I recently purchased a laptop with an oem windows 8 product key I am interested in a clean install of Windows 8.1. I do not have any original install media, only recovery disks, and the recovery disks perform a pre-programmed install which does not have the correct partition scheme that i need, and also install lots of programs that i do not want.

The common way to clean install Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8 key shown on websites is to use Microsoft's upgrade site to download the install media by starting the Windows 8 download first, pausing it, then starting the Windows 8.1 download. My Windows 8 OEM key is rejected with the message This product key cannot be used to install a retail version of Windows 8 . I have tried using the generic keys provided in numerous threads, but these are all rejected with the message We can't connect right now (research shows that this is due to a key problem and not a network problem, I have confirmed the network is fine.)

If I was to obtain the 8.1 install media, am I right in thinking that I could install using the dummy key and later legitimately activate with my Win8 OEM key? What should be the installation media for windows 8? A clean Win8 upgraded through to 8.1 is still preferable to the wrongly-partitioned OEM version.

Is this possible? If it's not possible are the manufacturers under obligation to provide me with clean installation disks on request?

Best Answer

I was successfully able to change licenses by first installing a retail version At the end of this article you will also find a video tutorial on how to do all of this if you do not want to read all of the below.


Windows 8 oem machines no longer include a coa sticker or label on the bottom of your laptop with your serial number If you want to re-install windows and your recovery disk can't be accessed or you forget to create recovery discs it's a hard process

Here are the reasons people want to clean install Windows 8.1.

  1. Some people believe a clean install is better than an upgrade from Windows 8

  2. Some people forget to backup a recovery disc and the recovery on the hard drive doesn't work This could be for a variety of reasons (mine was a new SSD installation, while others have reported wiping their drives or recovery partitions becoming inactive or corrupt)

  3. Guaranteed removal of bloatwareeven if you were to obtain recovery discs people don't like all the add on applications that oems supply with their

  4. Saving the $$$ involved in obtaining recovery discs from the manufacturer (such as Toshiba who thought it was ok to charge me $68 US to ship me recovery discs—with bloatware)

Here is the process

First, find yourself a retail copy of Windows 8.1 ISO. Get the version that corresponds with what came with your laptop (e.g. Professional 64bit). You can download from My Digital Life forums or even find one as a torrent or download directly from Microsoft if you happen to also have a valid retail serial number or dev account. (Remember, downloading a Microsoft ISO is NOT illegal as long as you are installing it with a legal license)

I recommend to check the SHA-1 hash to make sure the ISO files are original if downloading from torrents, else you may end up with a tampered OS with backdoors which will be nearly impossible to remove (implementing backdoors on a OS install disc allows to bypass any security measure of the OS and thus make them completely undetectable). You can check the official SHA-1 hashes directly from Microsoft's MSDN website , then just click on Details on the entry that corresponds to the ISO you downloaded to show the hash.

Next, install the iso by burning it to a dvd and booting from the dvd. You may have to change your bios settings to allow dvd booting as the first boot device

Install Windows 8.1 Retail with a generic key. Microsoft has now released LEGAL generic keys used for the sole purpose of installing Windows 8.1 as an INACTIVATED copy.

Generic keys can be found by simply searching

windows 8.1 [version] [32 or 64 bit] generic key

After the installation is complete open a command prompt To do this right click on the Windows button and click Command Prompt (Admin) .

In the window type: slmgr /upk

This will uninstall the product key (which is generic and inactivated anyway).

Once this is done, use a program like RW Everything to extract the key that is embedded in the bios of your OEM machine. Once you open it click on the acpi button and then click on the msdm tab Your key will appear at the end of the window as the value for your key data

Open an elevated command prompt again and type: slui 3

This will open up a gui request for your product key Paste the key from RW Everything .

You're done

You'll notice that you're now fully activated and all your windows updates will work

I have also made a simple tutorial video that explains how to do it all for those that want a more visual demonstration.