Determine installed version of Windows 8

Got a non-booting hard disk that goes into repair loop.  [Insert long list of expletives here.]

So looking to determine whether it is standard Windows 8 or Windows 8 Professional installed on it.  (Could be 8.1 but the answer probably/should be the same).

If I install 8.1 on an 8 system it should recognize and authorize it without any problems?
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dbruntonAsked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
First, check the Windows license:
C:\Windows\System32\License.rtf

BUT...

1. The customer should know what they have.  
2. If the customer doesn't know what they have, you should explain that you can TRY to install what makes the most sense based on the labels on the computer, but make the customer sign off that you are not responsible... ELSE
3. Have the customer ok a new hard drive.  Do a disk copy from the old to the new using disk duplicating software or hardware (you now have a solid copy that you can work with and if you're wrong, you can copy again and try again.
4. Inform the customer that "repairing" a faulty install CAN be more expensive than simply reloading Windows.  If you can't diagnose probable causes and repair procedures in 30 minutes (MAYBE an hour) then you probably want to reload to make it more cost effective. Sell the customer a new hard drive (1TB Drives are $40) and turn the old one into an external drive to recover data (enclosures can be $20).

It's great to want to go above and beyond... but time is money - if you're charging the customer by the hour, then you're costing them a LOT of money troubleshooting something that can be re-installed faster (again, assuming you can't figure it out QUICKLY).  If you're charging a flat fee, then your reducing your fees every minute you work on it.  Charge $120 to repair and spend 8 hours troubleshooting and you're making $15 an.  That's not enough for anyone doing this as their main source of income when they are a sole proprietor.  If you're doing it for a business, there's probably a LOT more useful things you can be doing with 6 of those 8 hours than than troubleshooting something that should be re-installed.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I think it should . Windows 8 kept the licensing in the BIOS area and so when you reinstall Windows 8 or 8.1 on the same machine, it should license.

Windows 10 moved this concept to the Microsoft Licensing servers.
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Cal ThompsonAspiring Network EngineerCommented:
If you install 8.1 on a system that previously shipped with 8 the install should work.  As for the previously installed OS version, I would just try installing 8.1 standard and then upgrade to Professional if that is what you so desire.
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gilnovSystems AdministratorCommented:
New hard drive is the way to go but I would take the comments above a step further: don't even bother trying to re-use/re-purpose the old one. Just keep it around long enough to get the data off and then wipe and recycle it. Think about it. I'm as big a cheapskate as the next guy but if new tires cost $40 apiece and you didn't need to buy them in pairs AND the new one would hold twice as much data as the old one (analogy breaks down a bit there), would you even hesitate to replace a tire that had a slow leak or other signs of trouble? No. No you wouldn't.
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dbruntonAuthor Commented:
1.  Alas it's a relative (and not a customer) and quite probably all they know it is a computer (Dell Inspiron laptop).

2.  I've pulled the data off (yep, they had no backup).

3.  All the hardware tests OK using the Inspiron's diagnostics.  Chkdsk ran pretty OK but there were pauses there at times so I'm not exactly enthused over saying the hard disk is OK.  That might need replacing in future.

4.  Reinstall is where I'm heading for.  Keep hitting road blocks such as locked disk and Windows Resource Protection errors and sfc /scannow errors so it is time to reinstall.  Relative will be told.  I'd stick on Windows 10 but unsure if that pathway is still valid.
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gilnovSystems AdministratorCommented:
It's Christmastime! Buy your relative a new drive!
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Jackie ManCommented:
Agreed.

If the owner does not agree to pay for a new HDD and tell you all data in the old HDD is irrelevant to them, turn off the job unless you have a spare harddisk of smaller size and your hourly rate of charge is nonimal (you just do it for fun).

Then, use your MSDN win 8.1 setup media and product key to do the setup but do not activate it. (Or you can try any trial OS setup media to do the setup) and show it to your customer as a proof of concept.

After all, it is a time consuming task but can be done unless the customer agrees to pay for a new HDD.
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Jackie ManCommented:
If it is a Dell Inspiron laptop, just get its service tag and go to Dell warranty lookup website to check out the spec of the notebook.
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RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
If I install 8.1 on an 8 system it should recognize and authorize it without any problems?

No,  Windows 8.1 installer needs a product key during installation and also refuses to accept the Windows 8 product key and won’t allow to install Windows 8.1 with it.
You have to install Windows 8 normally and use the Windows 8.1 upgrade offer in the Windows Store to get Windows 8.1.
Only people who purchase Windows 8.1 can install it fresh, not people who originally purchased Windows 8.

Note: for unknown reason Windows 8.1 will accept the Windows 8 product key if you enter it on the desktop after installing Windows 8.1.
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dbruntonAuthor Commented:
>>  No,  Windows 8.1 installer needs a product key during installation ...

I'm presuming this one has a Windows 8 or 8.1 number in the BIOS.  OEM not retail.  In such a case what happens because it should NOT require any product key.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Windows 8 (not 8.1) came with the key in the BIOS. Windows 8.1 was generally an upgrade.

If your machine came originally from the factory with Windows 8.1, then that key should be in the BIOS.  I never ran across the latter because all the (few) Windows 8 machines we had (including my own) came with Windows 8 and I upgraded. Then these are all gone as I upgraded all them to Windows 10 as soon as it came out.
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RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
I think Microsoft policy will not change and it will not activate.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
OEM not retail.       Still came in the BIOS
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RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
it should NOT require any product key.

When you finish installation then  I think Windows 8.1 will activate with your Windows 8 key automatically.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
All you really need to do is install the version the machine came with . That will work. If it was V8 you can upgrade to V8.1 online
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dbruntonAuthor Commented:
>>  When you finish installation then  I think Windows 8.1 will activate with your Windows 8 key automatically.

Yes, I believe it is possible to use the Windows 8 key on a Windows 8.1 installation.  Work has to be done on one file and then it should all be possible.  But I'll be experimenting later in the week.
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RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
I also believe that for this reason:
for unknown reason Windows 8.1 will accept the Windows 8 product key if you enter it on the desktop after installing Windows 8.1.
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dbruntonAuthor Commented:
Just some comments on progress.

License in hard disk said 8.1 (couldn't tell if it was Home or Pro from that)
Label on laptop said 8
Relative said it had 10 on it and found it was too slow so she had 10 removed and 8 (I think she meant 8.1) put on it.  That makes sense, I can see the sticker of the company that did that job on the hard disk and laptop.
Talked into going back to 10
So Windows 10 Home installed without any problem.  Mickeysoft is happy with it.  There's 4 Gb of updates pending but NOT on my bandwidth.  That'll be on the relatives.
Data restored, Classic Shell installed (I like Classic Shell) and hopefully the relative will be happy.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Windows 10 is vastly better than Windows 8 or 8.1 so that is the way to go.
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dbruntonAuthor Commented:
Much thanks everyone.

Windows 10 installed.  Drop machine off tomorrow.  If I have to I can put 8.1 on this box, hope not.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thanks for the update.
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