Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

OEM re-install question.

  1. #1

    OEM re-install question.


    I work as a PC tech and sometimes i may need to re-install Windows on laptops which has it's hard drive failed. In case of Windows 7, it's a fairly easy process. You just have to look in to the COA sticker, install the same edition and then use phone activation. "Windows 8" made the process more easy by embedding OEM key in to the BIOS. The install media will pick the BIOS embedded key automatically and internet activation will work - supposed to be peace of cake. However my question is how one will find the version of "Windows 8" came with the machine in case of the HDD is failed ?. In my experience most of the common users are not tech savvy and they have no idea about different versions of Windows. Very few of them even know that you can create a "Recovery" USB to re-install Windows in case something like this happened.

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  2. #2

    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10

    without actually having a working version of windows - to check the edition or to pull the embedded product key, it is somewhat hard to do..

    There are several programs that will show the embedded key and a member "Superfly" wrote a program to check the edition.. It only works from within a windows environment though.. He has a link in his sig to the program

    Showkey - Windows 10 Forums
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  3. #3

    United States
    Posts : 3,093
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit

    Maybe the manufacturer can tell by the serial number of the machine?
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  4. #4


    Pulling the key is not an issue. I can install a trial version of "Windows 8" or boot from a PE and retrieve the BIOS embedded key. Then what we do with that key without knowing which edition was installed on that machine ?. Currently what i do is trying different editions of Windows one by one and find which one auto read the key from BIOS. This is an option for me because i have multiple editions of Windows in my hand. That won't be an option for a normal user. I guess he/she should download and try different editions of Windows one by one using "Media creation tool" - taking in to consideration that ordering recovery media option is only available in a selected few countries.
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  5. #5

    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10

    with showkey - it tells the edition - I believe it some checks the key with MSDN

    best place to post in regards to your question is here > Please Read: Activation troubleshooting
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  6. #6

    Thanks. I never knew that "ShowKey" can also identify the OEM edition. That's what exactly i am looking for .

    I hope MS will limit Win 10 to "Professional" and "Enterprise" editions only - or at least no more "with Bing" editions which can't be clean installed.
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  7. #7

    Posts : 2,690
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10

    with BING is what screws everybody - can't download it - and have to use the OEM factory recovery option
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  8. #8

    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit

    The With Bing and Single language editions can be a pain. The COA sticker, as far as I can tell, will only tell you if its Pro or one of the other editions. If it doesn't say Pro it could be core or SL or SL with Bing. Pain in the you know what when the PC won't boot to Windows so you can figure out what edition was installed. My MSDN ISO's will install Core or Pro depending on what key is found/used. No good though if its SL or SL with Bing. Like KYHI said, the With Bing can be hard to find. It's not listed on MSDN or the Media Creation Tool. On the Plus side, the Media Creation Tool install media will read and use Windows 8.0 keys and 8.1 keys. Saves you having to install 8.0 and upgrading to 8.1. Or messing with generic install keys. I'm lucky, both of my laptops have regular 8.0 keys. I can use my MSDN ISO's of the Media Creation Tool media.
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  9. #9

    The way it should work is the embeded key should tell the installer which version to install and all install media, DVD or flash drive should have all versions available, just like you see if you remove the ei.cfg file in Vista, Windows 7 and I think 8 and 8.1.

    I just scanned a Windows 10 TP x64 iso and do not see a ei.cfg file.
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  10. #10

    Yup, the all-in-one windows 7 ISO's were a pleasure - unfortunately, the ways things are going with ESD distribution, that is a thing of the past... The good news on the other hand is that Windows 10 editions have been drastically cut down to just Core, Pro and Enterprise in the current schema (although all previous Win 8 editions, apart from WMC, are supported) ...with only Pro as an OEM version - it may change come GA release but here's hoping...
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OEM re-install question.
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