Download Windows 8.1 Retail iso
- Opening Remarks
- Downloading the Windows 8.1 Retail .iso using a Windows 8.0 Retail Product Key [Workaround 1 for the Windows 8.1 Retail Downloader Rejecting the Windows 8.0 Retail Product Key]
- Downloading the Windows 8.1 Retail .iso using a Windows 8.1 Retail Product Key
- Bootable USB
- Notes on Swapping Architecture [Workaround 2 - Using the Windows 8.1 Enterprise .iso to swap Architecture]
- The We Can’t Connect at the Moment Error
- Standalone Updates
- Installation Product Key Rejected Notes [Workaround 3 for Installing Windows 8.1 - the Windows 8 Retail .iso is Rejected during Installation, Workaround 4 Change Key for product Activation, Workaround 5 Obtaining your BIOS System Locked Preinstallation Key with RWEverything,]
- Adding a IE.cfg and PID.txt file
- Detailed Installation Instructions
- Unofficial Sources
- Buying Windows 8.1 via Download
First as an opening remark for why I had to write this wiki with so many convoluted workarounds.
- Microsoft made all Windows 8.1 media reject Windows 8.0 OEM/Retail product keys. → Workaround involves installation with generic product key and activating with Windows 8.0 product key.
- Microsoft made the downloader for Windows 8.1 reject Windows 8.0 product keys despite Windows 8.1 being a free update or Service Pack for Windows 8.0. → Workaround involves launching the Windows 8.0 downloader entering the key and then cancelling as the download starts and then immediately launching the Windows 8.1 downloader. This bypasses the screen to enter the Windows 8.1 product key.
- Microsoft made OEM BIOS Embedded product keys hidden → Fixed by obtaining the product key with RW-Everything.
- Microsoft unnecessarily elevated system requirements for the 64 Bit version of the service pack users who don’t met the elevated system requirements much switch from 64 Bit to 32 Bit. Moreover the downloader only lets you download the same architecture as currently installed. You need to use a Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 64 Bit computer to download the Windows 8.1 64 Bit retail .iso and a Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 32 Bit computer to download a Windows 8.1 32 Bit .iso. → Fixed by clean installing with the 90 day Enterprise Evaluation Windows 8.1 .iso and then running the downloader.
- Microsoft unfortunately made the retail downloader inaccessible for major OEM vendor and small system builder OEM Product Keys. → No current fix to use the downloader except to use a retail key if you have one or obtain a MSDN/Technet .iso from unofficial sources.
- Note the download requires a retail product key (Windows 8.0 or 8.1) and will not work with OEM Product Keys from major vendors which are hidden and reside within the system BIOS or minor system builder OEM licenses with a 25 digit product code.
- The .iso obtained via this method is locked to the Windows edition (Core or Professional) unlike a MSDN/Technet .iso. It is however possible to download a retail .iso and use it to clean install on an OEM system providing both license are Windows 8.0/8.1 (C0re) or both licenses are Windows 8.0/8.1 Professional.
I have no idea why Microsoft made these flaws with Windows 8.1’s media distribution and warned about them during the release of Windows 8.0. The fact is OEMs do not always install Windows properly and this combined with the forcing of such a critical update via the Microsoft store leads to a very negative migration to Windows 8.1 for many a user. I hope Microsoft will provide direct links to an updated Windows 8.1 .iso which will accept Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 product keys or access to one for users with a registered Microsoft Account and activated Windows 8.0/8.1 product.
How to download a Windows 8.1 .iso with a windows 8.0 Product Key
Note it appears Microsoft have released an updated Windows 8.1 setup file which does not work using the bypass product key entry when the Windows 8.0 product key is selected, however the direct link to the old installer should still work and has been listed below.
Note if you run WindowsSetupBox.exe directly it will reject your Windows 8 product key. I will use the UK setups as an example here. Run the Windows8-Setup
Enter your Windows 8 Product Key
Follow through the instructions and press next. When Windows 8 starts downloading cancel the setup. Now run WindowsSetupBox.exe The Windows 8.1 installer will now start downloading directly because you have entered a valid product key with the Windows 8 installer and the checks have passed i.e. will skip the part where you are prompted to enter a product key.
Downloading a Windows 8.1 Retail .iso with a Windows 8.1 Retail Product Key
Note it appears Microsoft have released an updated Windows 8.1 setup file (OSGS14-WindowsSetupBox-32bitand64bit-English-4141408.exe) which does not work using the bypass product key entry when the Windows 8.0 product key is selected and can only be used for Windows 8.1 product keys. I have not tested this new installer as I don’t have a Windows 8.1 Product key but it appears it allows selection of architecture and possibly will include Windows 8.1 Update 1.
From older version…
First download both WindowsSetupBox.exe (Windows 8.1) and save (do not run). For UK and US customers use the link below. For other customers change en-gb to your region.
- UK Customers: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/upgrade-product-key-only
- US Customers: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/upgrade-product-key-only
Run WindowsSetupBox.exe directly
Enter your Windows 8.1 Product Key
Follow through the instructions and press next. When Windows 8 starts downloading cancel the setup. Windows 8.1 will then begin to download.
