Microsoft has made a quiet change to the way it serves Windows 7 ISOs to users who want to perform a clean install or to IT admins who need to work with computers without an Internet connection, as the files are no longer available via Digital River.
Instead, the company has launched what is being called the Microsoft Software Recovery center that provides you with information about your download but also allows you to get the necessary files just like before, but with one additional step: you now have to provide your product key before actually downloading the ISOs, so Microsoft can verify if the license is valid or not.
The software giant hasn't officially announced the change, but it has been working on moving the download center from Digital River's servers for months.
The first time we reported to you about some changes impacting Microsoft's Digital River downloads was in March 2014, when the Windows 7 download links suddenly became unavailable to users worldwide. The company was most likely performing tests of this new feature, so here we are almost one year later with the Software Recovery center available to all.
Ранее загрузить образ системы можно было через Microsoft Digital River, но Windows 7 исчез оттуда в марте 2014 года. Теперь он находится по адресу Microsoft Software Recovery.
Right now, the page allows us to download Windows 7 ISOs exclusively, but that could change in the coming months, as Microsoft continues work on this new feature.
To download Windows 7, all you need to do is enter the product key on the official Software Recovery website, select the product language, and press the “Verify Product Key” button.
As LifeHacker writes, Microsoft automatically verifies your product key, and if everything is okay, you should proceed to the actual download of the ISO.
In case you're wondering why the change, the reason is probably related to piracy. By checking the product key before actually downloading the ISO file, Microsoft can see who and when gets the disc image and can always prevent a pirated key from being used to reach the download links.
Of course, it's a little bit too late for Windows 7 since the official ISOs are pretty much all over the web, but the company might actually prepare for the arrival of Windows 10, when such a feature would actually make much more sense.