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I was helping a friend of mine who had a blank password on his Windows 8.1 computer. He recently got an update and since this update he is unable to login to his computer. His computer was not connected to a Microsoft Live account. I tried the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor but this somehow did not work. So I went to using CHNTPW on a Live Ubuntu USB (something I have successfully done in the past). "Trying Ubuntu" wouldn't take me to a GUI(which was strange), so I decided to install it and then later uninstall Ubuntu. Well somehow during installing Ubuntu (which never successfully installed) the paritions somehow got messed up and there isn't a windows parition anymore.

I do have a back up of all the files. My only option is to re-install Windows 8.1. I can't find a product key sticker on the computer and it's a little late for the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder. I have heard from some places that the Windows 8 Product Key is in the BIOS, is this true? Would it have been deleted?

My question is, after installing Windows 8.1 from an ISO, what are my options? How can I register this computer without purchasing another product key?

  • Which version of Windows came with the PC? 8 or 8.1? – Daniel B Jul 15 '14 at 16:00
  • @DanielB I believe the computer came with Windows 8 but I guess he updated to Windows 8.1 at some point – user151324 Jul 15 '14 at 16:09
  • The installation disk will automatically detect the license. There is already a question about Windows 8.1 license keys and an answer that explains how Windows 8.x license keys are embedded in the firmware of OEM devices. – Ramhound Jul 15 '14 at 17:49
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I suggest creating a bootable USB or modifying your disk image to perform the below steps to "bypass" the requirement for a product key.

Within the root structure of the CD navigate to the sources folder.

Create a new file named ei.cfg with the below contents.

[EditionID]
Professional
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Now when running the Windows 8 setup it will not ask for the product key.

Above CFG switches/options:

  • If you want the setup to ask which edition you want install without entering the product key, leave the [EditionID] blank. I have entered Professional there for you.
  • You can also set [VL] (Volume Licensing) to 1 (for true) and [Channel] to OEM/Retail
  • Ok I will try this, my plan is to make a bootable USB by using an ISO and Rufus, but I am still looking for a Windows 8 ISO... – user151324 Jul 15 '14 at 16:12
  • See here: getintopc.com/softwares/operating-systems/… - Choose 32/64bit version as per your requirement. – Samuel Nicholson Jul 15 '14 at 16:21
  • It will allow you to get Windows installed but will still ask you to activate at some point, discussion on how to bypass that can't be mentioned on Stack Exchange, piracy etc... – Samuel Nicholson Jul 15 '14 at 16:23
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Favorites to the rescue. Here’s how to get the key with Linux (which need not be installed).

Basically:

sudo hd /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM

...or any other hexdump-like tool. Alternatively, even cat should do. Alternatively, there are a few tools claiming to do the same on Windows (no problem, since you’ll install with a KMS key), but I cannot verify that.

Windows 8.1 Setup unfortunately will not use Windows 8 keys, neither from an embedded license nor from user input. Instead, install using a KMS key and change the key (Windows 8 keys are accepted there) before activating.

enter image description here

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You must purchase a new product key, but you may be able to retrieve it if it came with your friend's PC pre-installed. You may be able to give your friend's PC barcode to the manufacturer, and they MAY be able to retrieve your code. This is highly unlikely.

I have heard that Microsoft gives a few trial codes for free, but I can't approve that that is true.

You can generate another code, but it is illegal to create generate codes for things you have not purchased. Also, 2/3 of the codes you will get won't work.

  • This is simply wrong. Not only can the key be extracted, it is also automatically detected by Windows Setup (within limits). – Daniel B Jul 15 '14 at 15:59
  • Ignore what I have said. There are better answers above, and I was a PC newbie at the time. – EACreator1 Apr 17 '15 at 0:50

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