Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

Windows 8 OEM Installation

  1. #1

    Posts : 5
    Microsoft Windows 10 Professional x64

    Windows 8 OEM Installation

    Hello - Please accept my apologies if this is answered elsewhere but I have googled for days and cannot find anything on this.

    From what I can gather, there are 3 "generations" of Windows 8:
    - Windows 8 (Standard & Professional)
    - Windows 8.1 (Standard & Professional)
    - Windows 8.1 with Update (Standard & Professional)

    I have a laptop which came "Pre-Installed" with Windows 8.1 "Standard" - the laptop uses UEFI so I know the product key is stored in the ROM etc.

    I was originally trying to install using the x64 Windows 8 image till I realised it was the 8.1 version pre-installed, I then used the 8.1 version and it still wouldn't detect the key. Then I realised that there was a third version, this "Windows 8.1 with Update", once I obtained the ISO for this version, during setup it detected the key and installed correctly pre-activated as it should do.

    My question however relates to an Unattended Setup - I use Answer files to install Windows 8 you see... when I use the Windows 8.1 Standard key for OEM in the Answer file, 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT it installs with that key and doesn't read the correct key from the UEFI... naturally this fails activation as you can't activate the generic keys.

    If I remove the ProductKey section from the answer file, Setup fails saying "Cannot read the <ProductKey> setting from the unattend answer file". It appears that I must use a key of some sort, but is there a different key for Windows 8.1 UPDATE as opposed to normal Windows 8.1 without the Update? Or is there a way to use an answer file and get it to detect the key?

    I'm only interested in the OEM versions of Standard & Professional, this does not relate to Enterprise or VLK's etc as I know it's a different procedure with these.

    Any help?

    Thanks Guys!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2

    Posts : 879
    Windows 10

    When installing Windows 8/8.1, setup.exe uses the following priority logic for product keys:

    1. Answer file (Unattended file, EI.cfg, or PID.txt)
    2. Product key in the BIOS/Firmware
    3. Product key entry screen

    If a key is supplied, the key is attempted to be use with the image that are available on the media being installed. If there is no product key supplied in the step 1 and step 2, you will get the product key prompt during setup.

    Quote Originally Posted by dangalore1988 View Post
    is there a different key for Windows 8.1 UPDATE as opposed to normal Windows 8.1 without the Update?

    Quote Originally Posted by dangalore1988 View Post
    is there a way to use an answer file and get it to detect the key?
    I don't know nothing about the unattended answer file, but look at this post for info -> 4. View Windows 8 OEM product key from UEFI (MSDM table).
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3

    Posts : 5
    Microsoft Windows 10 Professional x64

    Hello - thanks for the quick reply - the problem is, if I don't specify a key in the answer file it won't install and fails saying I must enter a key - I don't want to have to extract the key from the uefi everytime
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4

    Harrisonburg, Va.
    Posts : 10,488
    Windows 8.1.1 Pro with Media Center

    Here is a key finder:

    ShowKey v1.2.vbs

    Click image for larger version
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5

    Posts : 5
    Microsoft Windows 10 Professional x64

    Hello David - I have seen this tool before and I know it works well to extract the key from the UEFI - problem is though, this tool will only give me the product key for this computer - that would mean I'd have to run the program on every computer, update the answer file with that computer's key from the UEFI before installation.

    I need a key I can put in my answer file which will work on every computer and will be ignored as setup will extract the key automatically from the UEFI - any ideas?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6

    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,476
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit

    I think you already know this but I'll mention it just in case. Windows 8.1 won't read or use an 8.0 OEM embedded key. If your installing Windows 8.1 on a PC that came with Windows 8.0 preinstalled the 8.0 OEM key will be ignored and you'll be prompted to enter one. You can activate Windows 8.1 with an 8.0 key you just can't use the 8.0 key for the install. Like I said if you already know all this then just ignore this post.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7

    Posts : 5
    Microsoft Windows 10 Professional x64

    Hello Everyone - Just to let you know (and anyone else who has this issue) I have worked out a solution.

    When installing Windows 8, 8.1 or 8.1 with Update using an answer file for a UEFI based computer (where the OEM stores the product key in the UEFI), the answer file MUST contain a Product Key - if you miss this from the answer file, it will not install.

    The following keys are generic installation keys which you can use in the Answer file to complete the installation:

    Windows 8 Standard - FB4WR-32NVD-4RW79-XQFWH-CYQG3
    Windows 8 Professional - XKY4K-2NRWR-8F6P2-448RF-CRYQH

    Windows 8.1 Standard - 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT
    Windows 8.1 Professional - XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB

    As people above informed me, there is no "new" generic key for the "8.1 with Update" version - the 8.1 keys above will work with that version. Also, there is no difference between x32 and x64 versions - as long as your using the right key for either 8 or 8.1 and either standard or professional it will auto install with answer file.

    When the system finishes the auto install process, Windows will *NOT* be preactivated using this method - you now need to extract the specific OEM Key stored for that computer in the UEFI and then use slmgr.vbs to change the key and activate it.

    My workaround involves using a VBS script which I will attach - it automates the change of key, and can be called on first run. After the script excutes, the product key is effectively changed from the generic key in the answer file, to the unique product key for that computer stored in the UEFI by the OEM.

    Please also note that in my scenario, when I tried to activate a 8.1 (without update) ISO using the OEM key from UEFI it failed - it appears that although the generic keys work in both With and Without Update versions of 8.1 ISO, the UEFI OEM installed key may not, and you may have to identify which version the key applies to.

    Once again, thanks to everyone for their help.... I got there in the end!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8

    Posts : 5
    Microsoft Windows 10 Professional x64

    Helps if I add the attachment... I've used bits of code I've found on the topic to make this VBS file, feel free to use it yourself as it seems to work!
    Attached Files
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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