Windows 8 Upgrade: clean install possible?

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 27, 2012
Updated • Oct 31, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft is pushing the Windows 8 Upgrade offers ever since Windows 8 got released a day ago. In fact, you only can buy upgrades on Microsoft Store, if you want a retail copy, you need to buy it elsewhere right now as Microsoft itself is not making those available. The promotions the company is currently running are highly attractive, starting at $39.99 for a Windows 8 Pro upgrade license. What's not clear at all is whether you can do a clean install using the upgrade media or not.

Microsoft's official stance is that you can't, stating that "customers must be running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or windows 7" to install Windows 8 Pro update. The company furthermore notes under "purchasing the upgrade" that if customers upgrading from a Windows 8 Pro upgrade DVD must have an eligible version of Windows running on the PC to begin the upgrade.

Reports on various tech blogs on the other hand seem to indicate that there is more to it than Microsoft wants to admit. Some report that you can do a clean install using a downloaded upgrade copy of Windows 8 Pro that you have burned to DVD or copied on an USB Flash Drive.

While the authors of the articles state that they were able to do a clean install, some readers noted that the operating system would not activate after the installation throwing error code 0x8007007B instead.

The Software Licensing Service determined that this specified product key can only be used for upgrading, not for clean installation

windows 8 upgrade setup

Part of the confusion may be caused by the definition of clean install. Most see a clean install as an installation on a blank hard drive, while some may see it as an option to keep no files from a previous operating system.The following questions need to be addressed:

  • Can you use a Windows 8 Pro Upgrade license to install and activate the operating system on a PC with no prior version of Windows?
  • Is there a difference between using the Windows Upgrade Assistant to purchase, download and install the copy of Windows, or burning it to DVD or moving it to an USB Flash Drive to install the operating system from the media?
  • Do you need an activated version of Windows on the PC to run the upgrade?

I can answer the second and third question at the moment. When you use the Upgrade Assistant to install Windows 8 on the PC it is running, it automatically embeds the product key on the system, while you are required to enter the product key during installation when you create a DVD or USB copy.

According to Microsoft, the PC you want to install the Windows 8 upgrade on needs traces of an old operating system that is eligible for the upgrade. While you can still install Windows 8 on the system, it won't activate otherwise as no previous version of Windows has been found by the installer running on it.

It still feels strange that some users were able to install and activate Windows 8 Upgrade in a clean environment. Caschy for instance was able to install the operating system in a new virtual machine environment without issues, while others who tried the same were not able to do just that. I'm not sure what to make of this at this point in time.

Activate Windows 8 Pro Upgrade

Windows 8 users who noticed that the operating system can't be activated after the installation may want to try the following workaround that worked to activate when installing Windows 8 using an upgrade on a clean PC.

  • Open regedit by pressing Windows-q, entering regedit and selecting the result from the list of hits.
  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/
  • Change MediaBootInstall from 1 to 0
  • Go back to the start screen and enter cmd there.
  • Right-click Command Prompt and select to run it as administrator.
  • Type slmgr /rearm on the command line and hit enter.
  • Reboot Windows now.
  • Run the activation utility afterwards, enter your product key to activate Windows.

I'm interested in your Windows 8 installation experience. How did you install the operating system and what was your experience? Did you run into any issues?


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. status said on May 6, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks sooooo much! I was about to re-format to W7 and then i remembered I had this page as a bookmark. :)

  2. Anonymous said on March 23, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    fantastic, saved me hours!!

  3. Franki said on November 3, 2015 at 7:30 am

    I ran into the same problem but thanks for your advice, it works.

  4. Gary said on July 16, 2015 at 6:18 am

    The registry solution worked perfectly. Thank you.

  5. Sarah said on February 11, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I’ve heard they are releasing Windows 10 but so far the reviews have been pretty bad.

    I’ll stick to Windows 8 for now. Thanks

  6. Aditya Soni said on September 25, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I thought i have no other option except reinstalling win 7 but you nailed it. it is indeed a beautiful piece of information. Thank you much for explaining in detail. i stuck on some points during the install as they were somewhere not told in your article but it didnt hinder the installation.

  7. Geoff Akerlund said on September 25, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Thank you! This saved me hours of work. Installing Vista on a virtual machine before upgrading to Windows 8 is CRAZY. Microsoft should just require a valid key for the previous OS.

  8. mprvlr said on October 30, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Thanks so much for the tip.
    It worked fine for me.
    I did a clean install on my Lenovo notebook.

  9. Hedel said on October 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I found out that this works also on Parallels on a Mac..
    I’ll be trying it tonight… thanks!! :)

  10. Ivar said on September 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks sooooo much! I was about to re-format to W7 and then i remembered I had this page as a bookmark. :)

  11. Dieter said on June 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    This method described, works fine and many thanks! My story is similar a Lenovo E135 blank hardrive and a fresh install of W8 Pro although I discovered the license was an upgrade license! Thankyou MS. :-(

    Installed using product key but online activation failed and W8 didn’t take me to the telephone screen and became frustrated with SLUI.EXE (1-6) commands which didn’t force W8 to go to the telephone screen.

    Now to update all drivers…a long task and get an recovery image created.

    Thanks again to all!

  12. Frankie said on May 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I have done all of this up to the arrow but I dont understand how to go to administrator tools
    Can you help me finish? I dont know what I am doing wrong? thank you

    Open regedit by pressing Windows-q, entering regedit and selecting the result from the list of hits.
    Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/
    Change MediaBootInstall from 1 to 0

    –> Go back to the start screen and enter cmd there.
    Right-click Command Prompt and select to run it as administrator.
    Type slmgr /rearm on the command line and hit enter.
    Reboot Windows now.
    Run the activation utility afterwards, enter your product key to activate Windows.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      You do not know how to go to the start screen? That’s the screen Windows 8 boots to when it starts. If you are on the desktop, press the Windows-key to go there.

      1. Jeff said on September 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

        Do you know if this workaround is still working? I did it on my Mac back around January and it worked perfectly. I just tried to do it on another one in my office and it’s not working. I’m running updates now and will try the workaround again, but just got to wondering if Microsoft changed something that prevents this from working now.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm

        I have not tried it but I have not heard anything that it does not work anymore.

  13. Martin said on May 3, 2013 at 5:40 am

    It worked for my Windows 8 x64 ENG INTL VUP install on VMWare 8 on which I had done a clean install. I did not have to re-enter the product key after following your procedure and the reboot, it turned out it was already automatically activated when I went back to the activation tool. Thank you.

