Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

CLEAN INSTALL of Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 OEM Key?

  1. #1

    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1

    CLEAN INSTALL of Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 OEM Key?

    I have recently purchased a new Lenovo C540 that has Windows 8 already installed on it (please note I have posted in Lenovo forums, awaiting solution there as well). I would like to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1 on this computer.

    This is what I have done so far:

    1. I disabled 3 things in the BIOS: IIRC, they were secure boot, quick boot, and something about "optimized" startup...I couldn't even boot from a disc or flashdrive without those 3 things disabled, regardless of my boot priority...
    2. I have changed my boot priority to put the CD/DVD drive first and any flashdrive 2nd
    3. I have figured out my OEM Windows Product Key (this is for a Windows 8 Core/64 bit OS)
    4. I have setup a flashdrive with Windows 8.1 on it
    5. I tried to boot from the flashdrive...when I get the option to install windows 8.1, I click on it and very quickly get the following error -- "The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation. Enter a different product key."
    6. I added a PID.txt file with my OEM product key in the Source folder of the Windows 8.1 install....I don't get the above error message immediately, but a screen comes up that asks me to enter a Product OEM product code (being for W8, not W8.1) does not work while using a generic key (for Windows 8.1 Core) yields the same error message as above and exits the installer. The generic key I used begins with 334NH...I have not tried with a KMS key as I don't know what that is or what strings are attached to that...
    7. I then added an EI.CFG file that sets the edition to core, the version to OEM, and the Volume to 0...unfortunately, when trying to install Windows 8.1 it still asks me for a product key before installing...I cannot get past this screen even though (to my understanding) the EI.CFG file should cause the installer to skip asking for a product key during installation...

    It is important to me that I get to perform a CLEAN install of Windows 8.1...I do not want to upgrade through windows store (though I'd be willing to do it if it was an intermediary step that allowed me to eventually do a clean install)...the only keys I have are a W8 Pro Retail key (for my laptop) and a W8 Core OEM key (that came with the new C540)...I am using a flashdrive to perform this since I knew I may have to add/change files like the PID and EI.CFG....

    I would appreciate any help I can get in solving this problem...I am also willing to try burning an .iso with the PID and/or EI.CFG, but I'm trying to avoid trial and error with that since it is time consuming, requires an ADK, and may waste DVDs...I'd only make an .iso if (for whatever reason) that would work where a flashdrive with the same files would not...

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2

    Posts : 5,592
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1

    You would need buy a Windows 8.1 Core DVD & Product key.

    To clean install:
    1) Clean the HD Drive, using Step one in this tutorial:
    SSD / HDD : Optimize for Windows Reinstallation - Windows 7 Help Forums
    2a) Clean install with the OEM manufacturer's Recovery Disk.

    2b) Clean Install - Windows 8

    2c) UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) - Install Windows 8 with

    Activate retail Windows 8.1 with Windows 8 Product key.

    For USB:
    UEFI Bootable USB Flash Drive - Create in Windows
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3

    I have a thread on this forum about installing 8.1 clean on an Oem computer with embedded key. Search for my name and Oem 8.1 and you should find it. I'm on mobile right now, otherwise I would find it for you.

    I used showkey.vbs to get my embedded key. Then installed 8.1 with a dummy key (found in my other thread). Once installed, I used slmgr.vbs -ipk (embedded key). Rebooted and it activated.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4

    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1

    Thank you for your responses. Actually, pparks1, I have already looked at your thread...unfortunately, it is not helpful to me.

    When I get to the installation screen that asks for the product key, the generic key 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT does not work (this is for core W8.1) and causes the error message "The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation. Enter a different product key."

    It is not a matter of activation...I cannot even install W8.1 in the first place...I need a way to bypass the product key screen during install and unfortunately the only method I know (using an ei.cfg) does not seem to succeed in this regard...
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5

    Question #1) Where did you get your install media from? In my case, it's MSDN media and my dummy key was for Widows 8.1 Pro..., which matches my embedded key which was for Windows 8.0 Pro.

    I believe the key that I used for WIndows 8.1 Pro was XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6

    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1

    I got my install media from Microsoft at the following website:
    Upgrade Windows with only a product key - Microsoft Windows Help

    I did the common trick of selecting Windows 8 first, entering my windows 8 key, cancelling after 1%, and then selecting Windows 8.1...I did this on my current computer (W8.1 Pro, 64bit, though I only have a W8 Pro retail key for it) and selected install by creating, I have a flashdrive with the W8.1 64 bit installation files...

    I got the dummy key from the same sources that have the key you used...since the computer I am working on has a W8 Core OEM key, I try to install with the dummy key associated with W8.1 Core, which is 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT...if I use the dummy W8.1 Pro key (which by the way does get past installation screen after UEFI is turned back on), I will not have a legitimate W8 Pro key to use for the activation trick...

    I suppose I could try and use my W8 Pro retail key, but that is being used on my current laptop (which I will continue to use)...I really don't want to nix that key by risking it being installed on 2 clearly different computers simultaneously....
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7

    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1

    Since W8.1 Pro keys work (the generic as well as the KSM), I'm thinking perhaps the downloaded ISO is somehow tied to W8/W8.1 pro...this doesn't make a whole lot of sense though since the installation files should be good for any 64bit version of windows (my understanding is that either the product key or the ei.cfg file determines the edition of windows to install)...

    Is there a special file in my installation that flags it to be pro? I would then just delete that file and try the core generic/KSM keys again for W8.1...
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8

    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1

    I figured out the issue...since I downloaded the ISO using my W8.1 Pro computer, the ISO was only capable of installing W8.1 Pro...I acquired a different ISO that can install both core and pro and the error messages went away. Thank you both for your help
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9

    Posts : 3
    windows 8.1

    Quote Originally Posted by Seleuceia View Post
    I figured out the issue...since I downloaded the ISO using my W8.1 Pro computer, the ISO was only capable of installing W8.1 Pro...I acquired a different ISO that can install both core and pro and the error messages went away. Thank you both for your help
    Hi, Many thanks for the advice, it helped a lot for my setup on my Lenovo C540! I was just wondering, after doing a clean install of windows 8.1 on the c540 or any pc, if you setup File History using this method : My Personal Nerd: Windows 8 - enabling file history on a single internal drive...
    and the OS suddenly becomes corrupt, is the VHD still accessible to retreive my files off so I can just do another install? Or if I created a partition on the same drive and then shared it for File History use, would that also stay intact and accessible after OS failure?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10

    Posts : 2
    Windows 8.1

    I ran into this problem, where I wanted to install Windows 8.1 from USB or DVD, using the generic key, while the Windows 8 key wasn't specified: it was build-in due to UEFI standards. Then, the above method wouldn't work, since you don't have the key.

    Fortunately, I was still able to run Windows 8, since I didn't reinstall Windows yet. So I downloaded Belarc Analytics (How To Find Your Windows 8 or 8.1 Product Key) and found the complete Windows 8 product key. Then I installed Windows 8.1, by use of the generic key, and activated it with the key Belarc gave me. That worked.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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CLEAN INSTALL of Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 OEM Key?
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