Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Clean installs to new SSD's., and getting from 8.0 to 8.1

  1. #1

    Clean installs to new SSD's, and getting from 8.0 to 8.1


    On all my home machines, I am going down a path of swapping out all my boot drives for SSDs, and using the HDD's for data only. Just did this on one of my Win 7 Dell machines - what a difference given the combo of SDD and fresh install!!)

    Windows 8 is a bit more challenging. I want all clean installs.. ie have no interest is "upgrading", or "transferring" or "restoring for image" or "recovering original partitions". I "simply" want to:

    -do a fresh clean install (from install media to a new SSD)
    -re-establish (or adopt a new) a backup strategy to rebuild.
    -recognize the nuances of retail vs OEM and Win 8 vs 8.1 etc.

    I reviewed quite a few articles, posts and threads, and each time I read one more, there is always a little twist. But I "think" I have the full picture now and wanted to confirm.

    Are my assertions below correct ???

    1) I can use my OEM supplied USB bootable Win 8.0 (which will read my embedded 8.0 key) and reinstall 8.0 to the same drive , or a to a replacement HDD (on that machine) or a new SSD drive (on that machine).

    2) Any time after 8.0 is up running, I can use third party image software ( or native windows software) to create image files, a bootable rescue disc, to restore my system should my boot fail or become corrupt.

    3) With 8.0 running, I can download , upgrade and auto activate to 8.1 by going to the windows store.

    4) I can download a Windows 8.1 ISO file from the Microsoft. HOWEVER I cannot use my Windows 8 OEM activation key to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1. If that's want I wanted (reinstall to 8.1) I would need to buy a retail key.

    However there is workaround trick.

    (a) RETAIL KEY
    For those who have a RETAIL win 8.0 key. Per link here : How to download the Windows 8.1 ISO one done , it yields 8.1 ISO file, that can be used to reinstall 8.1 and activate it with an 8.0 RETAIL key.

    The trick is summarized in the above thread as follows:

    "Download both the install win 8 AND install win 8.1 from Upgrade Windows with only a product key - Microsoft Windows Help
    Run windows8setup.exe, put in your win 8.0 RETAIL key. As soon as it says "estimating", click the red X at top rt to close it.

    Then run windowsSetupbox.exe, you don't need to enter anything, it will immediately start to d/l 8.1 which gives the option to create an iso
    ."

    The trick is also explained here, again needing the RETAIL key to start with : Here is how to get the Windows 8.1 ISO and create a USB install stick - Neowin

    ------------------

    (b) OEM KEY

    For those with an OEM key, genet (see post below) suggest the steps outlined here :
    Need help formatted genuine windows 8 in lenovo

    5) Any time after Win 8.1 is up running, I can use third party software ( but not the now broken native windows software) to create image files and rescue disc and restore my system should my boot drive fail or become corrupt.

    6) I can't really create my own bootable Win 8.1 ISO file of a working 8.1 system, to restore a failed or corrupt hard drive...but I can use the image software re above for that purpose.

    7) With a Win 8.1 Retail DVD, I can create an ISO and bootable USB, and use it to install to a fresh SDD, using the 8.1 retail key.

    Did I get that almost right?
    Last edited by Mediaman09; 27 Jan 2014 at 05:18.

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  2. #2


    Posts : 879
    Windows 10
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  3. #3


    genet- Thanks. I believe you are referring to my question (4), and I added your solution to (4)b for completeness. Those steps are however a bit beyond me, but kudos to you for figuring it all out!. It also assumes one knows how and where to download a Windows 8.1 64-bit RTM ISO image.
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  4. #4


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


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


    Is your OEM supplied USB bootable Win 8.0 recovery media or install media. Recovery media will just restore the factory install with all the factory installed apps and programs. It also may not work on a swapped out drive. I couldn't get it to work on my SSD drive in my laptop. I ended up scrounging up a Windows 8 ISO to do a clean install. Official Microsoft Windows 8.0 install media will read and us the OEM embedded key and install the matching version automatically. You don't get prompted to enter a product key and it will activate online automatically once you connect to the internet. Official Microsoft Windows 8.1 install media will not use the 8.0 embedded key, you'll get prompted to enter one during the install. You'll have to enter an 8.1 code to do the install. You can however activate with a Windows 8.0 key. As shown in the link Theog posted above. Just so you know, the download he posted in his second link will not accept OEM keys, you need to enter a Retail key to get the download. If your 8.0 install is activated OK you should be able to update to 8.1 though the store. I think you'll have to do Windows update before it actually shows up in the Windows store.

    My laptop came with Windows 8 Core installed by the manufacturer. I swapped out the original spinner drive with an SSD and did a clean install. I've done clean installs of 8.0 and 8.1 from bootable USB thumb drives with no issues. I use the Windows 7 DVD download tool to create my thumb drives. This doesn't work for everybody though. On a lot of PC's with UEFI, you have to format the thumb drive in Fat32 for the install to work. The Windows 7 DVD download tool formats the thumb drive in NTFS. My laptop is fine with an NTFS formatted drive for UEFI.
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  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by theog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    Is your OEM supplied USB bootable Win 8.0 recovery media or install media. Recovery media will just restore the factory install with all the factory installed apps and programs. It also may not work on a swapped out drive.... Official Microsoft Windows 8.0 install media will read and us the OEM embedded key and install the matching version automatically. You don't get prompted to enter a product key and it will activate online automatically once you connect to the internet. ....

    Official Microsoft Windows 8.1 install media will not use the 8.0 embedded key, you'll get prompted to enter one during the install. You'll have to enter an 8.1 code to do the install. You can however activate with a Windows 8.0 key. ....

    As shown in the link Theog posted above. Just so you know, the download he posted in his second link will not accept OEM keys, you need to enter a Retail key to get the download. ...

