Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Embedded Product Key (8.0) for 8.1 install

  1. #1

    Embedded Product Key (8.0) for 8.1 install


    So, I have purchased some computers from Dell and they have Windows 8.0 Professional from the OEM. So, it was very easy for me to use my MSDN media, reinstall Windows 8.0, and it simply detected and used my Windows 8 embedded BIOS key. From there, I would make any adjustments needed, run sysprep, and grab an image. This allowed me to use that image on any of the Dell's that I purchased with Windows 8 and all was great.

    Then, along comes the free upgrade to Windows 8.1. I took one of my Dell's, and laid down a clean windows 8.0 image. Then I ran the Store "free" upgrade to Windows 8.1. All was well. I then cleaned up the temporary files and whatnot and tried to run Sysprep only to be greeted with an error that said, "I'm sorry, I cannot validate your OS installation". Did some research and found that you aren't supposed to run Sysprep on a machine that you ran an "upgrade". Instead, you are supposed to install from scratch.

    Ok, let's do that. Grabbed the 8.1 ISO from MSDN, put it onto an installable USB key, started the install and it now prompts me for a key. It won't detect or use the embedded 8.0 key that is on the box. So, I cannot actually clean install Windows 8.1 with the embedded OEM key, even though I can freely upgrade to 8.1.

    I'm not going to take my new Dell computers, lay down the clean 8.0 image and then upgrade each of them manually via the store to Windows 8.1. This takes way too long.

    I'm not going to use my MSDN keys to install onto these machines, because I don't want them to activate these keys. They aren't the legit keys for these machines. These machines have legit OEM Windows 8 keys and 8.1 is a free upgrade to 8.0, so it seems like these legit keys would work. I paid dell to have a valid OEM license on the computer, that is what I want to use.

    Does anybody know of a way to get 8.1 Pro to install clean, on a machine with an embedded 8.0 Pro key. This post is in no way shape or form trying to perform any type of piracy.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 2,191
    Windows 8.1


    Hi pparks1,

    I believe that ISO requires a generic key to complete the install but I'm not sure what that might be for your specific download; however, I can tell you that if you use Brink's tutorial to download the ISO, this key may work:

    XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB

    The above generic key is the one I used to do my clean install of 8.1 Pro. Now, once done, you will then need to use your retail key to activate the installation. Yes, I did say retail because I am not sure how/if an OEM key would work under these circumstances.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    @pp,

    my2c didn't have an oem preinstall, it seems.

    I think you may need to find your oem key first, then manually enter it after installing. Probably best to find the key anyway, just in case.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 2,191
    Windows 8.1


    Quote Originally Posted by SIW2 View Post
    my2c,

    Did you originally have an oem preinstall with embedded key? I think you may need to find your oem key first, then manually enter it after installing.
    Hi SIW2,

    I guess I did a lousy job of explaining myself so I apologize for that! Anyway, I did not have an OEM installation because I had a retail Win 8 Pro key so I just started to type and then at the end I realized that pparks1 was in an entirely different situation so I added the caution at the end of my response. However, your suggestion may be applicable to pparks1's situation; however, I do not know of anyone that has found their legitimate OEM key and then succesffully added it at the end (as you suggested).

    Now, if that would work, one would have to be sure they did, in fact, find the correct OEM key, and secondly, they would have to try it as you described but somehow, I got a bad feeling about whether that method would actually work on an OEM configuration because I haven't heard any reports that it has so far. Have you?

    So, in summary, I'm good to go on 8.1 because I know the retail key works but I have my doubts about the OEM clean install until proven otherwise; however, thanks a bunch for your concern over my poorly written response.

    Cheers,

    my2cents
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 5,360
    7/8/ubuntu/Linux Deepin


    Yes, I have seen it mentioned a few times, can't recall specifically where. That is why I suggested it.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


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


    I have my burned key using method described on this forum. Afraid to try it though as my only computer and use it as OTA TV DVR besides normal stuff.

    Too many negatives here about using 8.1 ISO to upgrade OEM 8. Takes hours to test it, image, install, test, etc. Not willing to go there. Call me a wuss.

    PS: Crapped my pants the other day when I did a refresh and had to recover stuff. Still not back to original. IMAGE PEOPLE! I'm one of those easily stressed individuals.
    Last edited by popeye; 06 Nov 2013 at 22:27.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 1,121
    Windows 8.1 x64


    Ok, I have been watching this to see if any reasonable solution is known.

    I have been asking for a while if the OEMs were offering an update to 8.1 through them, but it seems that option is not available.

    So, the activation process, after you install Windows 8.1, needs the 8.0 License key which in embedded in the bios on these systems.

    I suppose I was wondering, when you select "Activate Windows" what options are you given? On my ,non-OEM system, I am asked to input a key or possibly call. Has anyone called Microsoft to see if there is a way to force the Activation process to check for the embedded key as it does during an install? I know during an install, the keys are checked in a file in the sources folder on the install media, then the embedded key, then a manually entered key. There may, or at least should be, some way to use that same process during an update activation. It might be something as simple as waiting some period of time, but no evidence of that, so far.

    Granted, if you can somehow dig out your Windows 8 key, you can simply enter it. But since most Windows 8 systems were sold with the embedded key, surely the OEMs and Microsoft would have come up with a way to access it during a clean (basically) Windows 8.1 install. If not, the end users should be raising you know what....with their OEMs!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


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


    Quote Originally Posted by Saltgrass View Post
    Granted, if you can somehow dig out your Windows 8 key, you can simply enter it. But since most Windows 8 systems were sold with the embedded key, surely the OEMs and Microsoft would have come up with a way to access it during a clean (basically) Windows 8.1 install. If not, the end users should be raising you know what....with their OEMs!
    Amen, but all I hear is crickets. At this point, I'm not even sure I can enter my embedded key that I dug out, as you say.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    I used a tool to grab the installed key. I tried to use during the 8.1 install, but it would not take. I will try the key above to get an install, then change key to my Oem key, and see if it will activate. If so, I well then sysprep and then image.

    I have a feeling that since it won't accept the key at install, it won't accept it when I try to change the product key either.....since it is in fact a Windows 8.0 key. And I don't think during the upgrade it has to activate, since it's coming from a pre-activated system.

    These damn 8 keys should have worked for all 8.x versions if they are free.

    I'll report my results tomorrow.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


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


    Quote Originally Posted by pparks1 View Post
    These damn 8 keys should have worked for all 8.x versions if they are free.

    I'll report my results tomorrow.
    OEM keys are not free but pretty cheap compared to retail. We do pay as part of the hardware price. I for one will be waiting for your results. Thanks for trying.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Embedded Product Key (8.0) for 8.1 install
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