  14. Tom said on April 19, 2013 at 6:15 am

    I appreciate your help – but – did you really test it? I tried and directly after I used this workaround, rebooted my system and tried to activate – i get another error message saying: The activation server reported that the Multiple Activation Key has exceeded its limit. (Error code 0xC004C020).

    And you know, I wouldn’t said a word against it, if they had told me, that that rubbish I buy is _only_ an upgrade. It’s not written on the package! And the salesman even corrected me saying that it is a real, valid full OS, not an upgrade.. Gosh …. Micro$oft

  15. Daan said on April 15, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I have many experience on this subject.

    I purchased two windows 8 upgrade licenses from my laptop (which is running a legal version of windows 7 x64 which came with the laptop).

    I recently installed an SSD into my HTPC and laptop and on the HTPC (after some hassle) a clean install on the SSD eventually worked. I recognize the “traces of an old eligible OS”, you mention, because I had to keep my old HDD in the box and add the SSD to it. Then I installed windows 8 on the SSD in dual-boot mode. Then I removed the HDD and tried to boot Windows from the SSD, but it couldn’t, because the HDD still contained the primary OS. Then I reinstalled Windows 8 clean (with which I mean I removed the partition during the Windows 8 installation process) onto the SSD. And it worked!

    When I installed the SSD into my laptop and tried to do a fresh install on this fresh drive it wouldn’t work. I first had to reinstall windows 7 (used an old copy I found in a drawer with the license key that came with the laptop) and then upgrade to windows 8.

    Today I’m upgrading my HTPC again (new mobo, cpu and ram) and if I’m feeling geeky I might do a fresh install again (because this mobo supports uefi). Windows 8 is still installed on the SSD, so everything should work fine. We’ll see!

  16. Johan said on April 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you! I will never buy a license again. It is way more convenient with remove wat or whatever you use for windows 8. I re-installed windows yesterday on a Clean drive, had to activate by phone. Then today I had to re-install it again because I had partitioned the disk wrongly, and this time I got the “only be used for upgrading” message and was furious. Fortunately I found this article and I didn’t even have to do Another activation, somehow the key was registered on my first attempt despite not getting validated and after reboot windows was activated. But this is NOT adding on my pluslist on MS, I mean, activate by phone. That is so ancient that it is embarrasing.

  17. Rick said on April 2, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Just a note to let people know. On my iMac, running Parallels 8, I was able to load both Windows 8 AND Windows 7. I can choose whichever I want. They both run seamlessly. I installed Win 8 in December after I bought the new iMac. (And had to follow Martin’s excellent tips to get it activated.) Then I learned that the federal bankruptcy court computer system – where I do electronic filing – does not recognize Win 8 and that there was no plan to upgrade the system past Win 7. The bankruptcy court computers do not recognize Macs either, which is why I needed Windows in the first place.

    Anyway – point is I was able to then install my Windows 7 disk in another virtual drive (or whatever it’s called). So my iMac now runs Mac 10.8, Win 8, and Win 7. No troubles.

  18. Michael said on April 2, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Another “GREAT BIG THANKS!” for the workaround. I REALLY didn’t want to have to overwrite my clean install of Win8 on my dual boot MacBook Pro with my old copy of Win7 and then “upgrade” it, just for activation to work.

    Much appreciated!

  19. leroy said on February 23, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    After this has completed and activated windows 8, do we have to change back the MediaBootInstall to 1?

  20. micah said on February 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    this still worked great, they also wanted to sell me their $99 service

  21. Alex said on February 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Worked for me as well. I had previously had to call microsoft and they kept giving me a free $99 service since my copy was under 90 day warranty… lol I kept having to reinstall because I was messing with computer a lot, finally found this and it worked!!! Didn’t have to call microsoft to activate my copy of windows I could do it myself! thanks for this guide.

  22. Dan said on February 12, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Thank you!! I thought I had just wasted €30 until I came across this article. Worked perfectly for me, Windows completed the activation automatically after following those steps and rebooting.

  23. Chris Sullivan said on February 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    I bought Windows 8 Pro Upgrade at the special offer price to upgrade a Windows 7 installation on a MacBook Pro. An in place upgrade failed to install the correct drivers rendering the trackpad inoperable, a clean install followed by installation of the bootcamp worked a treat.

    However after a few days use I was presented with the “Activate Windows” page on logging in. After several frustrating days installing and re-installing Windows 7 and 8 trying to get Windows 8 to install without issue I came across this page. Installing a clean Windows 8 and following the instructions above allowed me to Activate my copy of Windows 8.

    Thanks a lot, Microsoft’s upgrade strategy is crazy.

  24. Chris said on February 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I’m hoping this will work for me. I’ve build a computer and I’m waiting on the upgrade dvd and ssd to arrive. I’m wondering if I can create a boot usb first with an older pc and use the boot drive on the new one; I don’t have a sata dvd drive for the new computer yet. If not, Ill have to invest in one.

  25. MG said on February 2, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Hi, did just as you instructed, when I rebooted win 8 some updates happened to be running and
    I didn’t even have to reenter the key, windows self activated itself.


  26. bman said on February 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Woohoo it worked :) Thank you so much!

  27. THANKS!!! said on February 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Just did a clean install and activation thanks to your registry workaround!! THANKS!!!!

  28. White Wind said on January 31, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Hello all.. I’m about to buy Windows 8 pro 64 bit, on DVD with the box, and money-wise it really is time to do so ! I plan to install it on a PC (one only) that I’ll begin to build soon.

    As of now I’m on XP, but I don’t own any legit copy of Windows nor a license, and I’m wondering if buying the upgrade version, plus applying this
    regedit will grant me a license ( so I won’t have trouble with Windows Update, or with downloading something from their site )


    do I have to buy the GGK version to get that license ?

    Both prices are the same here.. One of those two would be a better buy ?

    sorry if that sounds, well, noobish, but I’d really like to know if I’m mistaking anywhere if I choose to go with the GGK version

    Thanks in advance for your precious piece of advise about my case !

  29. Jimmy said on January 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Just got a mac book pro and installed Windows 8 with VMWare Fusion. I was able to install and run Windows 8 normally and use it but I kept getting activation notices periodically, which was very annoying. My activation key would not work for the reasons stated in this article – you can only purchase a Windows 8 upgrade, not a full version.

    After researching this issue, I tried the above solution and it worked! I’ve seen this work around on other sites, but I couldn’t get it to work. The key step I was missing that other sites neglected was the following:

    “Right-click Command Prompt and select to run it as administrator”

    Thanks for detailing that step for those of us who are less savvy with this kind of stuff.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 27, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Glad that this helped you out.

