I did a bare-metal Windows 8.1 install on a laptop which had once already been fully activated and licensed as a Windows 8.1 machine.
For fun, I did the install offline with dism from a Windows 8.1 install.wim and ensured I used the appropriate Home index. I also manually created the ESP and
bcdboot /w: /s s: /f UEFI.
When I booted the machine, however, it prompted me for a key and simply would not activate based on whatever key it had generated for itself.
Frustrated, I gave up and installed 8.1 on top of it, this time using the installer made with Windows' 8.1 media creator. This activated correctly without me having to enter a key.
How can I manually force Windows Activation to query for the license based on current hardware without running the full Windows 8.1 installer?