taking image of Windows 8 OEM when key is embedded in BIOS

roy_batty
roy_batty used Ask the Experts™
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I have 4 new identical Dell PCs. The were supposed to come with Windows 8.1 pre-installed but with downgrade rights to Windows 7.

What we actually got was 4 PCs with Windows 7. The Windows 8 install media was included.

So I did a fresh install of Windows 8 onto one PC. I was not asked for a licence key at any point so I presume this is because the licence key that was embedded in the BIOS was used automatically.

I would now like to build up this one PC and take an image using Acronis. Will I then have any problems loading this image onto the other 3 PCs. Will each of those machines use the licence key embedded in their respective BIOSs.
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Commented:
You are correct in your thinking as the licence it taken care of in the bios. You can use Belarc Advisor to show you the licence for backup or if you want to do a clean installation of Windows 10 later
Business Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
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Commented:
You can make a backup of a Windows 8.1 computer to allow recovery to the same computer. But I am pretty sure you will run into problems trying to restore this image to a different Windows 8.1 computer. It will not match the BIOS.
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
They are identical machines and you are using an image of the OEM installation so they will all pick up the BIOS key OK - however - unless you're cloning them from Dell's OEM WIM (No, you don't have this -  this is the image Dell use to clone their OEMs -  you have a reinstallation DVD) the activation process won't be triggered. Also you will end up with identical SIDs which will cause you future problems unless you Sysprep them.  You could force activate the clones but you're main issue is they will already think they are activated on slightly different hardware - (in addition to different embedded keys they have different CPU and BIOS serials).

Forget Belarc - it doesn't see the embedded keys
I would run the sysprep command before you do the cloning....
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
Commented:
"... I would now like to build up this one PC and take an image using Acronis. Will I then have any problems loading this image onto the other 3 PCs. "  ==>  Well ... Yes and No :-)

There won't be any problem with Windows, but if you're installing other activation-based software (e.g. Office) then that software will likely fail on the cloned PC's and require re-activation (which won't work unless the license allows more than one activation -- e.g. some versions of Office allow 2 or 3 installs).

"... Will each of those machines use the licence key embedded in their respective BIOSs. "  => The key isn't actually embedded in the BIOS.    There's an OEM string that identifies it as a (in this case) Dell PC, so the Dell OEM install works fine ... no key required.

As for the issue of duplicate SIDs mentioned above ... a myth :-)   There's no problem with multiple machines having the same SID.    http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2009/11/03/3291024.aspx
Regarding duplicate SIDs:
As the article referenced states, there may not be a problem with duplicate SIDs (with very rare exceptions) but there is still a need for the use of SysPrep.  The article was arguing for the use of SysPrep and against the (unnecessary) use of NewSID.
roy_battyDirector

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Commented:
Thanks for the advice here guys. I'm presuming that really if I want to do this properly I need to purchase a volume licence for each of these machines. That way I wont have these issues.

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