  30. Anon said on January 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    This worked for me!! Thank you!!!

  31. It Work said on January 22, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    It works on iMac machine install:
    activation was not possible, but worked fine with this workarround

  32. Tim said on January 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    It was activated! Thanks so much! I had looked through dozens of sites trying to find a definitive answer to whether Windows 8 Upgrade would install to a clean hard drive before I found your site. Yours was the only one that gave me confidence to do it!

  33. Tim said on January 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I downloaded the $39.95 upgrade and it installed fine. After two days it booted to the activation screen. It gave an error which said “key not valid”. I typed it in several times and am sure it is the key on my order summary. I made the regedit change, and did the slmgr /rearm successfully. But now that I have rebooted, I can’t locate the activation window, and I don’t know what it means to “run the activation utility”. Windows 8 seems to be working fine. How do I tell if it is activated already? Thanks.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      To find out if it is activated enter System on the start screen and select the only result. This should open the System Control Panel applet. Scroll down on the page until you see Windows activation and there you should see if it is activated or not.

  34. Wout said on January 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    It worked…! :) Followed the instructions exactly en now everything is working like supposed to. Keep up the great work!

  35. H-KING said on December 24, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Thank you so much; my HDD failed so I bought another one and tried to do a clean install of Windows 8 Pro with my key only to be met with an activation notice, but then I found this and it worked! Unfortunately, I ended up buying another Windows 8 Pro key lol I guess I’ll give it to someone for christmas

  36. ar said on December 12, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Is it completely legal?

  37. Rick said on December 12, 2012 at 2:56 am

    OK, continuing earlier message … I think “windows-q” is the same as “option-q” on my Mac … maybe. But I still have no idea what I’m supposed to do.

    I can run Windows 8 and I have a start-up screen, but “option-q” does nothing. Am I supposed to be running some sort of program when I “press windows-q”? What do I have to do to get to a screen where “windows-q” actually does something?

    Most of the comments to this article are incomprehensible to me. Sorry. Many of you seem to be speaking a language that’s not English.

    1. Rick said on December 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      I finally got this to work. Thanks for the tips.

      I had to make some uneducated guesses but finally figured out that I needed to enter the things you were telling me to enter in the Search prompt, but that I needed to search in Apps for “cmd” and I needed to search in Settings for “activation.”

      Also, since I’ve very rarely had to use DOS in the last 30 years, I wasn’t 100% sure how to enter “slmgr /rearm” but I just took a stab at it. Very nervous that I would mess something up, but it worked ok.

      Compounding my difficulty – my Internet connection kept going in and out, interrupting the process. (I’m in a rural location) … so that was an added headache for me.

      However, after a couple of attempts I was able to enter my product key (number found on the back of a card in my Windows DVD box) and the system finally recognized it. And the computer tells me that my Windows is NOW ACTIVATED.

      So thank you.

  38. Rick said on December 12, 2012 at 2:06 am

    I’d like to try this but I have no idea what is meant by step one:
    “Open regedit by pressing Windows-q …”

    How do you “press Windows-q”? What does that mean? Is that a keystroke?

    Guess I should say I’m on a Mac and trying to use Windows 8 via Parallels.

    I bought Windows 8 Pro at an office supply store. I loaded Parallels 8 and then Windows 8 from the disc. It had me enter a product key #, which I found on a card inside the Windows box.

    Windows seemed to load ok, and I’m using it ok. Able to use Internet Explorer, for example. But every so often a screen takes over my computer that says I need to activate the PC by entering a product code.

    I again entered the product key # from inside the box, but the system won’t accept the number. It says I can’t use an upgrade #. Evidently I bought an upgrade version when I thought I was doing a clean install.

    The article above seems to address my concern but – again – I don’t understand Step 1.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 12, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Windows-Q opens the Search Charm on the right. You can move your mouse to the lower right corner and select Search from the Charms Bar manually instead.

  39. Vad said on December 10, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Hi… i have already upgraded my Dell Inspiron Laptop from Vista to Win 8.. i didnt do a fresh install as i wanted to keep all my personal files… But iam facing few issues now… the laptop just wont shutdown.. im planning for a fresh install now.. how do i do it? i hv the serial key with me but i dont hv the Win 8 setup external source… pls help as i hv not received any response from Microsoft so far…

  40. Kannan said on December 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I purchased windows 8 pro upgrade for $39.99. After I upgraded my vista, windows 8 failed to boot after some updates. The reason is the failure of hdd. I bought a new hdd but I didn’t have recovery disk. when I googled and found this website. Simply followed your instructions and worked like charm. Thanks a lot.

  41. Stuart said on December 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Regedit worked fine for me. Just waiting for my free wmc upgrade key!

  42. Cesar said on December 4, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Holy crap! It works!

  43. Gordon said on November 30, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    hey I cannot update windows via this way when I bought the upgraded wins 8. when I type in the slmgr /rearm in cmd they came out with the error 0xc004c032. help plz

  44. jacko said on November 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Hi, I’d like to upgrade from windows 7 to windows 8.
    After installing windows 8, what happens if I change my hard disk or my motherboard? The product key is still valid?
    The windows 8 upgrade is retail or oem? It should be a retail version, and so I should be allowed to change my hardware configuration, or instead the product key delivered is calculated for my specific hardware configuration?

  45. jacko said on November 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Hello, what happens if I change my hard disk or my motherboard? The product key will be still valid? Or the product key delivered is calculated for my specific hardware configuration?

  46. djnforce9 said on November 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    My SSD died yesterday so I had to do a clean installation on my secondary HDD until I can get it replaced under the warranty. I ran into the error code mentioned in this article and then followed the steps which worked perfectly (as soon as I rebooted, my copy was activated with the key I had entered before that originally returned the error).

    I don’t understand why Microsoft is pushing you to install Windows 7 and THEN install Windows 8 in order to satisfy the “upgrade” requirement. That’s incredibly time consuming. If I own Windows 7, then I am eligible and the least they could have done is asked for my Windows 7 key to verify the upgrade rather than spitting out the error message.

    Thanks for this article though. It’s much simpler than all the solutions I’ve been finding ranging from double installs to performing a “refresh”.

  47. Adhiraj said on November 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Just wanted to know, when you say:

    “Run the activation utility afterwards, enter your product key to activate Windows.”

    Should I use the new Windows 8 key, or the previous Windows 7 one? Thanks!

