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

Seleuceia

New Member
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 Key...my 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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1

theog

VIP Member
VIP Member
Gold Member

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    ME, XP,Vista,Win7,Win8,Win8.1
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Other Info
    Notebooks x 3

    Desktops x 5

    Towers x 4

pparks1

Well-Known Member
VIP Member
Guru
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Self-Built in July 2009
    CPU
    Intel Q9550 2.83Ghz OC'd to 3.40Ghz
    Motherboard
    Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R rev. 1.1, F12 BIOS
    Memory
    8GB G.Skill PI DDR2-800, 4-4-4-12 timings
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA 1280MB Nvidia GeForce GTX570
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC899A 8 channel onboard audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    23" Acer x233H
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Intel X25-M 80GB Gen 2 SSD
    Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black, 32MB cache. WD1001FALS
    PSU
    Corsair 620HX modular
    Case
    Antec P182
    Cooling
    stock
    Keyboard
    ABS M1 Mechanical
    Mouse
    Logitech G9 Laser Mouse
    Internet Speed
    15/2 cable modem
    Other Info
    Windows and Linux enthusiast. Logitech G35 Headset.

Seleuceia

New Member
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1

pparks1

Well-Known Member
VIP Member
Guru
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Self-Built in July 2009
    CPU
    Intel Q9550 2.83Ghz OC'd to 3.40Ghz
    Motherboard
    Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R rev. 1.1, F12 BIOS
    Memory
    8GB G.Skill PI DDR2-800, 4-4-4-12 timings
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA 1280MB Nvidia GeForce GTX570
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC899A 8 channel onboard audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    23" Acer x233H
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Intel X25-M 80GB Gen 2 SSD
    Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black, 32MB cache. WD1001FALS
    PSU
    Corsair 620HX modular
    Case
    Antec P182
    Cooling
    stock
    Keyboard
    ABS M1 Mechanical
    Mouse
    Logitech G9 Laser Mouse
    Internet Speed
    15/2 cable modem
    Other Info
    Windows and Linux enthusiast. Logitech G35 Headset.

Seleuceia

New Member
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 media...so, 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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1

Seleuceia

New Member
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1

Seleuceia

New Member
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1

marcw

New Member
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    windows 8.1
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    lenovo c540

AlbertvanHarten

New Member
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 Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Toshiba
    CPU
    Core i5, 2.1GHz
    Motherboard
    Integrated
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated
    Browser
    IE11
    Antivirus
    ESET

Edwin

Well-Known Member
VIP Member
Guru
Yeah..., this whole 'Embedded Key' thing has got to go!

Hey..., wouldn't it be great if you could buy cars with embedded keys, then when it's not running well you could just click on the 'Refresh' button on the dashboard and you're up and running again!!! :D :D :D
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 7 Home Premium
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    HP Pavillion

AlbertvanHarten

New Member
I do like those embedded keys :)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Toshiba
    CPU
    Core i5, 2.1GHz
    Motherboard
    Integrated
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated
    Browser
    IE11
    Antivirus
    ESET

alphanumeric

slightly off center
VIP Member
Guru
Gold Member
There are downfalls. If your PC came with a Core embedded key that's what gets installed by default. If I boot from my TechNet 8.0 ISO on my Laptop, Core gets installed. I don't get an option to enter a key. To get to Pro I have to use Add Features and enter a Pro key. My TechNet Retail keys are accepted but I do believe some people have had their Pro key rejected. Your supposed to use a Pro Pack key which is a key only with no install media. To go right to Pro I have to add a PID.txt file to my install media with a Pro key in it. On the plus side my TechNet 8.1 ISO ignores the 8.0 embedded key as it wants an 8.1 key to install. I get prompted to enter a key and I can go right to Pro without having to do the Add Features. I use a PID.txt file anyway as I customize my install media for each PC I own.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard
    Memory
    8GB 4GBx2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Geforce GT640 2 Gig DDR3 PCIe
    Sound Card
    VIA VT1708s High Definition Audio 8-channel Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    22" LG E2242 1080p and 2 19" I-INC AG191D
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024 - 1920x1080 - 1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD and 500 GB WD Blue SATA
    PSU
    Thermaltake TR 620
    Case
    Power Up Black ATX Mid-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Stock heatsink fan
    Keyboard
    Logitech Wireless K350 Wave
    Mouse
    Logitech M570 Trackball and T650 TouchPad
    Internet Speed
    80 Mbps Down 30 Mbps Up
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    HP DVD1040e Lightscribe - External USB2

avnguyen

New Member
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

Where or how do you get W8.1 ISO file that can install both core and pro?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Win8

alphanumeric

slightly off center
VIP Member
Guru
Gold Member
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

Where or how do you get W8.1 ISO file that can install both core and pro?

TechNet/MSDN ISO's are multi edition, Core and Pro. What gets installed depends on what key gets entered or detected on install. Read my above post. As far as I can tell Retail DVD's do the same thing. Your buying a Core or Pro key but the DVD can install both.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard
    Memory
    8GB 4GBx2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Geforce GT640 2 Gig DDR3 PCIe
    Sound Card
    VIA VT1708s High Definition Audio 8-channel Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    22" LG E2242 1080p and 2 19" I-INC AG191D
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024 - 1920x1080 - 1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD and 500 GB WD Blue SATA
    PSU
    Thermaltake TR 620
    Case
    Power Up Black ATX Mid-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Stock heatsink fan
    Keyboard
    Logitech Wireless K350 Wave
    Mouse
    Logitech M570 Trackball and T650 TouchPad
    Internet Speed
    80 Mbps Down 30 Mbps Up
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    HP DVD1040e Lightscribe - External USB2

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