I am building a PC with no DVD, and want to put 8.1 on it.

I read the instructions on the MS site about downloading a setup program and putting in a license key and creating a USB stick. These instructions only say that windows 8 keys wont work, they don't say anything about OEM keys not working.

I bought an OEM edition from amazon.de as that was the most popularly sold edition and I assumed it was the standard. The page on Amazon didn't say that the edition was not compatible with the USB stick method of installation. (And it turned out to be in German, and I wanted to install it in English).

Of course the Setup Stick creator did not accept the OEM key. I considered temporarily hooking up a DVD drive just to install, but read that it is not the pro edition and I would have to upgrade to pro to install the english language pack, and I didn't want that. I just want native english, and would prefer not to pay for the pro features I don't need.

I think I need to ask you guys what edition I need.

tldr: Three Questions:

Some sites also sell a cheapish DSP/SB edition which sounds similar to the OEM, but will it work with the USB Stick Setup creator thing?

Which is the cheapest license I can buy that will allow me to create a USB install stick?

Does it matter which language license I buy? Or can I buy any language windows license, and simply create an English USB install stick with it?

  • There is only one type of Windows 8.1 which you can purchase from a retail location like Amazon and its a System Builder license. Any other license is an OEM license which you cannot be purchased by itself You can use any number of programs to make the disk you recieved and place it on a USB storage device. You already have the cheapest Windows 8.1 license anyways
    – Ramhound
    May 7, 2014 at 15:05
  • Well that is not quite true. 3 of the top 4 results for windows 8.1 on amazon.de are OEM editions that don't work with the MS tool for making USB sticks. I didn't want to use the disk I purchased to create a USB stick as it is in German. I just wanted to use the license key to create an English installable USB stick. I know I have the cheapest license, but it cannot be used with the MS USB installer creater tool thing. Edit:Check it out: amazon.de/s/…
    – Kurt
    May 7, 2014 at 15:33
  • I am speaking from what is actually sold by Microsoft. There is "System Builder" this is the only retail license for 8.1. Windows 8.0 had two types Upgrade and System Builder only System Builder allowed a installation without a previous version of Windows already being installed.
    – Ramhound
    May 7, 2014 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade to anyone on Windows 8... but, the keys are not cross compatible.

You can buy and edition of Windows that is fit for your purpose (OEM requires a new install/bought with hardware), and then simply run the following tool:


This will allow you to put all the installation files to the USB disk and install Windows from that USB stick.

As I said, I feel this is more of an invalid serial version problem rather than a license limitation.

Hope this helps!

  • Actually from amazon.de you can buy OEM windows. On most online sites the OEM version is the main one sold in Germany at least. I used the tool and the key didn't work. I then read online that OEM keys cannot be used to download ISOs or create USB install media.
    – Kurt
    May 7, 2014 at 14:42
  • @Kurt - Go for the System Builder licenses Professional or Core. This answer is otherwise technically correct.
    – Ramhound
    May 7, 2014 at 15:43

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