Unlocking special features and taskbar, removing 30 day trial and watermark on Windows 7 (build 6801)
Windows 7 build 6801 was released into the wild shortly after PDC this year. You may have found and installed a copy simply to find the regular (so last summer) Vista taskbar and wondering what all the fuss is about. There have been some tutorials on how to fix these issues, but they are not all that easy to follow. For example, Rafael Rivera posted a great fix, which allows you to unlock the protected/hidden enhanced Windows 7 taskbar. However, the instructions were a little short and required you to use a command line interface, which simply isn’t necessary. The issues that will be solved are:
– Unlocking the protected/hidden Windows 7 features that were shown at PDC but were not made available in the 6801 build to those who aren’t close to the development of Windows 7. This includes the enhanced Windows 7 taskbar.
– At the bottom right hand side of your desktop is stated, “For testing purposes only. Build 6801″, as discussed in a recent article, Windows 7 is finished at anyone point in time, so you may want to use build 6801 as your primary PC until a newer build is released.
– When you installed Windows 7 build 6801 you probably left the serial/activation key blank. This leaves you with only 30 days to tryout Windows 7.
First things first, we’d recommend that you completely disable UAC for the duration of this process and then you can choose to switch it back on afterwards. You can do this by visiting Control Panel -> User Accounts -> Turn User Account Control on or off and then move the slider to the lowest point and restart your computer.
So firstly you will want to unlock the hidden Windows features, Rafael Rivera created an executable to help with this, most likely you are on a 32 bit computer, so download x86. If you are using a 64 bit version of Windows 7 then download x64. Download and extract, inside you’ll find ‘unlockProtectedFeatures.exe’, move or copy this file to C:\Windows (My Computer -> C Drive -> Windows). Now restart your computer, just before the Windows loading screen occurs press F8 repeatedly until a text screen displays, navigate to “Safe Mode”. Once you’re in safe mode, hold down the keys Ctrl – Alt – Del on your keyboard, open Task Manager. Choose the tab which states “Processes”, find explorer.exe and Kill task. Navigate to File -> New Task. Browse to C:\Windows. Rename explorer.exe to Explorer.exe and then locate unlockProtectedFeatures.exe, right click this file and Run as administrator. A window should open that allows you to unlock protected features. Once you have completed the form and submitted the new taskbar should dsiplay itself. However it will be hardely noticable in safe mode. Once you have restarted you should now have the new and improved enchanced taskbar.
UPDATE: Improved watermark removal tutorial.
This fix is one that we worked out all by ourselves (pat on the back). The file in Windows which contains the text that displays at the bottom of Windows 7 build 6801 (shown in the image above) is stored in C:\Windows\System32\en-US\user32.dll.mui. Visit this location, right click the file and select the Security tab, click the “Advanced” button and then visit the owner tab, click the edit button and make yourself the owner of the file. Exit that dialog, saving changes and then click the “Edit…” button, select Users and give yourself Full Control. Exit properties saving changes. Rename user32.dll.mui to user32-backup.dll.mui. We’ve edited the version that was bundled with build 6801 and uploaded it. You can download it here (x86). Once you have unpacked it, place it in the directory C:\Windows\System32\en-US\ and restart your computer.
To activate your copy of Windows and remove the 30 day trial, visit the Start Menu and right click My Computer -> Properties. Scroll to the bottom, you will notice that you have a number of days left to activate your copy. As we officially tested Vista in RC1 stage Microsoft provided us with a serial key a long… long time ago. We simply did a search for RC1 in Outlook and found the key. Typing this key into Windows 7 activation dialog activated our copy. However not everyone tested Windows Vista. We cannot provide you with an activation key, however if you search for “RC1 Vista serial” with the power of Google then you may stumble upon something that may help you.
If you come across any issues or are confused, please leave a comment.