  48. Bgee said on November 27, 2012 at 6:11 am

    I used the instructions provided to update the registry after doing the clean install in VMware Fusion on my Mac. Was able to activate Win 8 after that. Unfortunately, ran into a problem in Internet Explorer 10 where it continuously gives me a message about web pages running scripts, and no matter how many times I click on a Yes or No option, the message returns.

    I have since done the double install of Win 8, using the”remove everything and re-install Windows 8″ feature under ‘General’ on PC Settings page, and seem to have a clean install that so far, functions correctly.

  49. Timothy Burgher said on November 27, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Thanks worked great!

  50. Me said on November 26, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    So if I understood correctly there is no way to activate in the case you had a win7 upgraded online for 39,99 and you just want to make a hw upgrade like mb+cpu? You have to install fresh the win7 on the new hardware, activate it and on top of that to re-install the win8 upgrade? This is really stupid. I tough that once you bought the upgrade for your win7, the license became a win8 license, and from now on you can just install the win8 clean from the ordered media or saved usb/dvd iso and activate it how many times you need it, like in the retail case of Win7 copy.

    best regards

  51. TZ said on November 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Really annoyed that the ‘Windows 8 Pro’ version didn’t let me replace the hard drive. I had no end of trouble getting all the partitions and drives working in my MacBook Pro.

    Thanks for the trick. Worked perfectly!
    Now my 2 week old OS is licensed again. (seriously, they wonder why it gets pirated so much!)

  52. Conal said on November 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Worked a treat. Thanks very much – WIndows 8 now working on Parallels 8 on my Mac!

  53. Frank said on November 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Looks like it worked for me. It tell’s me it’s activated. Went from 7 to 8, but did a format on the SSD for a clean start. So, many thanks!!!

  54. Al said on November 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    That was awesome, thank you. You saved me precious time staying on Microsoft queue call line.

  55. steve said on November 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I found this very helpful.

    1/. I couldn’t get the download to iso option using XP, but got it on Windows 7.
    2/. Download the iso on 64-bit WIn 7 if you want 64-bit iso for Win8.
    3/. I think the iso has the product key you have purchased embedded within it — so make sure it isn’t activated elsewhere (e.g. on an abortive, or accidental 32-bit install).
    4/. Do a clean install from the iso, using the hack above.
    5/. Once that is done, activate if necessary. If you’ve already activated that key, plead with MS support, or just purchase a new one within Win8. I did the latter, as life is too short…

  56. Eetu said on November 15, 2012 at 9:46 pm


    I didn’t read all the replies but I can answer your first question “Can you use a Windows 8 Pro Upgrade license to install and activate the operating system on a PC with no prior version of Windows?”

    I’m going to switch my old HDD to a SSD drive for and I want to make a fresh install since I originaly upgraded from Vista. I called to Microsofts technical service(for the first time ever, felt humiliated…) to ask if I was going to run in to problems with the upgrade license and they said “yes”, BUT they can alter something in that end so when I’m installing it, I’ll just give them a call and they’ll do the fix.

    I suppose they will alter my licence key so that it will activate also on a fresh install. But now since I Ifound this workaround I just might save myself from the trouble calling… :)

    1. Eetu said on November 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      That workaround worked fine for me, thanks! Win8 running smoothly on my new ssd now… :P

  57. Brent said on November 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Just tried the workaround, and it didn’t seem to work, I also noticed that the error code thrown by Windows Activation is different than the one mentioned in the article. The error I’m getting is 0xC004F061, but the error message is the same.

    Granted, I’m using a purchased DVD, which might be different than the downloaded one.

  58. Jeff said on November 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Been trying to figure this out for days and days and finally came across your work-around and tried it and it worked perfectly right away! Thanks!!

  59. Paul said on November 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    When I get to 00BE in the registry there is no option for “Media Boot Install.” There appears to be two selections where I could change a number from 1 to 0. Which do I use?

  60. Xi said on November 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Can we use the downloaded ISO file for installing Win 8 on one or more different PC/notebook with different Product Keys for each?

  61. Andy said on November 12, 2012 at 4:46 am

    Worked great for me. I have Win 7 ultimate on a VM on my mac and wanted to upgrade it. It failed to upgrade using the Upgrade Manager, so I opted to save an .iso file. I then booted a new VM off of it. It installed no problem, but then said it wasn’t licensed. I tried the key that MS sent me but it said it was for upgrade only. I then attached the .vdi file to my Win 8 VM, did the regedit, ran the slmgr command and rebooted. It didn’t even ask me for the key, it was just authenticated. I had the Win 8 key on my Win 7 partition so maybe it picked it up there. Not sure but very happy.

  62. bullmoon said on November 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I did a clean install and needed to use the REG hack to get it to activate. Nice tip – thanks.

  63. AJ said on November 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Martin,

    THANKS it worked for me I even’t had to run the activation tool, the system started up and was activated.

    My big THANKS for you


  64. Peter H said on November 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you, that worked for me too. Fresh install on a clean hard drive on a laptop.

    I had expected the Win 8 installer to ask for a DVD from a previous version. Was quite annoyed that it let me go all the way through to attempted activation before it told me it wasn’t going to do it.

  65. Greg said on November 11, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Bought win 8 pro upgrade dvd this morning after reading through your workaround

    Everything worked perfectly, i installed win 8 pro, then used the workaround to activate it.

    Thank you very much. Greatly appreciated for the info.

  66. Mario Dupuis said on November 11, 2012 at 4:57 am

    I purchased win 8 pro upgrade through the same procedure, installed as custom (clean install with main and windows reserved partition deleted, windows 8 recreates a 350 mb reserved partition when creating the main one), when install finished, it was already activated, and for some reason, in the erigisrty, the entry of Mediabootinstall was already at 0, so no issues for me. The DVD was downloaded from a non-legit windows 7 ultimate RTM. Installed on a computer on which a torrent copy of windows 8 was installed, thee was nothing left from a previous windows 7 pro install on it.

  67. zenstar J le Génie said on November 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Here is my story
    I downloaded the win8 upgrade after purchasing it, i bougt an SSD and instaled it directly on it (no prior windows instalation since it’s a new ssd)
    after that i got the problem of activation (it wont activate)
    Did a search with Mr GOOGLE and i am here i try this workaround and it works as a charm and my laptop is far too speady as it was
    Tthank you very much

  68. Simon said on November 8, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I was really frustrated at the thought of having to reinstall a prior OS (I ran the upgrade assistant off the Consumer Preview anyhow!)

