How to install Windows 8 without product key - gHacks Tech News

How to install Windows 8 without product key

If you have installed the final version of Windows 8 on a PC recently, you have noticed that you had to enter a valid product key at one time during setup to continue with it. That's different from previous versions of the Windows operating system where you had the option to install the system without a product key. This was a way to try out the operating system for a specific amount of time before you either had to enter a product key or uninstall it (yes, even if you used the rearm command).

Windows Vally reports that there is still a way to install Windows 8 without entering a product key during setup. It requires a little bit of tweaking, but no modification of any files of the operating system. You basically add a file to the ISO image. What you need is a Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise ISO image, and a program like 7-Zip to extract the contents of the disk image to your local drive.

windows 8 installation

Once you have extracted the contents of the ISO, create the ei.cfg document in the Sources folder of the operating system. Add the following lines to the system:

[EditionID]
Core
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

You can replace Core with Pro or Enterprise, Retail with OEM, and VL with 1 (for true). Once that has been taken care of, you need to create a bootable Windows 8 ISO image again. The whole process is explained on this page.

For that, you need the Assessment and Deployment Kit for Windows 8, which you can download from Microsoft. You can alternative use a software like ImgBurn directly to create the bootable ISO image.

Once you have created and burned the ISO image, you can run the installation from it. When you get to the product key screen simply skip it when it appears.

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Comments

  1. RG said on August 22, 2012 at 12:44 am
    Reply

    gHacks is going to have another page in Microsoft’s cross hairs ;)

  2. Steve said on August 22, 2012 at 12:47 am
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    How to Install Windows 8
    >Step one: Open package
    >Step two: Remove DVD
    >Step three: Throw in bin or feed into paper shredder to unlock all special features

    Congratulations you have successfully installed Windows 8!

    Windows 8 the fist version of windows without windows or a start button or aero glass or gadgets or dvd playback or the ability to boot to desktop or the ability to block facebook via the host file and now with many other useful tools and functions removed to provide you with the most useless operating system to date. Act now and we will even charge you $40 for all these removed functions and lack of abilities. Windows 8 the future is here!

    1. Anonymous said on August 22, 2012 at 9:26 am
      Reply

      –Daaaddd, what’s a DVD?

      –Son, lemme tell you about a story when I was a young boy….

      –Zzzz

    2. Me said on April 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm
      Reply

      Steve, Windows 8 does have Windows and a desktop. If you just HAVE to use a start button, you can install a 3rd party start button. And do you REALLY need Areo to do useful things? Get a clue before posting again.

      1. Not me said on January 15, 2014 at 2:05 am
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        So you install Win8 to replace it’s predessecor Win7, and then have to get third party software to get the same functionality of Win7?…
        Sure Win8 is newer, but the missing of fundemental Windows parts is a enormous failure on Microsofts part, they should’ve at least allowed users to choose to use Metro or the Start menu…
        And no, Aero does not write code in my projects, I still have to do it, but it did make Vista and 7 ‘feel’ much more responsive and open, and to have a new os which removes that, seems weird as there is not a newer version, they just stripped it out…
        See if they would have taken a part, improved it, and put the newer version in, you could call it an upgrade, but now…
        Saddly, Microsoft tries to pull the tablets, smart phones, laptops and desktops together into one operating system which works for touchscreen devices, but not for devices which also heavily rely on a mouse and keyboard, such as laptops and desktops…
        The idea is good, but Microsofts failure to remember their userbase is becomming a painfull impact on their revenue as almost no large company such as a office or university is upgrading to Win8…

  3. sgr said on August 22, 2012 at 1:09 am
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    I’m not sure but there might be another way to get this done,simply make bootable usb and then tweak it with ei.cfg and so on.

    Best Regards.

    1. Not me said on January 15, 2014 at 2:08 am
      Reply

      Bootable usb sticks cannot be burned onto a dvd or used to install a vm or install a system over the network…
      So it’s usefull if you’re installing a box which you can boot of the usb ports, but legacy equipment, virtual systems, servers and firewall devices can not boot of usb or will actively block it…

  4. Nina said on August 22, 2012 at 2:13 am
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    Windows 9 will be command line install only and require a valid passport (sarcasm).

    1. SimonSays said on August 22, 2012 at 3:12 am
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      But start up times and benchmarks will make it easy to sell. They might make it 100% “in the Cloud” and convince us that’s it’s a security benefit.

      I think MS will require a Kinect full body scan instead of a passport. This way they can charge Linux a Kinect fee (pun intended).

  5. jasray said on August 22, 2012 at 4:27 am
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    Magic ISO, but what does it mean? An OS for free? Or an OS for the three months?

  6. RossN said on August 22, 2012 at 4:53 am
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    I’ll do that, but only if I can then make it legal on October 26th without reinstalling. Please advise!

