back to article Academics gripe about Windows 7 promo collapse

Some UK-based university staff and students who stumped up £30 for Microsoft’s Windows 7 academic offer have complained that the software download supplied by Digital River isn’t working for them. A number of readers have contacted The Register grumbling that they’re unable to download the operating system. The firm sent out …


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  1. Yautja_Cetanu
    Thumb Up

    All's awesome!


    I went for that deal and everything worked perfectly for me. :)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worked for me thisw morning

    But then I'm not technically a student so I was up before noon!

  3. Ryan 7

    Well they're clearly not using the latest software!

    They should get that new Windows 7 and then try the download - it's much more stable!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good news!

    Hopefully this will reduce the number of smug "well I'm only paying £30 for my copy" messages that are inundating UK windows forums at the moment.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Just bit torrent the full DVD and stick in the key you were emailed.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just a download failure either...

    Oh no, it's a lot worse than that. There's also bugs and install problems.

    I just got my copy.

    It's completely useless to me though, digital river did not provide the .iso file which is required to make a clean install.

    Microsoft has a nice little tool to make either a bootable flash drive or dvd here: .. but it needs that .iso file.

    Instead of "click here to download the exe or iso" links, digital river has provided it's own download manager.

    This download manager doesn't work for some people or crashes halfway through and won't let them restart.

    Luckily this didn't happen to me.

    If the download is successful, that's not the end of your worries... 2 .box files and the digitalriver software used to extract them end up on your desktop.

    And.. guess what? Yep, the extraction software doesn't work either. :)

    for some incredibly bizzare reason the software creates a new user account which does not have read or write permissions and creates the folder as part of that new user account's space.

    Then, an error box comes up which says "you do not have permission to read or write to this folder", with no way of fixing it.. I tried fiddling with the 7 different submenus you have to go through to modify user account permission for specific folders in vista.. still didn't work.

    However, I did extract a bunch of files before it crashed on me. I have no idea whether that's all of them or not.

    Assuming that it's all there, the upgrade is 64-bit and cannot be run directly from a 32-bit system... which is fine, but as I mentioned above, the alternative option of burning it to disc or flash drive is not available.. digital river claimed it would be before the launch and it isn't.

    This is the most bodged-up operating system release I've ever seen... the only people who have successfully managed to install it are the ones doing an in-place upgrade from exactly the same version of vista.

    There are working solutions out there which involve the command line and attaching custom .bif files and creating an .iso using some of the files extracted from the .box files.. assuming you were lucky enough not to have the extractor crash.

    I'm technically capable of doing that, but really, really can't be arsed when this whole debacle should have been simple as "here is your .iso file, here is your CD key, enjoy!"

  7. Eddie Fan
    Thumb Up

    No problems for me...

    Maybe I was lucky enough to download it this morning before the servers started getting pounded?

    Bought it and downloaded within the hour, now it's installing nicely on the PC downstairs!

  8. Richard 81
    Thumb Up

    Well hallo!

    And to think this would have gone completely unnoticed by me, were it not for this problem and article reporting it. Knowing my luck the offer would be over before I had any clue it was available.

    Cheers muchly El Reg.

  9. OffBeatMammal


    have they tried using IE? ;)

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Not that easy...

    Matthew 13: That doesn't work, or so I'm told, as the key is tied to a specific variant of the download (although I haven't tried with Win7 it was certainly true with Office 2007).

    You need to build a bootable ISO but apparently it is upgrade ONLY and refuses to accept the Key if it is installed on a a blank HD. Irony is, if you do install over something like XP it copies everything from the former installation into a folder you can then simply delete, no settings are copied anyway!

    Still, for £30 a little bit extra work isn't too bad but it's certainly not acceptable to those who aren't tech geeks and wanted a simple upgrade.

  11. Bassey

    I can't download the f*cking thing!

    Hmm, seems more 'agricultural' than academic.

  12. Ojustaboo
    Big Brother

    I got it fine

    Pro edition for £30, no complaints from me. Just glad my daughters at Uni :)

    Doesn't download as an iso though, comes as 3 files which once you run, creates one "expandedSetup" folder.

    You then have to download and install the free MS Windows Automation Install Kit and use the "Deployment Tools Command Prompt" followed by

    oscdimg -bC:\Users\USERNAME\Desktop\expandedSetup\boot\ -h -u2 -m -lWIN_EN_DVD C:\Users\USERNAME\Desktop\expandedSetup\ C:\Users\USERNAME\Desktop\windows7.iso

    then finally burn your iso.

    A bit of hassle, not too much (probably annoy a fair few students though) but at that price, I'm more than happy.

  13. Patrick Weber

    download went fine for me !