    Was going to have a rant at Microsoft support personal regarding wasting my time by allowing a clean install blah blah blah

    and then I thought, perhaps Google :D

    Found this article

    Didn’t even need a reboot it seems. Suddenly the key that was not valid was now valid and windows 8 activated

    Thank you

  69. Mario said on November 8, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Worked for me. When I rebooted, I went to activate and it said to try to activate at a later time but the activate button was enabled so I clicked on it and presto windows was activated. Rebooted again just to make sure and when windows came up I went to the PC Sttings and the option (button) for activation was gone. YES….Thank you.

  70. Ram said on November 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I too had the problem of activation. The steps you’d provided worked as it was mentioned. Thanks for the post.

  71. Rudy said on November 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Had Vista previously. Using Dell inspiron E1505. I run a lot of statistical, code writing, and data manipulation so computer was so bogged with programs and data that it took effort just to open a folder. Installed extra 1Gb RAM and also installed new 120GB SSD and purchased windows 8 upgrade. Install worked but could not activate because previous vista version was on old hard drive that was replaced. Work-around worked and now up and running. Computer runs as if brand new. Thanks.

  72. Curtis said on November 7, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Thanks! This was great. I didn’t even have to try to activate again.

  73. Zack263 said on November 7, 2012 at 3:03 am

    I’m disappointed, I thought I was getting a full windows OS with clean install… instead I got

    error “Code 0xC004F051 – The software liscensing service determined that this specified product

    key can only be used for upgrading not for clean isntallation” I’m tired of having to jump through

    hoops. No wonder everyone is going to APPLE and LINUX.

  74. seamus rudden said on November 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Bought a new PC and swapped out the HD for a SSD, but then could not activate on the clean install. Microsoft gave me the run around with phone calls and chat support with no solutions and a ‘could not give a damn attitude’.

    Used this hack and on reboot windows was activated …can’t thank you enough.

    Microsoft might have got the pricing right on these upgrades but lousy support on a genuine issue such as this is rubbish.

    Thanks Again

  75. Michiel said on November 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Many thanks! Worked fine for me in W8 Pro. When you type in the search box CMD, rightclick on the resulting Command Prompt box and choose Run As Administrator, otherwise you get an error something about Elevated Privilages :). After that I did not need to enter the key (I allready did at install) and W8 was activated, however with the infamous Watermark at bottom right. I therefor changed the register back again and the watermark disapeared…
    Thanks again.

  76. Anky said on November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    It worked for me. Thanks a lot

  77. Davidf said on November 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I did 2 upgrades(ultrabook,PC) the first clean install worked and activated, the second failed, the only difference I can see is that on the first I deleted all partitions then re-formatted during installation. On the second install I replaced the ssd raid(after windows 8 install trashed it) with a new larger SSD.

    This fix resolved the second install, as soon as I rebooted it activated automatically with the key that I had originally used.

  78. kyxer said on November 5, 2012 at 1:03 am

    This worked great for me thnx

  79. Zaq said on November 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Info worked

  80. Chris said on November 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    The regedit worked like a dream for me on my rMBP 13 running Boot Camp

  81. Paul Robertson said on November 4, 2012 at 1:21 pm


    I managed a clean install from the upgrade ISO (29.99 euros in Europe) by creating a new partition on a Windows 7 machine. The W8 installation process seemed to recognise the Windows 7(OEM) on the original partition and installed from DVD direct to the new partition without comment. Result: a dual-boot W7/W8. The advantage is that I get to keep the old familiar environment as a default while making up my mind about W8, and at that price, why not?

    Paul Robertson (France)

  82. Ellis said on November 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Can anyone confirm I’ve understood this correctly?

    My interpretation is; I can download the “upgrade” file – presumably to any computer and write it either to a DVD or USB stick. From there I can install an inactivated version of windows 8 onto a brand new custom built machine with no previous OS at all. Then, with the registry workaround detailed in this article, I can activate the newly installed windows 8 into a fully operational operating system.

    Am I missing anything?


  83. Cisco said on November 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Worked great for me. I decided to take the opportunity to upgrade my HDD to SSD as part of my Windows 8 upgrade. Because I did so, it was a clean install, even though I was legitimately installing on the same computer eligible for the upgrade. Your steps here fixed my issue of Windows not activating.

  84. Hira said on November 3, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I bought the Windows 8 Pro 39.99 upgrade. I had previously windows 7. I created an ISO of the file, burnt it to a DVD media. I did a clean install (deleted everything from old drive). Tried to put in the windows 8 activation code and received the clean install error shown in this article.

    I then used your regedit steps and restarted computer. It automatically activated windows and recognized the same key I placed without me needing to re-enter it for activation again.

    Hope this helps

  85. Craig said on November 3, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Thankyou, solved my issue!

  86. Rick G. said on November 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Registry enhancement worked great for me.


  87. Phil said on November 2, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Extremely glad to see this. I purchased a new mobo-ram-cpu-ssd and plan to fresh install win8 with the upgrade key I purchased. One last thing, can the procedure mentioned above be considered as illegal in anyway ? Last thing I want is for Microsoft to ban my paid licence or something like that.

    Thanks for informing a newb

  88. Tony said on November 2, 2012 at 2:37 am

    I was on the phone with MS Tech support over this today. For like an hour and a half while the agent insisted on remoting in and performing a sfc scan. Finally found this on Google and asked if I could try this solution as his only other recommendation was to do the install process again and hope that fixed it. He acted like he didn’t want anything to do with it and tried to get me to confirm that I was reinstalling W8 after the remote session disconnected.

  89. Nelito said on November 1, 2012 at 10:58 am

    This works like a charm on a Windows 8 Pro fresh install, thanks!!

    No more install W7 first and then install W8 Pro ugrade.

    Thank you!Thank you!!

  90. sarah said on November 1, 2012 at 1:57 am

    my vista got completely corrupted and i had no operating system in my sony vaio laptop, i installed windows 8 pro and couldn’t activate it after words, i called Microsoft and a technical support agent helped me activate it.

  91. Brian Costelloe said on November 1, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Big Big hassles! I installed Windows 8 Pro with no problems. But then I decided to go to settings and commit to a fresh re-install as I was carrying loads of old files from 2 previous system upgrades.

    I got started with the re-install and it was looking like no problems until I get an UNEXPECTED ERROR appear. Only option it gave me was re-start. Once I restarted I was faced with a BIOS message stating “NO OS FOUND ON C DRIVE!”

