We are switching our environment from windows 7 to windows 8.1 and I have a bunch of Dell computers I need to roll out with windows 10 pro keys in the bios that I have to install windows 8.1 pro on. According to these 2 articles from both Dell and Microsoft this is possible:



The instructions in these articles don't work the installation will always ask for a key and when you call Dell to ask how to do it they tell you to follow the instructions in these articles.

What I need is:

  1. A way to cleanly install and activate windows 8.1 on these computers
  2. To automate to process using windows deployment tools

This is not a question about licensing I am trying to figure how to get the windows 8.1 installer to recognize the OEM key in the bios. This isn't a question about if I am in entitled this license or not, I already confirmed with Dell and Microsoft support that I am. I wanted to know I just needed to know how to get the installer to see the license in the bios

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    @GregAskew This isn't a question about licensing, its a question about how to get the installer to recognize the license – TheStarvingGeek Dec 8 '16 at 21:38

Ask Dell for a OEM install's media. Usually they would charge you like 5$ for it, but worth to have it. As those media install come pre-activated for your hardware. (no need to enter the key)

Check step 3 from the first link.

Perform the downgrade process to the eligible downgrade product using the media/key from a genuine, previously licensed OEM or retail product.

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  • We have dell windows 8.1 installation media already but it still asks for a key and already did step 3 (also asks for key) according to both Microsoft and Dell downgrade is included and Dell says it should activate with Windows 10 key in bios – TheStarvingGeek Dec 8 '16 at 20:40
  • You will need a key- from the Microsoft link - "Use genuine Windows media and a corresponding product key for the version of Windows that is eligible for downgrade. The media/key should come from a previously licensed product from the OEM or retail channel." – Jim B Dec 8 '16 at 20:48
  • Yes? thats all true, windows 10 pro OEM is both eligible for downgrade and a licensed product from the OEM channel. According to Dell the windows 8.1 installation should recognize the 10 bios key and install – TheStarvingGeek Dec 8 '16 at 20:54
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    A Dell OEM disc will recognize it. We downgrade to Windows 7 using Dell OEM Windows 7 media on a Windows 10 OEM licensed machine. It does not prompt for a product key and is activated. – AtomicFireball Dec 9 '16 at 13:54
  • @AtomicFireball I don't know how that works for you, all i can tell you is i have a dell oem windows 8.1 installation disc from Dell and it asked me for a key until i made my own copy and injected the windows updates – TheStarvingGeek Dec 9 '16 at 14:07

I figured it out.

KB3044374 is the windows update that allows windows 8.1 to activate with a windows 10 OEM key. (I verified this on 2 computers)

  1. A way to cleanly install and activate windows 8.1 on these computers.

Go to https://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Home.aspx and download KB3044374

Once downloaded install the update and windows should activate automatically

  1. To automate to process using windows deployment tools

Once you have done that take a windows 8.1 installation media and extract the "install.wim" and "boot.wim" files from it and save them somewhere

Then take KB3044374 you downloaded and inject it into install.wim file using these commands:

dism /mount-wim /wimfile:C:\Path_To_wim\install.wim /mountdir:C:\Mount_Point /index:1

dism /image:"C:\Mount_point" /Add-Package /PackagePath:"C:\Path_to_updates"

dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:C:\Mount_point /commit

These commands will mount the wim file, inject KB3044374, and dismount the wim file

Use the updated wim file to install windows 8.1 and it wiil accept the windows 10 OEM key automatically

One final note if you are trying to inject KB3044374 from windows 7 you will need to use the copy of dism included on the windows 8.1 installation media under sources because the version of dism on windows 7 is incorrect

If the above doesn't work simply run windows update after the installation and install all of the updates. Once that is done download this tool: https://github.com/Superfly-Inc/ShowKeyPlus/releases

and use the OEM Key to activate your copy of windows. You may need to enter a product key in order to complete the installation, if you are asked for a product key you can enter one of the ones listed here as a place holder until you are able to install the windows updates and enter the correct one: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx

If you are using WDS to install Windows 8.1 then you can enter the generic product key into the answer file under amd64_Microsoft-Windows-Setup_neutral > UserData > ProductKey

You're all welcome

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