I have an Dell Inspiron that came with Windows 8 preinstalled and I have my Windows 8 OEM key stored in the BIOS not on the hard drive. I upgraded to Windows 10 from 8.1 recently but I want to do a clean install (use a windows 10 original ISO and completely wipe my hard drive). When I tried this a year ago with Windows 8.1, it didn't recognize my Windows 8 OEM key and I had to install Windows 8 then upgrade to 8.1, then again upgrade to Windows 10 recently.

Will the Windows 10 installation program recognize my Windows 8 OEM key? Or will I be forced to install, upgrade, upgrade again and clean?

  • You can only use a Windows 10 license key to install Windows 10. The installer will not accept anything else. You should first upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8 from within Windows, then from then on, you can install Windows 10 without a license key and the installation will automatically activate. – Ramhound Aug 22 '15 at 16:01
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    i already upgraded to Windows 10 but the install asks me for the product key so i need to install W8 then W8.1 then W10 which in my opinion is the most retarded thing microsoft ever thought of. – Pinte Laurentiu Aug 23 '15 at 8:40
  • You can skip entering a product key provided you did the upgrade to Windows 10 at least once on the machine. – Ramhound Aug 23 '15 at 14:23

Let us start from when your PC has factory installed OEM Windows 8.

For Windows 8.1 :

  • If you have upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, its fine.
  • If you want a clean install, use "Windows 8.1 Update 1" OEM installation media of SIMILAR EDITION as of your original Windows 8, it should accept your Windows 8 key retrieved from BIOS.

    • If not, install using generic key for Windows 8.1 from Microsoft website, then activate later from Windows Settings (Online or By Phone).
  • Any other options will not work.

For Windows 10 :

  • If you upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, all good.

  • If you want a clean install, you MUST upgrade to Windows 10 at least one, then clean install using SIMILAR EDITION OEM installation media, it should not ask for any key.

    • Even if it does ask for key, use generic key and activate later from Windows Settings (Online or By Phone).
  • If you never have upgraded to Windows 10, there is no way to clean install Windows 10 using Windows 8 key, at least as of now.

For more details, for these links :



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I just did it without downloading or updating Windows 8. Had to replace hard drive on HP desktop with Windows 8.0. No recovery disks or C0A. Follow instructions per this link: Clean install Windows 10 without product key

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I do not think it will upgrade.

Based on the system requirements for upgrading:

Latest OS:

Make sure you are running the latest version of either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.

That seems pretty clear cut that you need to upgrade to 8.1. So install 8 -> upgrade to 8.1 -> upgrade to 10

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It seems that I need to install Windows 8 then Windows 8.1 then Windows 10 then clean the mess after W8 and W8.1 because the install won't recognize my product key...

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  • What is the point of doing a clean install if you install Windows 8, it would already be a clean install, besides you can simply choose not to keep anything and that would be a clean install also. This seems more like a comment then an answer to your question. – Ramhound Aug 23 '15 at 14:21
  • Ramhound clean as in using cmd to delete the Windows.old folder ! – Pinte Laurentiu Aug 26 '15 at 8:39

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