    Now I need to take the PC down to the nearby computer store to have it hopefully rectified by them! Ouch!

    1. sarah said on November 1, 2012 at 2:00 am

      try calling microsoft they might help you

  92. Gerrard said on October 31, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Did a clean install of Windows 8 Pro from DVD+RW onto Acer Iconia Tablet W500.
    Edited the registry as you advised and activated without any problems – many thanks.
    Now just adding the free Media Centre Pack…

  93. Var said on October 31, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    “….installing Windows 7 using an upgrade on a clean PC.”

    Should this be Windows 8, it seems typo, right?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Well spotted, corrected it. Thanks!

  94. Xi said on October 31, 2012 at 1:07 am

    If i don’t have a CC and debit cards not working and don’t have paypal, I’m going to use my friend’s CC for paying. How to fill in billing address in Windows 8 upgrade assistant?

  95. UtK said on October 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Thanks for a workaround. Activation worked like a charm.

  96. Rob said on October 30, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Can someone tell me how to get the ISO? All I have is an Windows8-Setup.exe file and it takes me right into upgrading my current install (which I don’t want to do). I’d rather do a clean install on a new partition but I can’t figure out how to get an ISO image to do that.

    Your advice here would be greatly appreciated.

  97. Suneel said on October 30, 2012 at 3:53 am

    It worked!!! Thanks a million! :)

  98. Hans vd Meer said on October 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Attn. Iron2000

    Answer is Yes

  99. Guy said on October 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    No tricks needed,I did a pc refresh option in windows 8 and now it’s activated and everything works !

  100. snappingkiwi said on October 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Okay, I’ve got some questions…
    What is the process of installing Windows 8 Pro 64 bit from Vista 32 bit? Would I have to (please verfify!, somebody):
    Purchase the key with the assistant, download a 64 bit installer from Bittorrent/technet (because the one from the assistant gives a 32 bit version if I’m correct), then burn the iso downloaded to a usb, and run the installer while not in the OS. After that use the registry workaround.

    Also, has anybody successfully activated multiple pcs with one key? I know it’s not SUPPOSED to work, but there is a chance it could though I’m not sure if the key will get checked to not get run on other pcs rather than it is just valid or not. so it would work like a retail key. That would be great.

  101. Rob said on October 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I purchased the $39.99 upgrade and I’m having trouble figuring out how to get the ISO download.

    Here are the steps I’m taking. Perhaps you can tell me what I’m doing wrong.

    1. Click on Windows8_setup.exe
    2. Click the option to Install Now (vs Install later from desktop) and then click the Install button
    3. On License Terms screen, click the I agree to terms checkbox and click the Accept button
    4. Then I’m presented with the Ready To Install where my only options are to go Back or Install.

    Where in all this would I get the option to download an image? If I click Install, will I be presented with that option?

  102. Sander De Vos said on October 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you for the information, especially the activation through regedit hack.

    What I did:
    – Purchase license
    – burn the ISO
    – booted from dvd – formatted disks (clean install )
    – after installation I couldn’t activate my windows copy

    Your trick did it, after rebooting my windows was activated all of a sudden :)

  103. Oaks56 said on October 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Today I was able to change the wallpaper and scenes too and w/o doing anything. Maybe it just takes some time (or a couple reboots) for that to take effect after being activated?

  104. iron2000 said on October 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Is the clean PC mentioned the same as a new PC (new HDD, new motherboard)?

  105. Hans vd Meer said on October 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Normal upgrade installation and activation was easy. However, a clean install on a new hdd in the same computer didn’t work with respect to activation, but cloning the old disk to the new one proved to be the solution: there was no call for re-activation.
    A clean insfallation on a second computer within the same house didn’t work, error code 0xC004008. The suggested workaround didn’t work.

  106. Amyn said on October 29, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Thank you the workaround worked.

  107. guy said on October 29, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Could not locate MediaBootInstall . So it did not work !

  108. mk said on October 29, 2012 at 5:52 am

    – got upgrade offer 14.99 thru some old Win 7.
    – burned the dvd after download.
    – went to desktop booted with dvd
    – it asked for upgrade or advanced option, chose advaced.
    – asked to format drive
    – windows was not activated after reboot
    – tried to activate twice and it got activated in second attempt.
    – may be fluke but worked.

  109. alex said on October 29, 2012 at 3:17 am

    My attempt at installing Win 8 pro over Win 7 pro failed. Computer hung part way through the install. Had to abort. Back to Win 7. Bummer.

  110. Oaks56 said on October 29, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Anyone here know what to do if you’re unable to change the desktop wallpaper or select a theme? I’ve found another thread online where others who’ve done a clean install also ran across this problem.

    One person noticed that, did a clean install of his old OS (Win7) and then ran the upgrade to fix it. Then everything worked.

    If I have to do that I will but maybe there’s an easier way? At least I’m activated now. The only known issue is with the desktop wallpaper and themes.
    I’ve found many threads where people had that problem with Win7.

  111. Oaks56 said on October 29, 2012 at 12:49 am

    The problem I’m having and others in he forum thread above is that I’m unable to change my desktop wallpaper or select a scene (won’t work).

    One poster there stated that he too experienced that after a clean install and re-did it by re-installing the old OS, then running the upgrade. After that, it worked.

    So, maybe this is a glitch of what happens when trying to do a clean install?

    I’d still rather find a cure that re-image my old OS and then do the upgrade.

  112. BJ said on October 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    1. Running a HP Pav dv7 – i5 2.67Ghz, 8GB RAM, Rad5500/Intel Graphic,
    2 X 300GB HD [c:drive has Win7 & d:drive never used]
    2. Download Win8 Upgrade 39.99 and burnt ISO to DVD
    3. Change Boot Order and ran DVD/ISO and selected my d:drive to install
    4. Done Set-up/Reboot in about 30mins. Win8 on d:drive logged in and
    running smoothly.
    5. If I set Win7 as default OS I get that DOS-like screen to select the OS to
    boot into [boot into default Win7 in 30sec if no selection by me]
    6. If I set Win8 as default OS I get that Metro screen to select the Os to
    boot into [boot into default Win8 in 30sec if no selection by me]
    Didn’t need the Reg hack nor cmd commands from GHacks.
    Been running both Win7 and Win8 from my two HDs for last 16hrs switching back and forth with a glitch.
    Did a Win Update on Win8 and did some Personalization too.
    I request a Product key for that free Win Media Center upgrade about 8 hours ago …. haven’t gotten that yet.
    Now that’s a “clean install” :-)

  113. Mike said on October 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I had Windows 7 Home Premium installed on my pc. I used the upgrade assistant to download the Windows 8 file and burnt the ISO file to a DVD. I then installed my brand new Crucial SSD, disconnected my old hard drive, and did a clean install of Windows which activated perfectly ok.

