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Unattended Windows 8.1 Pro installation and Firmware integrated license key RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have a brand new Lenovo Thinkpad that comes with a Windows 8 Pro license. According to what I read, the product key for Windows 8 for this machine is integrated into its firmware so I should be able to install a Windows 8 or 8.1 on it without need of a product key.

    The machine came preloaded with Windows 7 and a recovery set of DVDs for Windows 8. I want to do a fresh installation of Windows 8.1 directly. This is a pilot device for our new generation of PCs. Therefore I want to use an unattended installation that is automated with a XML response file.

    The problem is now with the product key. When I do not specify a product key in the response file, then the installation fails. When I specify some other key in the response file (such as one from our MSDN subscription) then the installation succeeds and Windows 8.1 automatically activates itself - but apparently using that MSDN key and not the one from the machine's firmware.

    How can that problem be solved?

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:47 PM

Answers

  • The custom OS that is pre-installed by Lenovo uses a different Install Key than the one I linked to. That other product key instructs the OS to read the activation key from the BIOS. If you use the public install key (meant for OEM System Builder Kit OS) it will not automatically look into the BIOS. The product key you require is not available to the public.

    Ideally, to work around this issue, you would have Lenovo create custom images for your company.

    • Marked as answer by Yolanda Zhu Tuesday, March 25, 2014 3:06 AM
    Thursday, March 13, 2014 3:40 PM
  • The previous reply marked as answer is not correct.

    After installing a sample system and doing a sysprep, the resulting image will automatically activate with the MSDM-area key from the firmware just fine and without any user action needed.

    And that is exactly what I need!

    NO special key is needed. The "key" is doing a sysprep!



    Monday, March 31, 2014 6:09 PM

All replies

  • You need to use the default product key. You can find them here:

    http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/installation/downloads/pages/windows-8-adk.aspx

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:52 PM
  • Thanks for the answer, but it solves only half of my problem.

    I can get through the installation with the default key. But then I cannot activate the system. It tells me that the key is not valid (well, true, the default key). But how do I get it to recognize the key stored in the computer's firmware?

    The Thinkpad has a "Windows 8" license sticker with just the Windows logo but no product key on it. This means, the product key is stored in its firmware memory.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 4:38 PM
  • By further research I found out that I can use a utility called "RW Everything" to read out the actual Windows 8 product key embedded in the computer's firmware. Then I was able to successfully activate Windows 8.1 straight away using this product key.

    Well, I have "solved" the problem but it is a bit of a cumbersome way. The question remains why Windows 8.1 is not able to read out the product key from the computer's firmware itself.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014 6:02 PM
  • Is it possible that the functionality of being able to retrieve the product key from the computer firmware is not built into all Windows 8.x Pro installation images? The one I use is from MSDN or MS Partner Network ...

    Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:13 AM
  • The custom OS that is pre-installed by Lenovo uses a different Install Key than the one I linked to. That other product key instructs the OS to read the activation key from the BIOS. If you use the public install key (meant for OEM System Builder Kit OS) it will not automatically look into the BIOS. The product key you require is not available to the public.

    Ideally, to work around this issue, you would have Lenovo create custom images for your company.

    • Marked as answer by Yolanda Zhu Tuesday, March 25, 2014 3:06 AM
    Thursday, March 13, 2014 3:40 PM
  • The previous reply marked as answer is not correct.

    After installing a sample system and doing a sysprep, the resulting image will automatically activate with the MSDM-area key from the firmware just fine and without any user action needed.

    And that is exactly what I need!

    NO special key is needed. The "key" is doing a sysprep!



    Monday, March 31, 2014 6:09 PM