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Windows 8.1 OEM clean install

Posted on 2014-01-24
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Last Modified: 2014-01-31
I'm processing a bunch of Lenovo machines right now - we have to take them out of the box, update to 8.0 with included disks (takes hours and installs crap) - then we have to log in to the windows store to get 8.1 installed.

Has anyone found a way to use a clean windows 8.1 install, but still have it use the 8 Key that is part of the BIOS?  I tried with an 8.1 disk I have from corp license but it would not activate without the key being entered.

Thanks
Erik
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Question by:erikwhiteway
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by:aadih
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I believe you need a Windows 8.1 key to install it.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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If you have a volume license disk, you are legally entitled to build a master image from that disk and deploy it to all these systems PROVIDED your volume license is for the same version of Windows, using the Volume License Key.  

See:
Reimaging Rights - http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/briefs/reimaging.aspx

Microsoft further makes all deployment tools FREE to you (assuming you have a Windows Server) so there is no additional software you need to buy.
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by:erikwhiteway
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yes - but it's my machines with OEM licenses - that I want to re-install.  I used to do it with win 7 all the time.  I just needed an OEM disk.

What I'm looking for if anyone has an OEM install disk that works with Lenovo's Keys, or if the standard OEM would work (I could order that).
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by:Lee W, MVP
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FORGET THE KEYS.  Microsoft doesn't care about keys.  They care about you being appropriately licensed.  Did the machine come with Windows 8?  Then you can build an image and deploy it with your VL media and key.  KEYS are NOT licenses.  Keys are keys.  You show a bunch of keys in an audit, MS won't care - they want to see license DOCUMENTS, not keys.
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McKnife earned 500 total points
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What you can and may do: Install 8.1 pro (if it's pro you are talking about) with a key from here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx and later change it to an 8.1 key that you own, works without problems, I did that many times. To extract that keys from the BIOS, some tool will be needed, I guess. Look at http://rweverything.com/ and this link explaining: http://www.nextofwindows.com/how-to-retrieve-windows-8-oem-product-key-from-bios/
Problem is: that tool needs an OS to run. I wonder if it will run from windows PE. Will try soon.
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by:aadih
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Things are real easy with a windows a 8.1 key. [E]rikwhiteway has only a Windows 8 key, hence the question.
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by:McKnife
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Oh yes? I understand he has a bunch of laptops each with a key inside the BIOS (which will be different for each machine).
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by:erikwhiteway
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Here is the point - I want to make an install script for installing OEM windows 8.1 Pro on machines that have the Key in Bios (8 and 8.1 use the same key from what I can see).

I do not want to have to do anything with regards to activation - it's supposed to be automatic if you use the right version of windows.  For 8.0 I could extract the install disk from the Lenovo recovery disks, but I have not received any 8.1 recovery disks yet - so that is why I am asking.

Looks like the BIOS key storage is not a MS standard, but up to each vendor, so I'm guessing that I need to use a Lenovo modified installer to get it to work.

I have a contact deep in Lenovo system division, I'll see if I can find it and ask him.  Really should not be this hard!
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by:Lee W, MVP
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And you really shouldn't be installing OEM copies on machines.  VL copies activate automatically and can be customized... THAT'S what you should be using...
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by:erikwhiteway
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Let me be clear on this -

The machines I'm dealing with DO NOT HAVE VOLUME licenses.

AND  VL copies DO NOT activate on their own!  You can run a KEY server - but that is in a DOMAIN (KMS key)

You have to enter a VL key - and MS now tracks EACH time a VL key is used to activate a machine. (MKS key) Even if you activate the same machine 10 times - it will record as 10 activations.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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Let me clear on this -

The machines you're dealing with DO NOT NEED volume licenses *IF* you have AT LEAST ONE already of the equivalent version of Windows that came with the system.  I really don't think you'd have responded with the wording of your last post if you had reviewed the 3 page document I posted earlier on re-imaging rights.

I deploy windows on PLENTY of machines and the appropriate setup file, they DO automatically activate (I've forgotten if it's instant or in 3 days, but they DO activate).

You're making this FAR harder than it has to be when a little reading could make your life so much simpler.
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by:erikwhiteway
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"Reimaging is the copying of software onto multiple devices from one standard image. Reimaging rights are granted to all Microsoft Volume Licensing customers."

"You must purchase at least one license of the Microsoft software that you want to reimage under your Open License authorization number or Microsoft Open Value or Microsoft Open Value Subscription Agreement number. This purchase is required to obtain the media and necessary Volume Licensing Keys (VLK[s])."

The customers ARE NOT Volume license customers.

If they were I  could use my corp images - but these are small customers that use OEM/FPP - so VL imaging is not an option. (and believe me, I really wish it was in regard to Office Home and Business)
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by:Lee W, MVP
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Your question initially includes:
I tried with an 8.1 disk I have from corp license but it would not activate without the key being entered.

This says they ARE VL customers to me if you have a corporate license.

Now you say:

The customers ARE NOT Volume license customers.

In which case what you tried before seems to likely have been a violation of the license agreement attached to the corporate license.  

But that aside, if they don't have a corporate (volume) license, then you CAN'T RE-IMAGE THEM.  So the question needs to end here.  You can back them up and restore them to the config they shipped with... but that's it - making this EASIER is a licensed capability and the end user doesn't have it.

Or make your life and the customer's life easier and buy a single copy - if they already have a VL agreement, add on one Win8 license.  If they don't, get them one for the cheapest MS product you can get 5 copies of and then throw in a copy of Win8.  Then you can update the image and reload using a VL, the licensed way.
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by:McKnife
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I don't see, why the question needs to end here.
He plans to use the licenses that shipped with the machines, but skip 8.0 (plus all that gets installed by Lenovo) and go straight to 8.1.
I showed a way: use rweverything to read out the key from each machine (yes, that would indeed require to boot any machine with a 32-bit Win PE or 32 bit Windows setup USB drive and start rweverything from there). Then install 8.1 using the generic, unactivatable key that I linked before to install 8.1. When installed, change the key to those keys you extracted before and activate. There is no other way to use those BIOS keys but this one.
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by:erikwhiteway
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I'm still waiting to find out if I can get a Lenovo OEM disk that will auto activate - but for now, I can install 8.1 with a VL disk, and using the portable version of RWeverything - I can get the machine's code from BIOS, cut and paste it in and the system seems to activate just fine.

It's still an extra manual step - but will work for now.  I'll update if I get anything from Lenovo on how to auto activate.
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