Two years ago I bought a laptop which came with Windows 8 already installed. Upgraded to 8.1 last year. The warranty expired a year ago.
I got a new hard drive recently and installed it today. Made a bootable USB with 8.1 (which did not require a product key) and started it up from that. Now the installer is supposed to read the product key from the BIOS according to most posts out there but it didn't, it just kept asking for a product key.
Now I hadn't expected this beforehand, so plugged my old hard disk (it still works) into an external dock and ran a program called ProduKey (still not sure how legitimate it is) on it, which gave me a product key for 'Windows 8.1 Single Language'. However installers for both Windows 8 and 8.1 refuse to accept this key, saying either that 'the version does not match' or that 'this Product Key cannot be used to install a retail version of Windows 8.'
I contacted my manufacturer and Microsoft as well and while the manufacturer suggested installing Windows 8 (which I cannot do without a product key, which I do not have) they didn't offer much else.
So my question(s):
Is there a way to get 8.1 to recognize my product key?
If it will work with 8, where do I find an installer that will set up on a USB without a product key?
If there is no viable answer to the above, what should I do now to get an activated version of Windows on my new hard disk without buying it again?