Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


How do I unregister my windows 8 product key?

  1. #11


    Posts : 6
    Windows 7


    Thank you guys for the help! Before I go crazy with formatting my hard drives though, I just want to check that I got it all correct.

    So I've uninstalled the retail product key from the win 8.1 that I have installed in a virtual machine using the slmgr /upk command thingy, and I got a pop-up saying that the product key was uninstalled successfully.

    Now I'll go and prepare myself a bootable USB drive with the 8.1 installation media and format my HDD and convert it back to the GPT partition style that it was originally at.

    Then I'll boot up from the USB, if it recognises my OEM key, great, if not, I'll give it the product key of the retail version I have and all should be fine because I uninstalled the product key previously.

    Am I correct or is there something else I should do?

    Also, what is this phone activation thing that people seem to be going on about?

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #12


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


    Once you activate with a key for the first time, Microsoft stores a hash of the hardware it was activated on. Any further activations with that key and the hash or the hardware is compared with what was stored originally. If they match, it activates with no issues. If the hashes don't match and Microsoft thinks you've installed it on a second PC, activation will fail. That's when you do the phone activation.

    As Genet posted, You cannot remove the activation from the Microsoft activation server.
    But before you install Windows 8.1 to a new computer, you will need to uninstall current installed product key from your old computer.

    The only reason to do the second part is if your going to continue to use that VM. If your not, and its removed/erased, there is no need. The VM and your new install using the same product code would be an issue and cause activation issues. The slmgr /upk command just removed the product code from the VM, It doesn't erase the fact that it has already been used. The Microsoft activation server still thinks its in use. The phone activation transfers it to the new hardware. You might get lucky and not have to do the phone activation, I wouldn't count on it though. Just remember if your asked how many PC's its used on to say one. Or if asked if its only installed on one PC to say yes. I don't remember the exact question asked. It's been a while since I've done a phone activation in a while.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #13


    Posts : 6
    Windows 7


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    Once you activate with a key for the first time, Microsoft stores a hash of the hardware it was activated on.
    Aaaah now that makes sense. I thought they just have some database of keys and it has some flag "currently in use", and then if you try to use a key more than once it will complain that it's already in use.

    So since I installed the retail copy on win 8.1 on a VM, it will have already sent the hash of the hardware to MS and I will definitely need to do the phone activation should I want to install that retail copy anywhere else but that VM. Did I understand it correctly?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #14


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


    Quote Originally Posted by norsul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    Once you activate with a key for the first time, Microsoft stores a hash of the hardware it was activated on.
    Aaaah now that makes sense. I thought they just have some database of keys and it has some flag "currently in use", and then if you try to use a key more than once it will complain that it's already in use.

    So since I installed the retail copy on win 8.1 on a VM, it will have already sent the hash of the hardware to MS and I will definitely need to do the phone activation should I want to install that retail copy anywhere else but that VM. Did I understand it correctly?
    Yes, that is correct.

    I've done many many reinstalls of Windows 8 and 8.1 on my laptop and desktop PC and never had activation issues. I just keep track of what key was used on what PC. My laptop has an OEM Windows 8.0 embedded key but I have also used full Retail keys on it to install Pro. I'm reinstalling on the same hardware with the same key each time so it activates online automatically. You can even change hardware in a desktop PC and not have issues. If you swap only one or two components at a time, like your Video Card or hard drive etc, you'll also be fine. The only thing that will trigger it right away is a motherboard swap where its a different motherboard make or model.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #15


    Posts : 6
    Windows 7


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    Yes, that is correct.

    I've done many many reinstalls of Windows 8 and 8.1 on my laptop and desktop PC and never had activation issues. I just keep track of what key was used on what PC. My laptop has an OEM Windows 8.0 embedded key but I have also used full Retail keys on it to install Pro. I'm reinstalling on the same hardware with the same key each time so it activates online automatically. You can even change hardware in a desktop PC and not have issues. If you swap only one or two components at a time, like your Video Card or hard drive etc, you'll also be fine. The only thing that will trigger it right away is a motherboard swap where its a different motherboard make or model.
    Yeah it makes sense to use the motherboard as the input for the hash since that is the least replaceable bit of a computer. Guess I'll just hope that my OEM key still works and if not, guess I'll have to go through the phone activation, ugh.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #16


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


    Quote Originally Posted by norsul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    Yes, that is correct.

    I've done many many reinstalls of Windows 8 and 8.1 on my laptop and desktop PC and never had activation issues. I just keep track of what key was used on what PC. My laptop has an OEM Windows 8.0 embedded key but I have also used full Retail keys on it to install Pro. I'm reinstalling on the same hardware with the same key each time so it activates online automatically. You can even change hardware in a desktop PC and not have issues. If you swap only one or two components at a time, like your Video Card or hard drive etc, you'll also be fine. The only thing that will trigger it right away is a motherboard swap where its a different motherboard make or model.
    Yeah it makes sense to use the motherboard as the input for the hash since that is the least replaceable bit of a computer. Guess I'll just hope that my OEM key still works and if not, guess I'll have to go through the phone activation, ugh.
    If you use the correct install media your OEM key should be read and used automatically during the install. If you download your 8.1 install media from here, Create installation media for Windows 8.1 - Windows Help it will accept Windows 8.0 and 8.1 keys, even OEM embedded keys. You just have to match the download to what was installed at the factory. If I install 8.1 from that link it uses the 8.0 key in my laptops BIOS automatically and activates online automatically with no issues. If I install 8.1 Pro it will ask me to type in a Pro key. I can then type in one of my MSDN Pro keys, 8.0 Pro or 8.1 Pro.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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How do I unregister my windows 8 product key?
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