices\C:")
  12. Exit Regedit and restart the computer.
  13. You may be prompted to reactivate Windows.
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your question does not ask anything about changing drive letters – JamesRyan Jul 15 '10 at 14:30
You can do the same without manually going into regedit: go to Disk Management and rename the volumes there. – Abel Jul 15 '10 at 15:04
Unfortunately in this instance I didn't have access to Disk Management. In fact, Windows Explorer wasn't even available. – Tim Lentine Jul 15 '10 at 16:19
@JamesRyan: Correct. The issue was Windows thought that it was not Genuine even though it was. This was (I believe) a result of the imaging process. Re-associating the new drive as "C" (where the OS was installed to) corrected the issue, but changing the drive letter wasn't the question, it was the answer to the problem. – Tim Lentine Jul 15 '10 at 16:21

I also cloned by with dd using ubuntu and hit the same problem. To avoid all the above.

  1. first boot with just the new hdd plugged in where the old one was (so bios prioritizes it). Check all is well.
  2. plug the old hdd into another slot, wipe it in ubuntu or whatever. When doing this maybe unplug the new hdd for safety
  3. plug new hdd back into original slot again and boot with both

And to answer the actual question

  1. Ignore the "Your windows in not genuine" dialogue it will only prompt you to buy a new copy - useless
  2. Windows key + pause break choose enter product code or simply type Activate Windows into start bar
  3. enter your original OEM product key and you are done
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