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Trick Lets Windows 7 to Run 120 Days for Free

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 42 comments

Rearming your Windows 7 will let it run freely for 120 days without activation. Neato!

In order for Microsoft to verify legitimate versions of Windows 7, users must activate their copies of the operating system within a finite time limit. On first inspection, that time limit appears to be 30 days, but as was the case with Windows Vista, there is a way to stretch that limit to nearly four months.

Like Windows Vista, the upcoming Windows 7 comes with a command line utility called the Software License Manager (slmgr.exe) that allows the user to issue "-rearm" switch that will reset the countdown timer back to 30 days. This command may be issued a maximum of three times. If a user issues this command at the end of each 30-day period for three times, he or she would be able to use Windows 7 unrestricted for up to 120 days.

The procedure to reset the countdown is identical to the process used for Windows Vista:

  1. Start the command line by clicking Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt (Run As Administrator) – or for a shortcut, hit the Windows Key + R and type "cmd".
  2. At the command line, enter in "slmgr –rearm" without the quotations.
  3. Restart Windows 7.

After the reboot, your counter will have reset back the 30 days.

Microsoft confirmed to Computerworld that this trick does indeed work. "This means [that] a total of 120 days total time is available as a grace period to customers that take advantage of -rearm," said a company spokeswoman.

Interestingly enough, the Microsoft representative said that extending the activation grace period using the slmgr is not a violation of the EULA.

This could be the perfect way to install and run your RTM disc of Windows 7 right now and stave off activation until you receive your licensed product key on October 22. Be careful to only install the edition that you intend to purchase, which could involve modifying the disc image. (Read more about this procedure at Windows Secrets.)

Of course, if you run this rearm process before your 30 days are up, you'll get fewer than your 120 days maximum. It'll be best to mark it on your calendar and set a reminder.

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  • 4 Hide
    tsiberious , August 21, 2009 12:04 AM
    Heck, I wipe my os about 2 times a year anyway. This might have been a mistake for them :) 
  • 2 Hide
    zerapio , August 21, 2009 12:32 AM
    Wow, I reinstall once every 3 or 4. I'm in my 3rd year on my current rig and it still runs great.
  • -5 Hide
    apache_lives , August 21, 2009 12:48 AM
    Old News THG
  • 3 Hide
    bertschkid , August 21, 2009 1:18 AM
    I used to wipe about 4 times a year just because I like the feeling of a fresh windows install. However, now I use my computer a lot for business and I haven't reinstalled windows since I got Vista in August of last year.

    However, I will probably get Windows 7 so will wipe everything in October.
  • 3 Hide
    nachowarrior , August 21, 2009 1:41 AM
    dashipIf you wipe that much you need to learn a little bit about a computer.

    if you're running x64 with a lot of 32 bit programs it tends to fragment the crap out of your hdd. So W&RL is required. Try all the defrag programs you want, try as you might they still don't work nearly as well as a fresh install. win xp x64 you're looking at 27% or more fragmentation after defrag. A fresh install is also great because you can install all of the latest and greatest dri\/ers without worrying weather they were remo\/ed properly or not. Just makes sense on a windows machine. Linux kernels howe\/er are a different story.

    I generally do 6 months or so anyway, keep all my install files updated and on a separate hdd. Works out fine for me.
  • -4 Hide
    Boxa786 , August 21, 2009 1:43 AM
    Awesome, so they are telling us, and the general public how to avoid activation.

    Sounds like a great way to bring in more consumers to use legit copies. Use this for 4 months then wipe your HD and start this all over again.
  • 2 Hide
    Sicundercover , August 21, 2009 1:45 AM
    People Rearming has been around since XP; this is nothing new.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 21, 2009 1:50 AM
    Meh, I reinstall more than once a month anyway so whatever.

