I need to install Windows 7 on multiple computers (over 20), overwriting the original install with a customized one with added software.
I would use a boot time imaging software to simply load the image but I am concerned about the license key for each computer.
Could I update the cloned license information with the license I copied from each computer beforehand? Either by getting it from the documentation that came with the computer or by using a software tool to extract the key from the Windows 7 install that was originally on the computer before I overwrite it with the clone image.
You don't have to enter your CD key when prompted to do so during install. Simply click next, configure all your settings, then make your image. Each computer will prompt for the CD key before allowing you to activate.
set one pc up like you want them all to be set up, then sysprep it using the generlize option (this makes it hardware independant) . (also win 7 can only be syspreped 3 times unlike vista xp ect.)
Ghost the image or use a third party imaging software.
load the image on the new pc's
i have found that with oem installs like lenovo and dell when you reload the image has problems (bsod), but the work around is to download an oem verision of win7 from technet and use that one.
as for pulling keys, i dont feel comfortable sharing that info, not sure if it violates tom's tos, but you can google it and find a few options i am sure.
Did you used the MFG OEM install as the base before installing software? HP uses a special OEM key (not the one on the machine) so you should be OK if all the hardware is identical. Windows should already be activated after imaging. You can use the SLMGR command to deactivate windows and use the key from the MS sticker if you have problems.