    A question someone here might be able to answer:

    I have got at the moment Windows7 RTM installed on my Home PC, which is nagging me to activate the copy. Can I now just plugin the serial number I have got from the student offer, and activate my copy? Or do I need to reinstall Windows 7?

  14. Was Steve

    MSDN 4 teh w!n

    Heh, doanloaded it from MSDN a while ago. No ten attempts limit on there, and download manager restarts! :D

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Just for "students"

    Having access to an email address doesn't necessarily make you a student... I got my copy of professional for 30 quid without being a student (AC, for obvious reasons). We'll see how the download fairs when I get home.

    Incidentally, the form also accepts email addresses, but it doesn't advertise this anywhere.

  16. Dave G

    server conflict

    I get a server conflict when trying to download from the little exe you get, try it again later

  17. Rande Knight

    I managed it...

    The download of the files worked fine for me.

    But as previous people have said, it expands a .box file and then fails.

    Did a google for the error message and straight away there was a workaround for creating a .iso from the expanded files that worked fine.

    Reboot with the disc and make sure that you don't reformat the drive as the upgrade check happens quite late in the process.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward works too

    school pupils/students can also take part in the offer as emails also work.

    I used to work in a school, and still have Outlook Web Access to my address... !

    Currently downloading, very slowly, as not great internet where I am at the mo.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Digital River not so hot

    My girlfriends computer came with a 60 day trial of MS Office and when it was up, she wanted to buy a copy.

    I'm pretty sure the buy now option was from Digital River. The $99 price seemed ok, but there were limits on the ability to download your copy, extra fees for having a physical copy, extra fees for still being able to download it a year from now and so on.

    We went to a local store and bought it for about $5 less and it comes with the DVD. So simple.

    MS should reconsider its relationship with this kind of partner.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Universities setup

    I believe that this issue probably stems from the fact that to external sites; a whole university network normally shares one IP; I always used to have the problem with megavideo, as it effectively shared 70 minutes allowance between 2500 people!

    Luckily I stumped up the extra £9 to get the disks; though With the current situation I suspect that they will take a while! But then had to pay another £30 to get the restoration disks for vista; as you cant restore from the HDD partition if you move from vista (which I did to use w7 RC); wish it'd pointed that out somewhere!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @Ryan 7

    New keyboard please!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Can someone please draw me a Venn diagram

    showing all the users of addresses ending in who have addresses that don't end in

  23. SKiNFreak

    Where's the Key?

    OK - downloaded it. Got the 32-bit vs 64-bit problem. Fixing that and trying to create an iso now. But....where's the product key? Got an email saying "your product key is ready...go to find my".

    So I go there, log in. WHERE?!?!

    No links, my invoice is blank just offering a download link again...confused to crap.

  24. James Pickett


    How long before we hear that 'it was so popular, we couldn't meet the demand'?

    H/T to the AC who mentioned the qualification though. That could be useful.

    Jimmy Edwards, obviously...

  25. CaptainFrizzie
    Thumb Up


    I'd love to thank Justaboo. I was looking into this solution but didn't know the command. I had issues with the server last night but was able to DL and install this morning with no problems. If you poke around there is a cheap deal for Office on the Digital River site as well...And this got me thinking. I've seen some two sided articles about 7, unbiased and objective and I've seen some articles full of praise but I have yet to see anything like what was seen with Vista. Has M$ done some redeeming of the washed masses with 7?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Digital River woes

    I've had so many problems with Digital River in the past. It once took me a month to get some software downloaded and their support was just useless. Error messages would kick up at random points with no real clue as to the problem (or any tech info for DR to understand the problem).

    I just do not understand why Microsoft does not have their own e-commerce site, as the coding for DR is ridiculous. A company the size of Microsoft could surely put a reasonable solution together in a month or two and I would have more confidence buying direct than through DR.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Worked for me

    - 40 minutes downloading the files

    - 10 minutes to create a USB stick ready for the files

    - 10 minutes to unpack the files

    - 5 minutes to copy the files to the USB stick

    - 8 hours removing TrueCrypt from my PC

    - 30 minutes to install and switch Vista/32 to 7/64

    - an evening of some reinstalling

    and all for £30. It's worth it being a student :)

    It is not that different to Vista but they've listened to the input. Even the wife's heard of it!!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    You did not RTFA. They did.

  29. John McEchron
    Gates Halo

    Worked OK for me

    I had no problems with the download manager or extraction tools, and it was very simple to just burn the contents of the "expanded setup" folder to a DVD. I haven't tried a clean install yet, but the order website was plastered with warnings that this deal was for an Upgrade-Only license.

  30. NX3

    Quick Fix.....