    No, I don't have to do that but keeping a minimal OS-install means it's the most efficient way to keep a clean install for half an hour's worth of work.
  • -4 Hide
    nitto555rchallenger , August 21, 2009 3:23 AM
    Boxa786Awesome, so they are telling us, and the general public how to avoid activation.Sounds like a great way to bring in more consumers to use legit copies. Use this for 4 months then wipe your HD and start this all over again.

    No, after March 1, 2010 all PC's with Windows 7 RC installed will begin to automatically shutdowns every 2 hours whether its user instructed or not. This will happen till June 1 2010, when it will fully expire, so its best to either move on to Windows 7 or downgrade to Vista or XP before this time, because you'll be locked out completely. I say move on to 7 or go back to XP.
  • 7 Hide
    daship , August 21, 2009 3:43 AM
    We are talking RTM not RC. Learn to read.
  • 4 Hide
    nitto555rchallenger , August 21, 2009 4:27 AM
    dashipWe are talking RTM not RC. Learn to read.

    haha, your right you got me. Today was the last day to download the RC that's why that was in my head. Thanks on that Daship.
  • 0 Hide
    Major7up , August 21, 2009 4:30 AM
    zerapioWow, I reinstall once every 3 or 4. I'm in my 3rd year on my current rig and it still runs great.

    Geez, I don't feel so bad. I re-install about 3-4 times per year but from a disk image I created.
  • 5 Hide
    daship , August 21, 2009 5:26 AM
    All you that reinstall 4 times a year really need to learn how to set up your system.

    Lay off the porn a little or something.
  • 3 Hide
    cancer2 , August 21, 2009 5:28 AM
    To maximize the time up to 120 day best is to set up a Scheduled task, very easy. In this way you can rest assured that you will benefit from the maximum number of days without an activation code.
    Hard to believe that Microsoft gives "for free", to users such a "treat".
  • -4 Hide
    sdaemon , August 21, 2009 6:27 AM
    Is this news? Come on! This is around since Vista.
  • -1 Hide
    doomtomb , August 21, 2009 6:38 AM
    Old news
  • 2 Hide
    apache_lives , August 21, 2009 7:27 AM
    dashipAll you that reinstall 4 times a year really need to learn how to set up your system.Lay off the porn a little or something.


    While not so often, it does keep that fresh feeling going, and being a power user it definitely helps, and being head tech at work and making custom installs discs the install process only takes under an hour to get from nothing to a fully activated install with software and drivers - well worth the time.

    Also if you are clever enough (may not support all users) you can get away with no 3rd party firewall or antivirus by avoiding the bad things etc - too easy for some, and gives you more performance (or should i say doesnt take any resources etc).
  • -1 Hide
    secolliyn , August 21, 2009 9:42 AM
    Alright so this is what you do get your system up and running put all the programs you and and everything set up load G-parted and shrink that partition then copy that partition to a slightly larger partition then hide it from the OS if you can do this in a few days then do the extended period of evaluation and your good for120 days at the end of those 120 days take anything off you've got that wasn't backed up and load in G-parted and delete the 120 day old install and re copy the 1 day old copy still from the hidden partition all your programs are set up all your links are there all your passwords saved anything you've set up done and then you can update it what i do is i do that about once every 2-3 months and i clean my primary drive off of everything i don't need and back it up with g-parted to the hidden partition drivers are installed programs work the same everything is nice and where it needs to be so why wouldn't it work here?
  • 4 Hide
    apache_lives , August 21, 2009 10:54 AM
    nachowarriorif you're running x64 with a lot of 32 bit programs it tends to fragment the crap out of your hdd. So W&RL is required. Try all the defrag programs you want, try as you might they still don't work nearly as well as a fresh install. win xp x64 you're looking at 27% or more fragmentation after defrag. A fresh install is also great because you can install all of the latest and greatest dri\/ers without worrying weather they were remo\/ed properly or not. Just makes sense on a windows machine. Linux kernels howe\/er are a different story. I generally do 6 months or so anyway, keep all my install files updated and on a separate hdd. Works out fine for me.


    Dude, are you missing your V key?
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