  114. Jamie said on October 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I tried the registry change and it worked.
    The system will not let me install the free Windows Media Center pack saying my key is invalid.

  115. Doc said on October 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I purchased an upgrade for 14.99$ and succeeded in clean install. Having trouble with dual boot ( Win 7 and Win 8). Any luck in that ?

    1. Pot said on October 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      To Dual boot – EASY, just boot from DVD and install to any free partition (logical extended OR primary) . I did have problems doing this with USB installer – EFT prevents install to any MBR partitions.

      1. Eddie said on November 1, 2012 at 4:29 am

        Did you find a way to dual boot using the usb installer? I have a Acer Aspire One netbook and don’t have a dvd drive and don’t have acccess to an external one. My only option at this point is usb install. Also, what is EFT that you refer to preventing install to any MBR partition?
        Thanks in advance for your response.

  116. joseph said on October 28, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I did purchase the upgrade for $14.99 (using the promo code sent by MS), and then burned the downloaded ISO (only 2.63GB) on a DVD+RW, I noticed that it wont boot, I already set the boot preference on BIOS (1st-DVD DRIVE, 2nd-SATA-II HDD, 3rd-WOL), but it won’t boot. I went back to my Windows 7 Ultimate and did the upgrade instead but I want to do clean install.

    Am I missing something here? Or its just DVD-RW won’t boot ? This DVD-RW contains Win8 RTM before and did a full erase using Ashampoo Burning Software.

  117. Anonymous said on October 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    This was my experience with win 8 clean install,
    1. Downloaded upgrade via release preview activation.
    2.Saved iso, then went ahead with desktop upgrade online, activated auto no probs.
    3. Shutdown, Disconnected disk with upgrade. Connected clean formatted disk only.
    4. Offline boot with iso dvd image, 1st attempt brought up error msg 0x80070570.
    5. 2nd attempt, reboot,load bios optimal defaults, when i reached disk, selected delete drive, hit next, and bobs your uncle, it created the mystery reserved partition, and concluded the clean install.
    6. Back online, and activation was auto, updated today and all appears hunky dory. This may have been a fluke, but it may help. have fun.

  118. Loopy said on October 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    The only way to clean install win 8 with (upgrade version) is to install it twice.
    1. First do the clean install from the iso or dvd image onto the bare drive.
    2. Then once that has installed you have to install it again but this time do from inside your newly installed windows. ( the version that you just installed).
    After it has installed for the Second time, it will allow you to activate the OS because it thinks you have upgraded from XP, Vista or 7.

    1. Lowiitu said on November 1, 2012 at 12:11 am

      @Loopy. You’re doing it wrong then or did you not read the article.

  119. Mr T said on October 28, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I tried the upgrade install twice and it reached 99% completion and then failed and kicked me back to Win7. So I did a clean install and Windows told me it couldn’t activate. The Win7 reg hack worked fine though, Windows had already activated after I rebooted.

  120. Wayne said on October 28, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Worked great for me on a fresh install using the iso image downloaded from MS and burned to a DVD.

    This was really a pain for me as, even though I am tech-literate, I didn’t know how this ‘upgrade’ version worked. This was despite extensive searching. I have a full retail copies of XP and Vista, neither of which are installed on any machine. I installed Win8 expecting it to give me the option of inputting one of those keys, then the newly purchased Win8 key. Would that have been so difficult? But no, I have to use a registry hack I found on the internet. And this bypasses the need of using my XP or Vista key to upgrade from, so technically I could reuse them (I won’t though). No wonder piracy is so rampant.

    Thanks for the tip author, saved me my Sunday afternoon rooting around the garage trying to find old Windows boxes for the keys and install media, then two unecessary installs of Windows.

  121. Sam said on October 28, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I have my old Vista ultimate dvd (currently not being used) and want to upgrade to win8. I’ve just sold my current pc (which came with win7 Home Premium). But I want to leave that intact for the guy that bought the PC.

    So, is there a way for me to upgrade to win8 using a clean win8 download, without having to install vista on it first? (I much prefer to install it clean).

    Thanks for any help!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

      All the comments and reports I read so far suggest that you can install using the upgrade DVD.

      1. Ed Karges said on October 29, 2012 at 10:49 am

        I also purchased the Windows 8 Upgrade for Windows 7 for $39.95. I wasn’t able to get it for $14.95 but since I have usually purchased discounted versions of Windows in the past, I felt like I should support Microsoft for this Venture. I didn’t have any problems performing a Clean Install of
        Windows 8. I also ran the Windows Upgrade Assistant on my Windows 7 PC and Ordered it from this computer – I saw an article that Microsoft checks you system and determines which version of Windows 8 to send you (I have the 64 bit version). They sent me my Activation Key with the Order and the Install went smoothly without a hitch. Even during the installation there is an option to either Upgrade or Customize (such as selecting which Drive to install to, etc. I think the fact that Microsoft checks your System beforehand has something to do with what they allow you to do. If you try to run the Setup from within Windows your only option will be an Upgraded Installation. I used the bootable DVD after I burned the image to my DVD+ R Blank Media. Good Luck to everyone else.

  122. Jon said on October 28, 2012 at 5:17 am

    ^ So then… is there a way to get win 8 on there clean install?

  123. DP said on October 28, 2012 at 5:17 am

    I used the upgrade ISO to install on a virtual machine on my Mac. After installation, I noticed that I couldn’t activate. Tried the workaround and now Windows 8 is activated!

  124. yclee said on October 28, 2012 at 4:40 am

    this work around didn’t work for me during win7 clean install using upgrade disc.

    i had to do a double install.

    for win8, i did upgrade, then do fresh install from within win8, basically the long about ways of doing double install since double install is not allowed now in win8.

  125. Jon said on October 28, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Does that work around work with Mac boot camp? If not, what will?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

      If you read all the comments here you will notice that it is possible.

  126. Bob Penn said on October 28, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Update: I also didn’t have to re-activate after the reboot. It just remembered the serial number I entered during the Parallel’s installation.

  127. Bob Penn said on October 28, 2012 at 2:09 am

    I did a clean install of Win8 upgrade with Parallels. It wasn’t activated. Then I did your tip. It’s activated now! Thanks.