    1. Dan said on August 23, 2012 at 2:18 am
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      “The evaluation edition will expire and cannot be upgraded.”
      http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/jj554510.aspx

  7. Avi said on August 22, 2012 at 5:25 am
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    Its just like the ei.cfg removal we used to do in earlier version of windows. But we used to get all OS versions in one ISO image, here we are choosing one at a time.Microsoft does the same mistake over and over again, they really love the saying what goes around sits down on the couch when it visits Microsoft.

  8. ilev said on August 22, 2012 at 11:54 am
    Reply
  9. lookmann said on August 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm
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    hi,
    how do you make a ei.cfg document?
    copy-paste the command in text/ notepad?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm
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      Yes, you create a plain text document and rename its extension from .txt to .cfg

      1. rick said on August 23, 2012 at 9:01 pm
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        I tried the ei.cfg method and when I went to activate with my technet acquired serial, I received an error saying that activation was not possible.

        So yes you can install without a key, but it seems that activation isn’t possible if you do it this way.

      2. Not me said on January 15, 2014 at 2:10 am
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        That would be because you’re technet serial is not a OEM or Volume License (the vl 1 tag)
        So you’ll probably have to reinstall unless Microsoft allows switching your licensing profile…

  10. Noman said on August 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm
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    Wow Thank For the Help love you Guys

  11. pankaj kumar said on September 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm
    Reply

    i am enter the key in win8 but it is not accpeted thh key please help me..

  12. mfw said on September 14, 2012 at 9:58 pm
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    I get the following error message:

    The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation. Enter a different product key.

    It then takes me back to the “Install Now” screen and the loop begins. Resolution?

    1. Mike said on November 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm
      Reply

      I get exactly the same error.
      I inserted RETAIL under channel… I wonder if changing that to OEM would make a difference? I’ll try and report back.
      Unless, of course, anyone else knows the reason for this message?
      Mike

      1. Not me said on January 15, 2014 at 2:14 am
        Reply

        The reason you get an error is because an error occured……
        And the error says your key cannot be used on your version of Windows…
        So you probably bought a key in a store or webshop, and typed OEM in the document.
        The key you bought is retail, hence it was selled to you by a retailworker, the guy selling it to you, and thus you’d need a OEM key, which is in a volume license (vl) and costs many thousands of dollars……..
        This tweak is to use volume licensing on a corporate network or to install Win8 quickly without activation…

  13. tarun said on September 20, 2012 at 7:21 am
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    i am enter the key in win8 but it is not accpeted plz tell me right key please help me..

  14. chhay said on September 25, 2012 at 7:23 am
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    I have enter the product key to active but it does not match please help me

  15. Splinter said on September 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm
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    I followed the instructions but it does not skip the product key page.

    help would be appreciated

  16. tasawar said on September 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm
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    If you decide to go back to your previous operating system, you’ll need to reinstall it from the recovery or installation media that came with your PC, which is typically DVD media. If you don’t have recovery media, you might be able to create it from a recovery partition on your PC using software provided by your PC manufacturer. Check the support section of your PC manufacturer’s website for more information. After you install Windows 8, you won’t be able to use the recovery partition on your PC to go back to your previous version of Windows.

    English
    64-bit (x64) Download (3.3 GB) Sha 1 hash — 0xD76AD96773615E8C504F63564AF749469CFCCD57

    32-bit (x86) Download (2.5 GB) Sha 1 hash — 0x8BED436F0959E7120A44BF7C29FF0AA962BDEFC9

    Product Key: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF

  17. [email protected] said on October 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm
    Reply

    Windows 8 Product Key

  18. Shruti said on October 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm
    Reply

    Hey, I followed the same steps which you have mentioned and in same sequence but still, it is asking product key. Now, what to do?

  19. Grant said on October 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm
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    As above- these instructions fail and it says the product key is no good.
    The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation. Enter a different product key.
    what do we do now???

  20. Sander said on October 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm
    Reply

    If you receive the error message:
    “The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation. Enter a different product key.”

    In ei.cfg, the Windows Edition ID has to be either Core, Professional or Enterprise.
    You are probably using Pro instead of Professional, because this article mentioned “Pro” and not the full “Professional”.
    Made the same mistake, and after using Professional it works.

    1. Nick said on October 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm
      Reply

      Thanks for the tip!
      But I want to ask you something, what is VL? I know that it is Volume Licencing but I do not know what does it mean.

      Also I have an iso image from DreamSpark (Windows 8 PRO RTM) and I want to add the ei.cfg so it can skip the enter key screen. The lines I should write in the file are these?
      [EditionID]
      Professional
      [Channel]
      Retail
      [VL]
      0

      Thanks!