    What a joke....why not give people a ISO ? Can anyone confirm they have done a clean install with the download version ?

    There is a way to create an image file despite receiving this error we seem to be all receiving.

    1. You will need to use an additional Microsoft command-line tool, called Oscdimg.

    Details here

    Download here

    Download the .zip file and extract it. Then cut and paste the Oscdimg.exe file into your C:\Windows\System32 directory

    2. You now need to start up your command prompt, which can be done by Start->Run then enter 'cmd' into the prompt.

    3. You should now have the command prompt open, now you need to use the Oscdimg tool to create the image, by entering the following:

    Oscdimg.exe -u2 -bC:\<YOUR DIR> \expandedSetup\boot\ -h C:\<YOUR DIR> \expandedSetup C:\<YOUR DIR> \Win7.iso

    For example: Oscdimg.exe -u2 -bC:\Users\James\Downloads\expandedSetup\boot\ -h C:\ Users\James\Downloads \expandedSetup C:\ Users\James\Downloads \Win7.iso

    It will now scan the source tree then begin creating the image. PLEASE note: you must replace '<YOUR DIR> ' appropriately as to where you have downloaded the files.

    4. You should now have an image file, called Win7.iso, in the same directory.

    5. You can now burn this .iso file to a blank DVD using appropriate software. I personally use PowerISO (You dont need the paid version to burn the image)

    6. Viola! You have your not so shiny Windows 7 disk. Restart your computer and install away!

    - I take no acknowledgement for this, I dug about and found the info at:

  31. wsm

    Early Birds?

    Downloaded in less than 20 minutes, but immediately after the message arrived from Digital River. Early downloaders seemed to have no problem at all according to other forums.

    BTW, the expandedSetup folder can be used to create a bootable .iso file. Any number of softwares can do that. One of the files inside the \Boot directory is used as the boot image and with a small change to the sector load specification, a Windows 7 DVD is made.

  32. tempemeaty

    Past experience...I'll never buy from them again...

    I feel your pain. I've purchased other software from Digital Rivers. Bad experience. Simply put I'll never purchase from Digital Rivers again.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Product key?

    I haven't received my product key as yet.

    The download went smoothly though. I used Firefox to download a smaller file (the download manager for Digital River), and ran it. It downloaded the three files mentioned without a problem. Unfortunately, my Windows box is throwing its toys out of the pram for some unknown reason right now...

  34. Anonymous Coward


    Why is it £30 in the UK but only $29.99 in the USA ?

  35. SKiNFreak
    Thumb Down

    Getting the 64bit install error (0xC00000e9)‎

    OK - ISO burned and now the 64bit install error (0xC00000e9)‎ rears it's ugly head. I have tried burning the DVD with two types of media but no luck...looks like it is USB next....

  36. Handle this!

    only $29.99 in the USA

    Except in Nabraska?

  37. Milkfloat

    Me too

    I spent many hours trying to sort this disaster out yesterday. Digital River / Microsoft should be shot over this complete lack of testing. The workaround is now pretty simple and clear (if you are IT minded), but for your average novice I would suggest that you wait for the dust to settle and for new files to be uploaded.

    Getting the workaround perfected took a lot of people (including me) a lot of time and pain yesterday, Microsoft / Digital River first of all denied there was a problem, then went very silent and still have not answered emails. Guys - burying your head in the sand is not the right thing to do. It strikes me a crazy that such a large organisation cannot perform simple testing before the launch of a product that is supposed to save the company. Windows 7 may be good, but if you cannot even unpack it to install it is a huge FAIL.


  38. VulcanV5

    Digital River rules OK

    Although it's clear that something has gone wrong at Digital River, I know the company is doing its best to sort things out and maintain the standard of competence and service that has made it such a household name and valued Microsoft partner.

    A series of emails exchanged between myself and Digital River confirm that customer satisfaction is their numbero uno priority, and that the product key for my Windows ME will definitely, but definitely, be with me by the end of this month.

  39. Mal Franks

    Will be giving this a go tonight...

    with a USB flashdrive.

  40. steven ross

    Total fiasco

    Didnt receive email notification that download was now available.

    Managed to log into account and get the download to work but no sign of serial anywhere.

    I'm having the extraction/permissions problem that people seem to be having.

    So I am now left with some random unusable files and no serial number.

    Quality service.

  41. Colonel Mad


    Thanks to everyone who posted assistance on this, I now have a working Win 7 installation.

  42. SKiNFreak
    Thumb Down

    Still no serial from me these people actually pick up their email? I have sent one to, and 2 to their web form. No reposnse. No correspondence!

    Oddly enough I did another order for my in-laws email address and it worked a charm - all was well. So the system clearly works for some and not others.


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