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Short version:

I have Windows 8.1 Enterprise Edition installed and need to activate it, but I only have a legal consumer-version license key. Can I "downgrade" the installed OS to the proper version so that I can Activate?

Background:

I have a legal license for Windows 8 64bit "Full Version" (that's what the NewEgg receipt from 2012 says). The SSD I had that OS installed on has apparently died and I haven't been able to boot into or perform any repair on the drive, so I've performed a fresh install on a spare HDD. However, the installer I downloaded onto a USB drive from Microsoft wouldn't work, so I borrowed an install DVD from a friend, which installed perfectly fine. However, now I have installed copy of Windows 8.1 Enterprise Edition, and a consumer product key, so I can't Activate Windows.

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    No; you cannot switch from Enterprise to Professional/Core; if you have the key then you have the capability to download a 8.1 ISO yourself – Ramhound Mar 6 '15 at 15:48
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    it works with a hack. See my answer. – magicandre1981 Mar 6 '15 at 16:55
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Use the tool UpDown8, to change some registry values. When you now run the Setup.exe from a running Windows and select "Upgrade" (repair Install/Inplace Upgrade) the Enterprise is downgraded to the Edition you want.

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  • This then allows a true legitimate up/downgrade, using the 'proper', paid-for alternative key? [I'm assuming the answer is 'yes', but just for absolute clarification…] – Tetsujin Mar 6 '15 at 19:17
  • this works. I did it under Windows 7 to allow the Upgrade from RC Ultimate to RTM in Home Premium SKU. – magicandre1981 Mar 7 '15 at 6:10
  • I wasn't able to get this to actually work. I ran it, then setup.exe off the original Enterprise disc, no luck. Then tried it with a correctly-licensed disc and received an error "this upgrade path is invalid", then successfully installed completely fresh from that disc. – Dave Mar 12 '15 at 23:31
  • in the enterprise you have to run the tool, change the edition, now use the normal Windows 8.1 DVD and here run setup.exe – magicandre1981 Mar 13 '15 at 5:28

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