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Installing Windows 8 pro on a built PC

While browsing the microsoft store to look for a digital delivery windows 8 license, I could only find what I assume is the "upgrade version", since it has the following note:

"To install Windows 8 Pro upgrade, customers must be running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7"

As I'm going to build a brand new PC and I assume that isn't a valid license, which kind of license would I need?
Is there a regular "retail" license on the microsoft store?


If you're building your own PC you'll need to look for retail versions. Retail versions are versions you need to obtain through a local computer store and can't be obtained from Microsoft under the form of an upgrade. As SLaks mentions, these are now called the System Builder versions but might also be called Retail as some distributors might retain the old style of naming Windows editions.

At retail, Windows 8 will be available in two primary versions — Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro — as well as Windows 8 Enterprise for large organizations. — Source: Windows 8 Arrives


You will require a full license if you're building from scratch and do not have a valid windows license you can use the upgrade version on. I've linked to amazon, where I found the following versions:

64-bit System Builder ~ USD$100.

Professional version 64-bit System Builder ~ USD$140.

32-bit System Builder ~ USD$100.

If you have a valid Windows XP through 7, you could install that and then the upgrade version over it. Personally, I'd just go with a fresh install of the full Windows 8 to avoid bugs, for my own sanity/peace of mind.


You can always buy the upgrade on your current pc and install it cleanly on the new pc. The upgrade version works for clean installs.

  • No; the license key won't work. – SLaks Oct 28 '12 at 15:30
  • Do you have a source for that? The page he linked explicitly mentions To install Windows 8 Pro upgrade, customers must be running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.. – Tamara Wijsman Oct 28 '12 at 15:31
  • 1
    Yes it will. I just did this yesterday. The windows 8 disk (or iso) has a custom (advanced) option that allows for clean installs. – tr4656 Oct 28 '12 at 15:31
  • This is rather confusing: I have seen another question that claims a previous version has to be installed in order for the upgrade version to work? – Razor Oct 28 '12 at 15:33
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    [Article] (winsupersite.com/article/windows8/…) | backing up what I say. – tr4656 Oct 28 '12 at 15:37

You need the Windows 8 System Builder license.


A possible workaround can be:

  1. Run the Upgrade Assistant on a friend's PC (any other Windows machine).
  2. It will give an option to install from media.
  3. Make a bootable USB/DVD.
  4. Use this on your new machine.

I think this should work.

  • 1
    This won't work, because the activation will yield invalid on the second computer because the first computer was used for the upgrade and the activation. You can't magically use another computer to fake an upgrade... – Tamara Wijsman Oct 28 '12 at 15:37
  • But I haven't used it on the other computer right? – pratnala Oct 28 '12 at 15:38
  • You did use it, because you've used the other computer to upgrade it so it will know the Windows 7 --> Windows 8 upgrade happened on that computer and the activation information (as well as drivers and what not, making it more impossible) will all be based on that friend's PC. Hence, when you boot it on your own PC it will not be able to boot and will also not be able to activate. You also need a valid Windows 7 license to pull this off, so you could as well install Windows 7 and upgrade from that on your own computer instead... – Tamara Wijsman Oct 28 '12 at 15:41
  • So even if I don't start actually start the upgrade process on the other PC, it won't work? – pratnala Oct 28 '12 at 15:48

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