Is it possible to use the Windows 8.1 RTM Build from MSDN with an existing Windows 8.0 key?

I updated my laptop using one of our MSDN keys, and thought it would be possible to change back to the 8.0 key in the system control. But when I tried to change the key back to Windows 8.0, Windows rejected the key.

The Windows 8.0 key is an upgrade key, maybe this is relevant.

  • there seems to be a huge fuss about this issue around the internet. I can't come forth with a definitive answer, but surely someone more enlightened will for sure :) Sep 25, 2013 at 8:31
  • @Ramhound - I have clarified it.
    – Cellcon
    Sep 25, 2013 at 10:33

1 Answer 1


Is it possible to use the Windows 8.1 RTM Build from MSDN with an existing 8.0 Key?

It is indeed possible but you have to use one of the generic Windows 8.1 license keys below to install Windows 8.1 ( i.e. upgrade Windows 8.0 with the installation media ). The Windows 8.1 installer from the ISO does not accept Windows 8 keys. You need to install the system with a generic key and then enter your Windows 8 key after installing.

Core: 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT


Note to moderators: these are not usable Windows keys. They are embedded in Windows itself as a placeholder default key and do not let you activate.

If you install the update through the Windows Store this isn't required. If you have Windows 8 Professional with Media Center you can also skip the step of having to basically downgrade to Windows 8 Professional then back to Windows 8.1 Professional With Media Center.

In order to do this I was force to use a generic license key which are stored on the Windows 8.1 installation media. Once the installation was done I was able to use slmgr.vbs to change my product key to a Windows 8.0 Upgrade license. I was running Windows 8 Professional so I did that by running the following two commands.

slmgr -cpky


Once you have performed this command you should restart your computer. Once the machine has been restarted you can attempt to activate Windows and when prompted provide your Windows 8 license key.

The quoted text above assumes you installed Windows 8.1 using a MSDN Windows 8.1 key, but the process still works, even if you installed Windows 8.1 with the generic key. All you do is remove the key using slmgr -cpky, restart the machine, and attempt to activate the installation and when prompted provide your actual Windows 8 license key.

  • You wrote "but you have to use the MSDN Windows 8.1 key to install Windows 8.1" and that is just what I did. But I should have used the generic key for the Installation, because I cannot Change the MSDN Key to the generic one, right?
    – Cellcon
    Sep 25, 2013 at 11:30
  • I now changed the Product Key to the generic one by using slmgr.vbs. Windows recognizes, it cannot be activated, but the Windows 8.0 key still does not work.
    – Cellcon
    Sep 25, 2013 at 11:38
  • That's how it Looks like. Windows 8.0 Keys from MSDN are working (at least after using slmgr to set the generic key before trying the 8.0 one).
    – Cellcon
    Sep 25, 2013 at 11:59
  • The generic keys are stored on the Installation media and - in my opinion - not secret at all. They are used by the installer, if you skip the key input (if possible) while Setup is running. I was able to Change the MSDN 8.1 key to a MSDN 8.0 Key. But I still want to use the Windows 8.0 Update Key.
    – Cellcon
    Sep 25, 2013 at 12:15
  • I will try to get more information about this and will post my results.
    – Cellcon
    Sep 25, 2013 at 12:35

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