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HP Recommended
HP 8300 Compaq Elite CMT (Convertible Mini Tower)
Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit)



I've read many similar posts, but haven't found a solution for my exact situation, as follows:


I have a 'business' HP 8300 CMT (but for my personal home use) still running Win7 Pro because I have several reasons I still need WinXP (so have been running XP Mode in a VMware VM on this Win 7 host)... With Win7 nearing Microsoft EOL in Jan 2020, I hoped to migrate to Linux (perhaps running old Windows apps in a VM or under WINE...) but unable to obtain drivers I need for specialized RME Audio hardware... so as a short-term solution, now planning to dual boot Win7 Pro and Win10 Pro (disconnecting Win7 from the Internet but using occasionally for things I can't do in Win10 due to driver issues, etc.).


Here's my dilemma... My Win7 will 'activate' if I install using the original CDs (which formats the hd as MBR).  I can then shrink the volume and install Win10P, which also activates - all activations digital from the product key, etc embedded in the motherboard.  However, even though this HP 8300 CMT appears (?) to support GPT boot disk, when I've tried third party applications (such as Active Partition Manager) to change disk 0 from MBR to GPT (and then change computer settings to disable Legacy Boot and ensure Secure Boot is DISABLED, in desire to dual boot to the GPT boot disk, the HP becomes a brick... no POST, no access to BIOS, will not boot from factory CD, or any USBs I have formatted as GPT or MBR.  The only way I've been able to recover from this was to remove the CMOS battery... wait a few minutes... and then boot from factory CD and reinstall Win7 from scratch.


One option I tried... I downloaded a win7 iso and formatted on USB as GPT... then wiped my boot disk and formatted it as GPT... then installed Win7 Pro to the GPT disk... and installed Win10 Pro to the GPT disk... BUT when doing this, although Win10 Pro activates (digitally), Win7 will NOT activate without me knowing the actual Windows Product Key (which I don't know b/c HP won't give it and it's embedded on the motherboard).  I tried some third party tools to retrieve the key and activate using the key, but MS says the key provided by the third party software retrieved from the HP motherboard is invalid.

So... given that my desire is to have Win7P activated and Win10P activated in a multi boot scenario with GPT formatted HD (so I can add more primary partitions to add at least a third boot option for a Linux distribution), is there any way? 

My questions....

Why if I change HD MBT to GPT and also change BIOs to disable legacy boot, does the computer completely freeze, no longer allowing me to access BIOS or even attempt to boot from CD or USB?

I assume my Win7P will activate if installed from factory disks but will NOT if I install a downloaded Win7P iso because Microsoft detects too many 'differences' in hardware from the factory config?

Is there a reliable way (even third party commercial software) that will accomplish my goal of converting my boot disk from MBR to GPT without the issues I see when using the free "Active Partition Manager"?


Any thoughts or suggestions will be appreciated.





P.S. For those that will likely tell me I shouldn't need WinXP or WIn7, some of the reasons... I have a thermal CD printer from Rimage that ONLY has drivers for WinXP... I have aging pro audio software, but that I still like - e.g., Steinberg Wavelab and Steinberg Cubase) for which my license requires WinXP... RME audio hardware (Hammerfall DSP Multiface II) runs under Windows, including Win10, but no drivers officially supported on Linux... and more.

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One additional question I forgot in my original post...


Why does the computer behave so differently in these two scenarios?

1. Win7 and Win10 installed in dual boot on MBR (works properly with both Win7 and Win10 activated)... but after attempting boot disk MBR to GPT conversion and changing related BIOs settings, becomes a brick...

2. Win7 and Win10 installed in dual boot on GPT (works properly but Win7 NOT activated)... no brick issues.

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you can not change a dualboot MBR into a dualboot GPT without modifying several settings which is beyond the scope of this forum


your OEM win 7 has the necessary activation files included to allow self activation, and any retail or other vender OEM win 7 can be made into a HP ( or  any other) OEM disk or if a OEM, back into a retail disk by simply modifying or adding the necessary cert files and the windows PID (google is your friend here)


windows 7 has a XP emulator that was released by microsoft and is free to download


the HP  (or any other OEM) win 7 disk will not self activate under vmware, this is by design, and the quickest solution is to use a retail copy of win 7 w/valid key


323bit XP printer drivers can sometimes be forced to install under win 7  32bit OS (but not 64 bit Os)


last, a working retail windows 7 disk/key can be bought on ebay quite cheaply


if you list the exact model printer you have,.......... other options might be possible

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Thank you for your reply.  I will come back and read closely tonight when I get off work.


One follow-up question for now... you mentioned "you can not change a dualboot MBR into a dualboot GPT without modifying several settings which is beyond the scope of this forum"... but I also had the same 'brick' issue when I tried to convert a single Win7Pro installation from MBR to GPT.  Do you know if this fails for the same reason, i.e., several setting changes required that I likely didn't know to make?


The printer I mentioned is a Rimage Prism Plus!, a thermal imaging CD printer.  Rimage did not provide drivers after Win XP.

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yes the same problem happens either way with MBR/GPT as each uses different methods of  storing values used to boot a drive


while i do not see your model printer listed on their website, have you actually asked them if the current rimage suite 9.1 has support for the basic feature set of your prism printer model all their website says is that 9.1 does not support XP you may find that it does have some support for your model, but they no longer test for it








i just tried the driver from the listed link, and as i suspected it's a 32bit only driver so i would run a copy of 32bit XP under either windows 7, or windows 10



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Thank you again for your reply and thoughts.  You've given me several ideas to consider and investigate.


My initial thought is that the simplest way to achieve what I want short term is to buy another Win7 Pro license, reformat my HD as GPT and install my desired multi boot (initially dual boot Win7P and Win10P), with the option to then add additional partitions for Linux, etc.


I need to research more about your comment that converting MBR to GPT won't work, since I see several commercial software programs claiming to be able to do exactly that - i.e., convert MBR to GPT without data loss (and without having to reformat the disk and reinstall the O/S).  I do understand a bit about the differences in how MBR and GPT store boor records and such on disk (MBR at the beginning, GPT in different places, etc.) but it seems technically possible that such commercial software could easily rearrange boot records.  But... as above, simplest is probably for me to just reformat as GPT and do fresh installs... solving my W7P activation issue by just buying another license.  (Of course, none of this would be a question if I could easily access the windows product key I already own, but MS required HP to bury this in the motherboard.)


As for Rimage printer drivers, I would have to dig through email from several years ago to find the exact explanation from Rimage why they don't support anything later than Win XP... seems like they said it was related to the way Windows does "Plug and Play"... but I don't remember their exact reasoning.


Anyway... thanks again for your time and comments.

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