How to Install Windows 8 without a Product Key

#1
How to Install Windows 8 without a Product Key

http://tweaks.com/windows/65179/how-to-install-windows-8-without-a-product-key/

"For the first time since Windows XP, Microsoft is forcing users to enter a product key before Windows can be installed. This can be very annoying for legitimate users that simply want to install Windows 8 for testing. "

Note: The free MicrosoftWindows® Assessment and Deployment Kit is required to create the .iso file. To install the Windows ADK, your computer must be running one of the following operating systems:

• Windows® 8
• Windows® 7
• Windows Server® 2012
• Windows Server® 2008 R2
• Windows Vista®
• Windows Server® 2008

The steps described work. I have used the .iso file created to install a VM Windows 8 Pro without a product key. Starting with a Win 8 Pro upgrade ($40 until 1/31/2013) DVD instead of an .iso file, I copied the DVD to C:\Win8ISO folder in step 1 of "Once all the prerequisites are completed" section of the instructions. Following the remaining instructions created a good Windows 8 installation .iso file.

One problem, when I tried to create a DVD from the .iso file, the DVD install failed with error:

"Windows cannot install the required files. ... Error code 0x80070714" .

Have not yet determined the reason for this error when the modified DVD is used instead of the .iso file.

 
Last edited:

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#2
I believe there is a Microsoft-issued product key floating around the net which will install but not activate Windows 8.

If you have a copy of the RC, you can access it by attempting to activate. It'll show you the "invalid" key.
 
#3
Computer Guru,

The first thing that I did when I bought the Win 8 Pro Upgrade was to install an x64 VM with VMWARE Workstation 9.0.0 from the Win 8 DVD. When prompted for a Product Key I did not want to waste my purchased key, so I tried the RC key: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF (http://www.freewindows8.org/windows-8-product-key) and although the key was flagged as invalid the installation continued successfully.

Recently, after upgrading to VMWARE Workstation 9.0.1, attempting to install x64 VM with 9.0.1 from the Win 8 DVD produced the error message:

"The unattend answer file contains an invalid product key. Either remove the invalid key or provide a valid product key in the unattend answer file to proceed with Windows installation". The only option is to click on the OK button which produces the same error message.

Trying to install with a blank product key produced the Windows Setup error message:

"Windows cannot find the Microsoft Software License Terms. Make sure the installation sources are valid and restart the installation."

The ISO file created with the method described in my first post can be used to install Windows 8 without a Product Key on both VMWARE Workstation 9.0.0 and 9.0.1.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#4
There are various hacks published online according to a Google search I just did, but no matter what method used will need a product key eventually.
 
#5
Ex_Brit,

I create many Windows VMs for testing and delete them before the trial period or extended trial periods expire. The new Windows 8 license allows you to install Win 8 with your purchased Product Key on one physical machine and one Virtual Machine on the same physical machine where Win 8 is installed. Additional Win 8 installations require the purchase of a new Product Key.

Until Jan 31, 2013 the Windows Pro upgrade is $40. After that date the price will increase significantly.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#6
I agree.. I should have added 'needed eventually when the activation period elapses'.
 
#7
I agree.. I should have added 'needed eventually when the activation period elapses'.
Even if you added "if you want to keep it working" to your amended statement,
there is one exception that still falsifies the statement. I do not want that blocked by mentioning it online.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#8
No comment...:wink:
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#9
I assume the slmgr /rearm command still works for Windows 8?
 
#10
What I wrote about Win 8 license for virtual machines is wrong.

Ex_Brit,

I create many Windows VMs for testing and delete them before the trial period or extended trial periods expire. The new Windows 8 license allows you to install Win 8 with your purchased Product Key on one physical machine and one Virtual Machine on the same physical machine where Win 8 is installed. Additional Win 8 installations require the purchase of a new Product Key.

Until Jan 31, 2013 the Windows Pro upgrade is $40. After that date the price will increase significantly.
The bold information that I posted is wrong. It is what I read in a magazine article in August. The actual License for Windows 8 reads:

"e. Use in a virtualized environment. If you use virtualization software to create one or more virtual computers on a single computer hardware system, each virtual computer, and the physical computer, is considered a separate computer for purposes of this agreement. This license allows you to install only one copy of the software for use on one computer, whether that computer is physical or virtual. If you want to use the software on more than one virtual computer, you must obtain separate copies of the software and a separate license for each copy. Content protected by digital rights management technology or other full-volume disk drive encryption technology may be less secure in a virtualized environment."

And the related section reads:

"Can I transfer the software to another computer or user?
You may transfer the software to another computer that belongs to you. You may also transfer the software (together with the license) to a computer owned by someone else if a) you are the first licensed user of the software and b) the new user agrees to the terms of this agreement. To make that transfer, you must transfer the original media, the certificate of authenticity, the product key and the proof of purchase directly to that other person, without retaining any copies of the software. You may use the backup copy we allow you to make or the media that the software came on to transfer the software. Anytime you transfer the software to a new computer, you must remove the software from the prior computer. You may not transfer the software to share licenses between computers. You may transfer Get Genuine Windows software, Pro Pack or Media Center Pack software only together with the licensed computer."

The above makes the use of Win 8 trial installations even more valuable.
 
Last edited:

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#11
Thanks for the clarification. :wink:
 
#12
Update to First Post

I have successfuly tested the modified Window 8 Pro ISO file by installing a Win 8 Pro VM with Workstation 9.0.1 and a DVD created from the ISO file to do a physical install. Attempts to install a VM from the DVD install fail with error:

"Windows cannot install the required files. ... Error code 0x80070714" .

Comparision of the genuine Win 8 Pro DVD and the DVDs created from the ISO file differ only in the modified EI.CFG file. I have tried different methods of creating the DVD from the ISO file but all DVDs gave the same result including one created with the Win 8 built-in ISO to DVD burner.
 
#13
No error when installing from DVD

How to Install Windows 8 without a Product Key

One problem, when I tried to create a DVD from the .iso file, the DVD install failed with error:

"Windows cannot install the required files. ... Error code 0x80070714" .

Have not yet determined the reason for this error when the modified DVD is used instead of the .iso file.

Just finished installing Win 8 Pro Trial VM with DVD created from modified .iso file. Used same DVD that previous got 0x80070714 error. Install did not encounter any errors.

This is the first time that I have retried this DVD since my first post. Problem must have been fixed by one of the updates download by the Windows install process.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#14
Hmmm, I just tried to upgrade a Windows 7 test machine to Windows 8 but did not want to use one of my actual CD keys (I just need to test a particular scenario and will reformat again tomorrow) but the modified ISO route did not work for me. Perhaps it only works when booting from the CD and not when running the setup.exe from within Windows to perform an upgrade install?

Used a valid CD key that's been blacklisted so it'll install but not activate, giving me time to run my experiment and run like hell away from Windows 8 once more.

Addendum

Oh, I guess I should add: the reason I didn't use my own is because Windows setup made it sound like it would automatically activate my CD Key upon completion of setup? Whereas previously you'd have to manually choose to activate Windows?
 

Mak 2.0

Mod...WAFFLES!?!?
Staff member
#15
That is correct. Once Windows 8 boots and connects to the internet it will automatically activate. No more input is needed from the user on that aspect. In fact Windows 8 PC's and laptops sold via stores do not come activated. I had to call and activate the displays at work so that I could install our company software on them.