Last year I've installed a clean copy of Windows 8 (later upgraded to 8.1) on a new laptop. This process was challenging because the laptop included Windows 8 pre-installed (plus bloatware), and my Windows 8 ISO (which I bought before from a Windows 7 upgrade) rejected the serial key that came with the laptop. I had to find the official ISO compatible with my keys and OEM installation.

Now I need to migrate this Windows installation to another laptop. Basically moving the hard disk. Long time ago, I recall that there was a command I could run on Windows to set in a special way such that—upon the next boot—it will scan the hardware and re-configure drivers as needed.

Can I do the same with Windows 8.1? I can imagine that today it's a little more complicated (UEFI, signed Bios, etc). I'd like to avoid re-installing everything one more time.

  • I highly doubt it, but I'd be interested to find out if such a magic way exists... – elder elder Oct 7 '14 at 0:31
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    Yes; this is possible; it's not clear you want to do this though; you do it exactly how you did it always with Sysprep – Ramhound Oct 7 '14 at 1:36
  • @Ramhound: while using Sysprep, how does it solve the license problem? For example: I have laptop A with license X, and I run sysprep on it. I buy laptot B with license Y, replace the HD. What license will get windows in laptop B? the old form A? or the new one? Thanks – Sebastian Oct 9 '14 at 18:51
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    It doesn't matter because you can just simply change the key before you activate the installation. – Ramhound Oct 9 '14 at 19:31
  • Thanks. So far, sysprep looks like the best option. I'll wait for more comments, but if you edit your comment as an answer (some official links to sysprep+win8 would be awesome.. only if it's not too much to ask), that'll be the accepted answer ;) Thanks, – Sebastian Oct 10 '14 at 20:29

You can achieve what you want using sysprep. If the Windows versions are the same (both Home or Pro), you can backup the license information from the newer one and restore it to the older one.

Sysprep info: http://www.smattie.com/2013/12/16/how-to-sysprep-with-windows-8-1/

License info: http://tipsandtricksforum.com/thread-163.html

  • Sysprep was already mentioned in comments. You need to "add value" to expand that into an answer. Link-only answers are a problem because they have no value if the link breaks or is unavailable. Please include the essential information within your answer and use the links just for attribution and further reading. Thanks. – fixer1234 Jan 4 '16 at 7:06

You really can't do that with Windows due to how the registry and the drivers integrate with each other. This has nothing to do with the authorization process, and has always been an issue going back long before Windows 8.1. There is also the new UEFI BIOS which can get in the way because Windows integrates with it unlike Windows ever did before. Laptops are also "special" machines, and unlike desktops, have all kinds of additional drivers needed for operation. This can get sticky even among the same brand.

Outside of that, there is also an OEM license for machines. This has been given to you by the laptop manufacturer and the license key is stamped on the bottom. You would need to use the same license key and this is in violation of the license agreement.

Your best bet, since this is a new machine, is to perform a fresh install since everything is new. When configuring Windows 8.1, it will prompt you to install any applications from the Windows Store that you use already, and your favorites and other folders will populate as the data is stored up on the SkyDrive (now known as the OneDrive).

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    Sure you can; SysPrep will allow him to do exactly that. – Ramhound Oct 9 '14 at 19:32
  • Sure it will work and I've used it before, however, it has to be the same hardware, otherwise the user is going to have a mess. This is a new laptop. The user will receive a new license and should use that to setup the machine. It's also cleaner that way too. – Retired_admin Oct 9 '14 at 20:21
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    No; it does not have to be the same hardware I recently changed to entirely different hardware and have two installations that are clones running on two different computers and licenses – Ramhound Oct 10 '14 at 10:17

Since the Windows reject they key, then the version that you want to install is not the same as the one came pre-installed.

You're trying to install Windows 8 from an ISO contains an upgrade from Windows 7 to 8, and this version does not accept the standard Windows 8 product key, because it has Windows 7 based product key (it means you need to have Windows 7 installed first and then do the upgrade process).

So to solve your problem, you need to use Upgrade Windows with only a product key and use your Windows 8 Product Key that came with your laptop and Download the Windows 8 ISO from Microsoft to download and burn. OR you can use the same product key and download the Windows 8.1 same way. It's upon you on which you prefer. The product key will work on both options. Just make sure to choose ISO File option during the upgrade process.

Visit this link to see how to do it.

About the command that scan hardware and reconfigure the drivers, I don't know which way you used, I believe that it's not necessary on Windows 8, as you can just update the drivers using the Windows update method and Windows will do the rest.

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    Windows 8.1 does not have "upgrade only" keys. All keys outside of OEM keys can be used for both upgrading a previous installation or installing windows fresh. – Ramhound Oct 9 '14 at 19:32
  • see this page : windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/why-activate-windows – iSR5 Oct 9 '14 at 20:45
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    You need to explain why one would visit that website,,, – Ramhound Oct 9 '14 at 22:35
  • The previous page will explain my answered above about upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8, which is why the gentleman can't use his key on the Windows installer. I've never mentioned the Upgrading from Windows 8 to 8.1, as we all know it's free and we can use the same key on both as I mentioned before. – iSR5 Oct 10 '14 at 1:08
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    Actually you can't use an 8 key to install 8.1 I am well aware about 8 and 8.1 I don't need education and there is only on type of 8.1 license (system builder) – Ramhound Oct 10 '14 at 10:16

Yes you can, but not with OEM versions of Windows. You will need system builder editions and it will fail activation. You will need to activate via Phone call.

Regarding UEFI, you will need to set settings the same. If your original windows installation is UEFI, then the new laptop needs to support uefi. It is was old BIOS, then you need to set new laptop for old bios (if it supports it).

Sysprep does not need to run. Unlike older versions of Windows, since Windows 8 the installation can be migrated to completely different hardware (i. Intel to AMD) and it will adapt without any issues. You will need to install drivers for the new computer and, as I said before, activation will fail. You will need to activate via phone.

OEM licences are not transferable and thus, cannot be used to activate Windows 8 on a different computer. Not even on the same computer with a different (replaced) motherboard.

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