Many of you may have noticed that manufacturers stopped placing the convenient sticker on the bottom of your Windows 8/8.1 devices that contains the Windows product key. In some ways this is beneficial in others it’s a hassle.
- Someone can’t steal your product key just by looking at the bottom or back of your device
- On laptops especially, the stickers tend to get worn to the point you can’t read them anymore which is a problem if you can’t recover it through the operating system
- You can’t look on the bottom and get the product key
- You have to use a special tool to retrieve your product key from BIOS
All PC’s that come with Windows 8 now have the product key encrypted in the BIOS. Microsoft put this in place to prevent illicit use of OEM product keys on other PC’s. If you are trying to update from Windows 8 to 8.1 you can do it through the Windows Store (which is free to do). If you have the latest Windows updates installed you should be able to go to the Windows Store and see the Windows 8.1 upgrade tile. Click the upgrade tile, check the product key and update to Windows 8.1.
3 Ways to Find Your Product Key
- Check the Retail box. There should be a card inside with the product key written on it.
- Download RW-Everything here install it, go to the ACPI button or click Access -> ACPI Tables, click the MSDM tab and the data field at the bottom is your product key.
- If you purchased an upgrade and retail copy it will be included in the email or on the box.
If you need to change your product key: go to the charms menu, select search, type Run (to launch the run window), type SLUI 3 in the window and hit enter. This will bring you to the activation screen where you can enter a product key.
Here is a link to download the Windows 8.1 Upgrade as well: Windows 8.1 Upgrade
Download Windows with only a Product Key (from Microsoft’s website here)
***You can use this if you are wanting to perform a clean install of Windows 8/8.1 as well***
If you bought Windows 8.1 or Windows 8, you can download and install Windows from this page using just your product key. You’ll have the option to install Windows now, later, or using media with an ISO file.
Before you begin:
Make sure you’re on the PC you want to upgrade. If you’re updating to Windows 8.1, this PC must be running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 Preview. If you already have the latest version of Windows 8 installed on your PC, you can update to Windows 8.1 in the Windows Store for free.
If you’re upgrading to Windows 8, this PC must be running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3), Windows 8 Release Preview, Windows 8 Consumer Preview, or Windows Developer Preview.
Windows Setup checks that your PC meets all system requirements before it installs Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.
Have your product key handy. You can find it in your online order info, in the confirmation email for your purchase, or on the DVD packaging. The product key is a 25-character code that looks something like this:
XXXXX- XXXXX- XXXXX- XXXXX- XXXXX.
Make a backup of everything you want to keep. Save it somewhere you can get to it later, like an external drive or a DVD.
Don’t format your hard drive before installing Windows. Your current version of Windows must be running when you begin installing Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.
When you’re ready, tap or click Install Windows 8.1 if you have a Windows 8.1 product key, or tap or click Install Windows 8 if you have a Windows 8 product key.
If you can’t find your product key, check your online order info, confirmation email, or DVD packaging. For more info, see What is a product key?
If you’re having trouble activating Windows, see Why can’t I activate Windows?
You can’t use Upgrade Assistant to upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows. You’ll need to buy a Windows DVD to upgrade, but you won’t be able to keep your files, apps, and settings.