My mother has a relatively new Dell notebook, but she did some rather stupid things with it. Nothing that I can't fix with enough time and effort, but I figure that reinstalling from scratch would yield a better result and probably take less time too. Besides, it's never a bad thing to reinstall Windows every few years anyway in my experience.
However, here's the problem: my parents never bothered to order/make recovery disks. I do have a Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade disk laying around though (upgrade disks contain the full OS, right?). However, the laptop itself came with Home Premium and as such, the activation key on it is also for HP.
So, can I just pop in the Ultimate disk, yet enter the HP code and end up with a regular HP edition? I vaguely remember that entering an Ulltimate code while installing from a Home Premium disk results in a full fat Ultimate, but does it work the other way round?
With the Dell laptops, Dell stores an image of the computer OS in a hidden partition, for just such situations. That way you will have the OS that came with the laptop freshly installed.
You didn't mention what model of laptop you have, but here are the steps from an Inspiron 1505.
To use PC Restore:
1 Turn on the computer.
During the boot process, a blue bar with www.dell.com appears at the top of the screen.
2 Immediately upon seeing the blue bar, press <Ctrl><F11>.
If you do not press <Ctrl><F11> in time, let the computer finish starting, and then restart the
This will lead you through the process of a fresh installation of the original Windows OS.
With OEM operating systems like the Win-7 Ultimate from an HP machine, the OS product code is tied to the MB and it will be registered as a Non Genuine copy.