      1. anonymous said on November 4, 2012 at 3:56 am
        Reply

        not Professional .. only Pro

      2. Not me said on January 15, 2014 at 2:17 am
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        Yes the lines are good.

        Volume licensing is as it says, a volume of licenses.
        A single key which allows instalation of many copies of Windows, used by OEM’s such as HP and Acer to install countless copies of Windows 7 or 8 on their machines.
        With a volume license, you get a better deal on several thousands of copies of Windows, so instead of buying 10.000 copies of Win8 you buy 10.000 in a volume license for the price of something like 9.000.
        As such, volume licenses are enormously expensive for home use :P

    2. Mike said on November 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm
      Reply

      Brilliant! I had the same problem…
      Hope that works; seems like you’ve tried it and it DID!
      Well done my friend!
      Regards,
      Mike

      1. Mike said on November 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm
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        I can confirm that changing “Pro” to “Professional” does indeed make it work!
        Now, in MY case, my CPU is not compatible (no NX!) but you can get around that by installing using the SETUP application in the SOURCES folder on the DVD!
        Currently installing as I type!
        Good luck to all!
        Mike

  21. Mark said on November 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm
    Reply

    As posted before, I have done exactly what you have told us to do, I’ve read the comments, checked other sites, nothing works, it still comes up with the same Product Key menu with out any sign of skipping it. Please help! Thanks

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm
      Reply

      Microsoft may have modified this in the final version. I did not have time to test it yet.

      1. Mark said on November 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm
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        Damn, do you think there is anyway of getting past the Product Code screen without putting in a valid product code then? If so, please let me know, otherwise do you know where I can get valid product codes? Thanks

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on November 2, 2012 at 8:23 pm
        Reply
      3. Mark said on November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm
        Reply

        It is exactly the same as above, but I still put in what they said:

        [EditionID]

        [Channel]
        Retail

        [VL]
        0

        But it still doesn’t work.

  22. Mark said on November 3, 2012 at 11:29 am
    Reply

    It is exactly the same as above, but I still put in what they said:

    [EditionID]

    [Channel]
    Retail

    [VL]
    0

    But it still doesn’t work.

  23. Mike said on November 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm
    Reply

    It needs to be thus:

    [EditionID]
    Professional
    [Channel]
    Retail
    [VL]
    0

    That works, I promise! That’s EXACTLY what I added and it works perfectly!
    Mike

    1. Mark said on November 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm
      Reply

      I’ve tried that as well, but it doesn’t work. Does it HAVE to be put on a CD to work?
      Thanks

      1. Mike said on November 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm
        Reply

        Mark,
        Create a file called ie.txt using notepad, add exactly as I described above (assuming that you DO have the professional version and it IS retail and it’s NOT volume licence, adjust as appropriate) then rename the extension to .cfg and put that file in the SOURCES folder that you copied from the original DVD, then burn the whole thing BACK to a blank DVD.
        Then you should be able to boot from that new disc, so long as you follow the instructions above using OSCDIMG; IMGBURN is probably easier!!!
        Sorry if the above is obvious, but I have no idea what your level of expertise is. Any more help, please let me know. I’ll do what I can… I’m not an expert but I generally know enough to get by. :-)
        Good luck.

    2. Mark said on November 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm
      Reply

      Sorry, I’m such an idiot. I saved it as .cfg but it saved it as .cfg.txt, so that’s why it wasn’t working, but I think it’s working great now, thanks for all your trouble!

      1. Mike said on November 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm
        Reply

        It’s remembering to get windows to show file extensions so you can rename that part from .txt to .cfg.
        Glad all is well.

  24. ajis said on November 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm
    Reply

    its working thank you

  25. Dexter said on November 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm
    Reply

    Product Key: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF

    Actually this key works you shud try it guys

    1. Kevin said on November 22, 2012 at 7:19 am
      Reply

      The Product Key Above Does Not Work, I’ve Tested it myself.

    2. Anonymous said on November 23, 2012 at 5:57 am
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      This product key works for enterprise evaluation works thanks

  26. nielton said on December 5, 2012 at 2:29 am
    Reply

    this qual he the product key yo win 8. sorry, me brazil

  27. TechnicalFox said on January 12, 2013 at 9:40 am
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    Just making a bootable usb, and adding the file is much quicker, and it does work, I literally just did it 10 min ago…

  28. Some guy said on January 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm
    Reply

    I can confirm that setting the version to “Professional” in stead of “Prof” fixes the “does not match” problem!

  29. Me said on June 5, 2013 at 4:24 am
    Reply

    It works perfectly!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks!!!!

  30. James said on June 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm
    Reply

    In hirens disc there is an WinNTSetup (Fast install XP/Vista/7/2k3/2k8)

    This works just the same, you just have to partition the disk using either diskpart or some other method. Worked great for me!

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