  128. Jason said on October 28, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Thank you! This worked a treat, I rebooted windows and didn’t have to activate as it was already activated when I went to complete the process.

    No reinstall for me!

  129. Lowiitu said on October 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    1 )Can you use a Windows 8 Pro Upgrade license to install and activate the operating system on a PC with no prior version of Windows?

    I must have missed something because i’m still none the wiser as to the answer to this. Blank hard drive and boxed upgrade media.

    I see the workaround part at the end of the article but that’s after installation i assume. Is it going to stop me mid-install and ask for anything (key) that could stop the installation process?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 28, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Yes you can do that but need the workaround mentioned at the end of the article.

  130. Schultz said on October 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I was able to activate the Win8 Pro after “clean hdd” installation using the workaround.

    Thank you!

  131. Chris said on October 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Worked like a charm. Thank you very much,

  132. eugene said on October 27, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you for that work around! It was a life saver. I was about to kill a sales man who after I asked him if Windows 8 pro only works for upgrades, told me that it will work for a clean install… Murder averted :)

  133. Charles Wade said on October 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    It worked great for me installing Windows 8 Pro onto BootCamp partition with clean install. Prior to the regedit it was giving me the error that my key was only good for upgrade of existing OS and after it activated just fine. Thanks so much!!!

  134. Tim said on October 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm


    If you’re a Desktop user and prefer to not use the apps, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can change what opens what from Control Panel > Default Programs

    Here you go, not an “App” or a funny coloured tile in sight (well, except one):

  135. Csantana said on October 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    worked like a charm on a windows 8 fresh install thanks!!

  136. Paul B. said on October 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I once copied over the c:\windows\system32\config directory to a blank HDD, and that was all Windows needed to see an upgrade situation. But I don’t know if that still holds.

  137. Larry said on October 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I was running windows 8 preview when I did a clean install of windows 8 pro. Activation failed with error message key can only be used for upgrading not for clean installation. The workaround worked great, thank you.

  138. Gayan said on October 27, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    P.S: Another thing, I really don’t like the fact that every time I click on an app, a Metro app opens it by default.

    For example, Windows should be intelligent enough to realize that I am using a notebook computer, therefore, when I’m using the file explorer and opens an mp3 or a PDF, that it should be opened using a ‘standard’ app rather than through one of the ‘Metro’ ones.

    This was my other biggest frustration, but I installed KMPlayer, Sumatra PDF and set other popular file extensions to be opened by the usual ‘standard’ desktop apss … now everything looks good.

  139. Gayan said on October 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Hi Martin,

    I downloaded the 2GB + Windows 8 64-bit today and did a clean installation.

    What I did was simple. Once the download completed, I used the installer and put Windows 8 to my USB, backup my data to the other partition (had Windows 7), then booted using the USB drive and reformatted the Windows 7 partition and performed a clean and a successful installation :).

    This is the first time that I have ever used Windows 8 (I’m an Ubuntu geek :D). And at first, I thought this was a disaster, but then, I removed the default apps on the ‘Start’ window, added my favorite ones to it, and enjoying every moment of it.

    I’m not saying it is perfect, nor that I agree with some of the UI implementations. Nevertheless, from a performance point of view (plus W8 manages power very well in by Vostro v131), Windows 8 looks really good.

    Then again, Ubuntu might not be quite there yet, but I like the Unity desktop’s approach of trying to design a desktop UI that can be functioned in a universal fashion, still retaining a somewhat classic looking desktop.

  140. Ross said on October 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Had an installed RTM from a month ago (with modified ei.cfg file).
    Ran the ‘Upgrade Assistant’ in XP Compatibility Mode.
    Purchased Windows 8 key. Activated.

    1. JohnMWhite said on October 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      I ran it in the normal mode first and was told that Windows 8 is not available in my region. I guess Michigan seceded from the union last night? Anyway, running it in XP mode got rid of that issue at least.

  141. Richard Steven Hack said on October 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Watch the MyDigitalLife Web site forums. Someone over there will figure out how to do it and/or write a utility to do it. Those guys are amazing. They’ll hack, crack and beat the daylights out of any Windows made. Much of it won’t be legal, but it will work.

  142. DD said on October 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    My experience:
    Running Win7 enterprise acquired from Technet years ago
    Applied for the Win7 promo code successfully
    Purchased using the code via the upgrade assistant for $15
    Downloaded and created an ISO from the files, and burnt this to a disc
    Booted to disc on a completely separate PC (also running Win7)
    Deleted all partitions and clean installed Win8 with 0 issues

    1. Backlin said on October 28, 2012 at 1:47 am

      THANK YOU!!!

      Seriously, I was searching all over the net to certify this.

  143. Jaco said on October 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for the tip man it worked for me. I had a client who had to fresh install because she had probplems with her old hdd. So after installeing it was giving the error message mentioned above because it was an upgarde copy that she bought, i edited the registry as above and presto it worked. I had to restart though as it seems shuttingdown and staring up again did not do the trick, funny huh. In any case thanks man you saved me a lot of hassles.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Great that it worked out for your client. The shutdown in Windows 8 is not a real shutdown, see

  144. Joe Harrison said on October 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

    That work around worked fine for me, thank you. (Parallels brand new VM on Mac with Win 8 Pro)

    1. reptile said on June 12, 2013 at 3:28 am

      for full clean install do this step.

      select custom install from your cd or usb.
      let windows install.if it doesn’t activate here is the trick.
      repeat step 1,now repeat step 2
      wollah now windows is activated cool.

    2. Adrian M said on March 24, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      I am extremely thankful with your tip, worked very well for me except for a minor thing.

      I was able to activate with my original key, The Build 9200 watermark dissapeared, I can now add functions to Windows such as the optional Windows player Media thing.

      Only thing is I have not be able to get rid of those darn wallpaper flowers at desktop (theme)

      I am able to select a solid color as background but no photos or whatsoever as it will revert to the flowers theme.

      Do you know any workaround for this?

      Thanks again

    3. zed said on October 29, 2012 at 5:34 am

      I don’t know how to thank you. The work around worked perfectly.

      12 hours later and I have a clean Windows 8 Pro install on a Parallels VM.


    4. Martin Brinkmann said on October 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Great that it is working. Thanks for the confirmation.

      1. jobs said on February 13, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        I thought i have no other option except reinstalling win 7 but you nailed it. it is indeed a beautiful piece of information. Thank you much for explaining in detail. i stuck on some points during the install as they were somewhere not told in your article but it didnt hinder the installation.

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