Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Generic install key being detected as OEM key

  1. #1


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro

    Generic install key being detected as OEM key


    Well hello all!

    I'm having a strange issue with a laptop I'm trying to get back up and running. It's a Toshiba laptop that came with Windows 8 with it, obviously UEFI and an embedded key. The person that was using it said it started to act up a week before it fully crashed. Afterwards, it wouldn't boot up, it would either BSOD with an error code I found pertaining to a graphics driver error, or stay on a blue screen with nothing on it and then restart and go through an endless Automatic Repair loop with no success. I check the logs and Windows checked EVERYTHING but couldn't find the issue why it wasn't booting. Did chkdsk, bootrec repair, offline sfc scan, STD scan, tried refresh/reset but the drive was apparently locked, couldn't do a system restore as there weren't any restore points, tried doing startup repair four times; nothing worked.

    So I decided it would have to be wiped and reinstalled with 8.1. Thought it would be an easy process. I used the vbs script to show the OEM key to activate Windows once I was up and running with 8.1. OK, but for some reason the key looked familiar. Keyed in the key, it didn't work. So I wiped that hard drive with Windows 8.0, ran the vbs script, SAME key of Windows 8 Pro as before. Odd. I already tried converting the 8.1 Core OEM I previously installed to 8.1 Pro and tried that key, still nothing.

    Then I checked the key on the interwebs, XKY4K-2NRWR-8F6P2-448RF-CRYQH, the reason why it looked so familiar is because it's a generic install key for Windows 8/8.1! This isn't the OEM key at all!

    I deploy Windows with a custom 8.1 .wim image and have used this several times already and I THINK I might have that key used originally to install Windows into my virtual machine I have going for it. My thinking was that I might have used sysprep one too many times, but that doesn't explain why even with the plain Windows 8 AND 8.1 Core images why the key that's being detected is a generic install key.

    So this is potentially a major problem and haven't even encountered this issue at all. I can't find a lick of information about something like this anywhere.

    Any suggestions or advice are appreciated as always!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


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

    vbs ?


    Is this the vbs script you used ?

    Product Key - Find for Windows 8

    ShowKey v1.3.vbs

    Click image for larger version
    Last edited by Brink; 29 Jun 2014 at 10:16. Reason: added tutorial link for more info
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Yep, that is exactly the .vbs script I used. To make sure it wasn't the script being weird, I ran it on my machine and it showed the key that I do have installed and activated so it's not that.

    I'm thinking, this is really out there on a limb, that somehow the generic key is flashed into the BIOS. I literally ran four different SKUs of Windows 8, 8.0 Core, 8.0 Pro, 8.1 Core, and 8.1 Pro; but ALL showed the same generic install key as what's in the system. All of them were the base images as well so that clears out my custom sysprepped 8.1 image.

    Also, I tried the Belarc system advisor and it showed no key installed for Windows 8.0.

    This is the oddest issue I've ever seen happen with Windows 8 by far. Cake may be awarded to this.

    I'm going to try and make a bootable USB drive of Windows 8 Core and do it that route. Maybe the DISM deployment might be going weird...
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 22,582
    64-bit Windows 10


    Hey Andy,

    Did you already try doing a clean install of Windows 8 at boot to see if it may detect the embedded Windows 8 key?

    It'll only detect the key if the OS is for the exact same edition the key is for.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    Yep. I rewiped the hard drive each time and deployed a clean install image of each different version of Windows to check. Normally with new PCs that 8.0 installed, Windows 8 will detect the key and be happy and won't prompt for a key. Except every time I ran 8.0 on the laptop, I was prompted for the key.

    The laptop came preinstalled with Windows 8.0 Core. Running even with that accompanying OS didn't take the key nor show the correct key but the generic installer key.

    I'll post back when I try making the USB install drive and doing it that route, but I need to run out and get a couple flash drives! Them prices are cheap!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Canada
    Posts : 1,950
    windows 8.1 Update 1 Pro 64bit


    Shot in the dark here, any chance if a hardware switch was done or BIOS update gone wrong?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    No hardware I'm aware of was changed since it's a laptop, and I doubt a BIOS update was even done since the laptop in question is used for simple tasks.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Coke Robot View Post
    Yep. I rewiped the hard drive each time and deployed a clean install image of each different version of Windows to check. Normally with new PCs that 8.0 installed, Windows 8 will detect the key and be happy and won't prompt for a key. Except every time I ran 8.0 on the laptop, I was prompted for the key.
    If it is prompting for the key during the install, that means the embedded key doesn't match the version of Windows that you are attempting to install. If you want to truly see what the embedded OEM key is, you have to install a copy of Windows 8.0 that will simply install without prompting you to enter any key.

    I've been able to use the DVD's provided by Dell with my Dell's in my office and my Acer's. I can also use my MSDN copy without it asking me for a key during install.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 5,707
    Windows 8.1 Pro


    OK, I figured it out! Using the bootable UEFI USB install drive with Windows 8 Core worked. It didn't prompt for keys and activated right off the bat and NOW I have the proper key to use for the new 8.1 image I'll deploy and activate.

    Now this begs the question, what went wrong? I was using DISM to deploy the plain vanilla .wim files from the Windows 8 Core and Pro as well as 8.1 Core and Pro and none of them worked and must have had the generic key associated with the .wim files. None of what I tried out were any custom images I made, all MSDN images. It was a simple command of DISM /Apply-Image /ImageFile:D:\install.wim /index:1 /ApplyDir:W:\.

    Very strange...this is the first time in the few dozen deployments I've done with Windows 8 that this has ever happened...
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 22,582
    64-bit Windows 10


    I believe that for it to detect the embedded OEM key the installation needs to be done at boot.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Generic install key being detected as OEM key
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