Clean install Windows 8.1 or 8 using the included OEM license in the BIOS

I am having to set up quite a few Windows 8 machines for friends and family, which come preinstalled with Windows 8 and no COA product key on the machine, just a small Windows 8 sticker. These machines have the Windows 8 key embedded into the BIOS. So, what do you do if you want to format the machine?

Many of the machines I have seen, especially Acer, come with horrible crapware including McAfee Internet Security, which can be a pain to get rid of. What I do now, is just format the machine immediately because it is quicker than removing all the crap loaded by the OEM. The good news is that there is no COA sticker to fade or come off, and all you need to do is find some Windows 8 media and reinstall the Operating System. Setup detects the key in the BIOS and you do not get asked for a key during setup, and it also detects the correct Windows version. When you logon, you find that Windows is already activated, so it couldn’t be easier.

The main issue with this, is that no OEMs I know ship the actual media with a Windows laptop. But, you can use TechNet (R.I.P.) or MSDN bootable media with no problems. I use a bootable USB key with TechNet media.

Update: Windows 8.1 unfortunately does not accept Windows 8 product keys. So if you try this on a machine which shipped with Windows 8, it does not work and you have to enter a key. This is odd seeing as 8.1 is a free upgrade. I assume that this will not be an issue for machines which shipped with Windows 8.1.

17 thoughts on “Clean install Windows 8.1 or 8 using the included OEM license in the BIOS”

  1. ***The main issue with this, is that no OEMs I know ship the actual media with a Windows laptop. But, you can use TechNet (R.I.P.) or MSDN bootable media with no problems. I use a bootable USB key with TechNet media.

    Update: Windows 8.1 unfortunately does not accept Windows 8 product keys. So if you try this on a machine which shipped with Windows 8, it does not work and you have to enter a key. This is odd seeing as 8.1 is a free upgrade. I assume that this will not be an issue for machines which shipped with Windows 8.1.***

    Your problem is in using of Technet/MSDN media. This media is from another distribution canal and we accept only keys from same distribution canal (Technet/MSDN). Only OEM Windows media accept OEM keys …

  2. No that is not true, what I have been doing up until now is using TechNet media on Windows 8 machines with the key embedded, and it just installs and is activated, there is no issue with TechNet media and OEM keys using 8.0. What does not work is 8.1 media with 8.0 keys…

    1. Hola tengo un pez ángel y se encontraba byen en poco tiempo lo encontré en el fondo del la pecera y le costab trabajo respirar y nadar se queda todo el tiempo abajo y no flota!!!! Abra comido mucho??? Espero me puedas ayudar!!! Gracias!!

    2. Olá Ico Mesmo atrasado tenho uma pergunta;A FIA proibiu a partir de 2009 aqueles elementos aerodinâmicos ( pinduricalhos ) em torno do F1. Como forma de burlar esta regra as equipes usavam um suposto suporte para o retrovisor como um elemento aerodinâmico. Assim a FIA também proibiu isto, mas ainda vemos os antigos suportes dos retrovisores ao lado das entradas de ar, só que agora sem os retrovisores em cima.A pergunta é : Pode usar este elemento aerodinâmico ao lado do carro ?Um abraço

  3. Some people have better things to do with their time.

    An unattended Win8 install + automatic My Docs / Pictures / whatever restore guarantees any bloatware, spyware, or other issues are resolved. It means way less hands-on time as well, so they can work on other machines (and make more money) at the same time.

  4. Exactly… removing all the crap bundled with a PC is much more painful than formatting it. Even doing a manual install, you end up with a nice clean machine as JTX says with no bloatware. Unattended install is nice but not always practical, that depends largely on how many machines you are doing.

    1. – Congratulations Betsy! You did it!! You’re an amazing women to be able to manage a family, your photography business and school all at the same time. Quite the accomplishment! Now take some time for yourself…relax and enjoy the things you like best!

  5. Hi Bob! I’ve read that you can finish the 8.1 Installer by using a generic key and then activate 8.1 by using your 8.0 key (you have to read it out) – that should work. Have you tried tht already? If yes, did it work? If no, I will update you in couple of days 😉

  6. Using the 8.1 Installer by using a generic key and then activate 8.1 by using your 8.0 key (that you have to read out with a 3rd party utility) does not appear to work 🙁

  7. It actually worked!
    I’ve read out my OEM 8.0 key, changed the hard-drive, installed non-OEM 8.1, completed the setup by entering generic 8.1 key, changed the key to my 8.0 key after first boot, now have an activated non-OEM 8.1 🙂

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