Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Unlock ‘One Disc Mode’ for Windows Vista/7 installation DVDs

Thanks to Ryan Smith from Anandtech.com for this info! Ryan deserves full credit for this!

Every computer that has Windows Vista or Windows 7 pre-installed comes with an installation DVD (or provide a way to burn the installation DVD in case you need to re-install Windows). By default, when you boot a computer with the Windows Vista or Windows 7 installation DVD you must define the edition that you purchased (Ultimate, Basic, Professional, etc.) and then continue with the installation process. This is called “One disc mode” where all editions of Windows are available when going through the installation process. However, some Windows installation DVDs don’t provide this option any longer. It is locked down to certain editions of Windows that was provided with the computer, or the edition that you purchased when you downloaded the ISO, or locked down to the edition downloaded from Technet. While this is fine for most people, I am a PC tech. I hate having to haul a CD binder full of several different Windows DVDs or CDs to a customer because I don’t know what edition of Windows I may need to do a re-install.

The lock is due to a file that resides in the Vista or Win7 installation media in this file location:
<DVDDrive>:\Sources\ei.cfg

Opening this EI.CFG file in notepad will show you text something like this:
[EditionID]
Ultimate
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

In this example, the Windows installation media that I pulled this from is locked down to Windows Ultimate Edition (the retail version). To reinstate one disc mode, delete the EI.CFG file and you will be good to go! But wait, you can’t delete a file on an already burned DVD… my oh my, what to do?

Option 1) Use ImgBurn or PowerISO to copy the DVD to an ISO file on your computer. Then, using PowerISO or UltraISO, locate the EI.CFG file and delete it from the ISO image. Then re-burn the DVD ISO and test out the new image on a computer.

Option 2) Create a bootable USB drive (you will need a 4GB drive), copy the contents of the Windows Vista or Win7 installation DVD to the USB drive, then locate and delete the EI.CFG file. Instructions on how to create a bootable USB drive to install Windows Vista or Windows 7 is here.