Creating the Bootable USB
You may use Rufus to create a bootable USB:
Rufus does not need to be installed and can be run directly by double clicking on the application
Use the drop down arrow to select your device.
Press the disc button and browse for the Windows 7 .iso and select open
The partition scheme and target system type set as MBR partition Scheme for BIOS or UEFI Computers by default and this can be used in most cases. In the rare case where you need to install on a 3 TB or larger drive with a SecureBoot/UEFI BIOS select GPT partition scheme for UEFI computer (I have not tested this). Select Start.
It will begin creating the bootable USB.
The status will say done and the progress bar will be full when complete, you can now close down the program.
Swapping Architecture and bare Hard Drive Installation
Unfortunately Microsoft did not incorporate a means to select the architecture with the Windows 8.1 retail downloader. Microsoft also failed to provide a direct download to the the retail .iso. If you need to swap architecture or clean install on a bare hard drive and don’t have the .iso in advance then your best means of doing this is by using the Windows 8.1 90 Day Enterprise .iso and then running the retail downloader.
The “We can’t Connect at the Moment” error.
Unfortunately even the errors with the Windows 8.1 downloader are badly worded…
This is a badly worded error resulting in much wastage of time trying to diagnose connection errors. This error ironically shows after it says the key is recognised and stated to be okay. As mentioned before there are many flaws with the Windows 8.0/Windows 8.1 downloader and I am not a fan of it. Essentially the downloader is rejecting your key despite telling you its valid and you can try all fixes to connect it to the internet and time settings but its unlikely to help. This error is exclusively due to the downloader rejecting the key and not due to the fact that you are trying to download a Windows 8.1 .iso. The generic key is recognised for instance and then will always show this error. Both of my keys previously worked and now yield this error if I input them into the downloader; I assume some quota is put per download per key; in order to stop piracy. The error should be reworded something similar to:
“Your product key has been recognised as a Windows 8.0/8.1 Core/Professional Product Key however has been used to download Windows 8.0/8.1 Core/Professional too many times please contact the Microsoft Electronic Software Download Support for your region http://support.microsoft.com/gp/esd-support-phone-numbers“
Note if you are getting this error when you are contacting Electronic Software mention you are just trying to download Windows 8.0 (as the error is occurring at this stage) as they will likely try to sell you a new product key if you mention you are trying to download Windows 8.1. Microsoft have some absurd policies in this area considering its meant to be a free update. I would assume Microsoft should be doing their best to make migration to Windows 8.1 as easy as possible but it seems like they have deliberately set up some serious roadblocks for their users.
Its recommended that you download Windows 8.1 Standalone Updates from here and apply them immediately after installation.
If installing with a Windows 8.0 Retail or OEM Product Key; your product key is rejected during installation. To overcome this use the following product keys during installation:
- Windows 8.1 Core/Home 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT
- Windows 8.1 Professional XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB
These will allow installation but not product activation. After installation to activate with your actual Windows 8 Product Key open up Windows explorer by pressing [Windows] and [e] and select computer > properties:
Select change product key and enter your actual Windows 8 product key, You should now be able to activate Windows and have a clean install of Windows 8.1 using official media. To find out the OEM BIOS Embedded System locked Product Key use RWEverything, select ACPI Tables and the MSDM tab, copy down your product key.
- [OEM/Retail] Installation of Windows 8.1 with a Windows 8.0 Product Key Notes
- [OEM] Obtaining your BIOS Embedded SLP Product Key using RW-Everything
- [OEM/Retail] Product Activation of a Windows 8.0 Product Key using Change Key
If you plan using this media on multiple Windows 8.0 installs you may want to add an EI.cfg and a PID.txt file which will save you inputting the generic key all the time.
Adding the correct EI.cfg and PID.txt will prevent the bootable USB asking for a Product Key During Installation
Note make sure it is saved as EI.cfg and not EI.cfg.txt. Save as type: All Files must be selected when saving.
For Windows 8.1 Professional
Value=XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB For Windows 8.1 Core
The EI.cfg and PID.txt need to be saved into the sources folder of the USB flash drive.
For installation instructions see: A Clean Install of Windows.
Unofficial Download Sources
While I of course don’t recommend downloading Windows 8.1 from unofficial sources, I don’t recommend Microsoft’s current deployment methods of Windows 8.0, 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update 1 either. Should you be forced to use an unofficial source because of Microsoft’s inefficient distribution of Windows 8.1 for English use the links here. I have tested the Windows 8.1 with Update multiple editions x64 and Windows 8.1 with Update multiple editions x86 in a Virtual Machine.
Buying Windows 8.1
The upgrade assistant and not the downloader will examine your computer and assess your system to see if its valid to run Windows 8.1:
If will examine compatibility and will give you the option to buy Windows 8.1 as a digital download. Note this assistant might not work on Windows XP installations even though the machine is capable of running Windows 8.1. In such cases install the Windows 8.1 90 day Enterprise Trial of the desired architecture and then run the upgrade assistant.