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Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licenses?

Postby One Fan To Another » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:03 pm

I own a retail copy of Windows 8.1. I have MANY computers that I work on (friends, family, co-workers, etc). Some of those computers came with OEM licences for Windows 8. If I want to format a computer all together am I able to use my personal retail DVD copy of Windows 8.1 to do the install and then simply use the original computer's OEM licence to activate the now independent copy of Windows?

I ask because while there is the generic "clear everything back to when I first got the computer" option within OEM versions of Windows 8, which is like formatting but keeps all bloatware, licenses, etc, what if I want to slap in a new hard drive and wish to use my DVD of Windows for ease of use?

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Re: Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licen

Postby Synchronicity » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:23 pm

I can't say definitely as I haven't tried that specific scenario, but I do know I had to jump through a bunch of hoops because I have a W8 upgrade key that will only work with the ISO that I download straight from Microsoft's upgrade utility and nothing else. I can't even flash straight to W8.1, it has to be 8.0 and then update from there. So I'm going to assume Microsoft has beefed up its activation bullshit to make what you want to do impossible.
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Re: Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licen

Postby One Fan To Another » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:41 pm

Well, one thing I do know is that for Windows 8 Microsoft eliminated the 'one use' policy it had for OEM copies of the software. Before, if you bought an OEM copy of Windows you could only activate it once and that was it. With Windows 8 if you buy an OEM copy, like, from NewEgg or where ever, you can install it, format it, then install it again, over and over - just like with a retail copy. The only reason to buy the retail copy at all is simply for the fancy packaging (if that's really a reason).

Either way, I'm going to make the attempt right now and see how it goes.

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Re: Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licen

Postby One Fan To Another » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:32 am

Well, the answer to the OP is, "Yes, yes you can."

You need to download a tiny program called "Windows 8 Product Key Finder" which makes your OEM Windows 8 key come up, since MS stopped applying a product key label on the bottom of laptops sold with Windows when Win8 came out. After you've formatted the old HDD, or installed a new HDD/SSD, install the retail Win8.1 using the product key that comes with the copy of the Windows 8/8.1 DVD that you bought at retail. After the installation is done install Windows 8 Product Key Finder and get your old product key, which is hard coded into the BIOS of the laptop (apparently). Go to the 'activate windows' page in Windows and slap in your OEM key. Done.

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Re: Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licen

Postby Egg » Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:17 pm

One Fan To Another wrote:Well, one thing I do know is that for Windows 8 Microsoft eliminated the 'one use' policy it had for OEM copies of the software. Before, if you bought an OEM copy of Windows you could only activate it once and that was it. With Windows 8 if you buy an OEM copy, like, from NewEgg or where ever, you can install it, format it, then install it again, over and over - just like with a retail copy. The only reason to buy the retail copy at all is simply for the fancy packaging (if that's really a reason).

Not sure what you're referring to here. I've reinstalled OEM copies countless times.

One Fan To Another wrote:since MS stopped applying a product key label on the bottom of laptops sold with Windows when Win8 came out.

That sounds completely moronic, and only makes things more difficult for the user. Sounds like most of the key features in Windows 8. They should only do away with the sticker if the Installer is able to pull the product key from the BIOS automatically.

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Re: Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licen

Postby ZeroGuardian » Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:24 pm

There is no need to use software to get the Key. It is visually available in the BIOS if it is hard coded.

They did this to prevent people from being able to steal and/or transport Key Certificates from one computer to another.

There should be instructions with the laptop that tells you how to pull up the CD-Key in the BIOS.
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Re: Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licen

Postby One Fan To Another » Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:25 pm

Sorry, for not being clear. Yes, you can get the code from the BIOS. That's not a problem. The little program thingy that shows you the key is just an easy way to stay within windows to copy and past the key. The "program" is only a few kb.

As for the one use OEM thing: If the system stays the same then there is no problem. Previously, you could go to an online retailer and buy either a cheaper OEM copy of, say, Windows Vista or spend more and buy the retail copy of Vista. With the OEM copy the license is locked to the computer it gets activated to. You can re-install it on that system over and over if you're formatting, but you have to actually have the DVD, which you do not have if you buy a laptop with OEM Windows on the system. With the retail version as long as you de-activate the license on the old system you can transfer it over any other system at any time as many times as you want. Starting with Windows 8 MS made the OEM copies of Windows act exactly the same as the retail copies of Windows; as long as you de-activate the license on one system you can use it on another over and over and over, making the purchase of retail copies of Windows, as opposed to OEM copies, a waste of money (that's good for consumers). MS stopped putting the labels with the licenses on the bottom of the laptops for the reason Zero gave - to reduce rates of license key theft. That's not a 'moronic' thing to do.

If this information in the previous paragraph seems incorrect keep in mind that I got it from the Microsoft forums; it's not from personal experience, per se (the first paragraph I do know from personal experience).

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Re: Can I use My Windows 8.1 DVD For Installs With OEM Licen

Postby hardwareguy » Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:55 pm

This is actually more of a pain in the ass than it should be for two reasons:

1: The key is hidden, you can't just go into the BIOS on most systems to get the code, you have to use a program to read it.

2: The Windows 8.1 installer rejects Windows 8 keys and vice versa. Note I'm being very specific...the installer rejects it. This is very important as it allows us to feed the proper key in later if we feed the installer a generic key. The generic key is for installation only and cannot be activated. Think of it as a trial license key.

But what do you do if the disk is crashed and you can't use something like Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder? Don't despair! The key IS in the firmware, we just need a different program. My go to is RW Everything.

So, from a new HDD/SSD to a working 8.1 system, here's what you do:

Obtain a generic key for your specific Windows 8.1 edition

Standard: 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT
Professional: XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB
Enterprise: MNDGV-M6PKV-DV4DR-CYY8X-2YRXH

Now that you have a generic key to make the installer happy, take your Win 8.1 DVD or flash stick and install Windows as normal. Note that it is unactivated and cannot activate.

If you haven't recovered your System Locked Preinstallation (SLP) key already, you can now use RW Everything to retrieve it. Launch the program and click on the ACPI button and then click the MSDM tab. Your 25 character product key will be in there under "Data".

Copy this key to the clipboard.

Open an administrative command prompt and type in slmgr /ipk <product key> and then press Enter. (where <product key> is your 25 character SLP key without the angle brackets)

Reboot your PC.

Go into the System control panel. Most systems auto activate, if yours has not, use phone activation to complete the process.

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