    If your 8.0 install is activated OK you should be able to update to 8.1 though the store. I think you'll have to do Windows update before it actually shows up in the Windows store.
    .
    Okay thanks guys, I think then I have the full picture.

    I have three Win 8 machines (each getting new SSD's) - interesting situation as the each has thier own solution...

    a) For one machine A, I have WIN 8.1 PRO RETAIL (DVD)
    So here :

    • 8.1 activation- no issue ; key provided with purhase
    • creating an ISO 8.1 file for 8.1 rebuild - no issue (created from DVD)
    • bootable USB fir 8.1 rebuild - no issue - created from above
    • third party image backups for 8.1 PRO - no problem
    • windows system images/restores for 8.1 PRO- partly broken in 8.1- even on PRO??

    b) For machine B, I have a new ASUS ; OEM version of 8.0 with free upgrade to 8.1
    So here :

    • 8.1 activation- no issue ; key embedded; 8.1 installed via store
    • creating an ISO 8.1 file for 8.1 rebuild - not readlily avaliale ( would need to purchase a retail version of 8.1 or purchase OEM version of 8.0
    • bootable USB for 8.1 rebuild - only if/when iSO obtained
    • third party image backups for 8.1 - no problem
    • windows system images/restores for 8.1- partly broken in 8.1 ??

    Here I will just stick with 8.1 and rely on image bakcups to recover. If all
    else fails on a recovery, I can always by a retail 8.1 key at that time.

    c) For machine C, I have a older DELL - with the OEM version of 8.0 and an OEM suppled USB stick. I got the USB stcik when my new system failed and Dell came on site to install a new drive No activtion key was entered. So I think it really iw an inatall stick vs a repair stick, so thats good. I will certainly try to see if I can downlaod 8.1 from the store. Some Dell users have had success on this machine; other have not. So I may or may not have a free upgrade path to 8.1
    if store 8.1 download successful:

    • creating an ISO 8.1 file for 8.1 rebuild - not readlily available (would need to
    • purchase retail version of 8.1
    • bootable USB for 8.1 rebuild - only if/when iSO obtained
    • third party image backups for 8.1 - no problemt
    • windows system images/restores for 8.1- partly broken in 8.1 ??
      Here, as per B, I will just stick with 8.1 and rely on image bakcups to recover. If all
      else fails on a recovery, I can always by a retail 8.1 key at that time.

    if store 8.1 download not successful:

    • stick with 8.0
    • third party image backups for 8.0 - no problem
    • windows system images/restores for 8.0- no problem (8.0)
      Here I will just stick with 8.0 and only buy a retail key once a major new version is released. I may even use a spare Win 7 licence I have and use the Win 7 SP1 ISO to rebuild as needed.
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  7. #7


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


    I think you'll find that you can install 8.1 on all three PC's with the one Retail DVD. The box may say 8.1 Pro but the DVD likely can install Core or Pro. The key entered determines what is installed. On machine A use the Pro code that came with the DVD as it was already used on that PC. On machine B use the generic 8.1 install code to do the install and then activate with that PC's embedded 8.0 code. Same deal for C, use the leaked install code and then activate with that PC's embedded OEM BIOS key. Each PC will then be legally activated with their own key.
    Product Key - Find for Windows 8
    Activate retail Windows 8.1 with Windows 8 Product key. << The generic install keys are listed in this tutorial.
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  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    I think you'll find that you can install 8.1 on all three PC's with the one Retail DVD. The box may say 8.1 Pro but the DVD likely can install Core or Pro. The key entered determines what is installed......

    Click image for larger version

    And thanks !

    Just to add to the insainity and madness and nonsense, which by any measure this surely is, there are of course at least two versions of "store bought" Win Pro 8.1 64Bit English DVD, specifically the "OEM" version and the "full retail" version".

    I bought the former, Canada Computers | Software | Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional 64-Bit English OEM (per numerous forum recommendations), so I am not sure if this version has both the Pro and Core versions you refer to (unless you happened to buy the same version and can say for sure).

    I guess I'll know when I attempt installing with the generic key
    Last edited by Mediaman09; 27 Jan 2014 at 15:36.
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  9. #9


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


    I'm just going by what I see on TechNet and MSDN. For Windows 8 and 8.1 they don't list separate OEM and Retail ISO's. Also the ones listed are marked as Multiple Edition (Core and Pro). The TechNet keys are listed as being Retail keys. The ISO will except Retail keys and also use the OEM embedded key. My guess is the Retail store bought DVD's are the same as the TechNet ISO's. Let me know what you try and how it works out for you will you.
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  10. #10


    Okay, I stated the process starting with machine A ( the one intend for Win 8.1 PRO. I used a bootable USB I created from the retail DVD.

    Two questions
    1) GENERIC VS OEM KEYS - Following the process outline above of using the generic key to install, and the purchased key to activate, I entered the generic key at the very first key prompt, and it accepted it. My only question here is that the wording of that very first prompt was "Enter the product key you want to use to ACTIVATE", so , given I only entered the generic key, I assume at some point to will again ask me for the 'real' purchased OEM key to actually activate. Correct?
    UPDATE - OK ANSWERED; I ACTIVATE FOR REAL UNDER PC SETTING/ACTIVATE WINDOWS


    2) PARTITIONS - When it stated to install on the SSD, I expected it to and it did) alert me, that it may create hidden recovery partitions. In my past installs, it created a single 100MB hidden parttin. I gather for Win 8.1 Pro its a bit different, per screen shot below (unless this was simply a result of using the generic key) ??

    Click image for larger version
    Last edited by Mediaman09; 27 Jan 2014 at 23:32.
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Clean installs to new SSD's., and getting from 8.0 to 8.1
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