Download Windows 8.1 OEM and Retail .iso

The Free Upgrade to Windows 10 Version 1903

Windows 8.1 Reached End of Mainstream Support in January 2018. Extended Support lasts until January 2023. For more details see End of Support.


Windows 8.1 is becoming obsolete however your Windows 8.x OEM License is compatible with Windows 10 Version 1903 Installation Media* and Windows 10 Version 1903 Installation Media will automatically input your Windows 8.x OEM Product Key embedded in the systems UEFI BIOS during installation selecting the correct Edition of Windows 10. Any system shipped with Windows 8.1 OEM is Windows 10 Version 1903 Compatible.

* Note: Ignore any references you see around referring to a "1 Year Only Free Upgrade". This wording was a marketing flop and Microsoft have since then followed the feedback presented in these guides to make Windows 8.x OEM Product Keys compatible with Windows 10 Installation Media.

See Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads for instructions in Downloading a Windows 10 .iso, Creating a Bootable USB and Clean Installing Windows 10 or performing an Upgrade Install to Windows 10.

Introduction, Editions and Product Keys

Due to Windows 7 OEM and earlier Product Keys readily fading or peeling away from the systems, Microsoft worked with OEMs to embed Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 OEM Product Keys in the systems firmware (UEFI BIOS).

This was meant to alleviate installation and product activation issues found with Windows 7 OEM. Unfortunately Microsoft made Windows 8.1 Installation Media and Product Keys both edition specific. If the correct Edition is selected with an OEM License, the Product Key will automatically be input during installation taking you straight to the license agreement screen as designed:


However if the incorrect edition is selected, then you will be stuck on the enter your Product Key screen.


The side effect with the keys being physically embedded in the UEFI BIOS was that one could not identify the correct edition of the OEM license and this led to confusion between Windows 8.1 (Home) and Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language in particular. Microsoft have addressed these issues with Windows 10 Version 1903 Installation Media. If you are unsure about your Windows 8.x OEM Edition you should install Windows 10 Version 1903 instead.

Check your Edition

To check your Edition if Windows can boot, right clicking the start button (or pressing [Windows] and [x]) and then select system:


If you have Windows 8.0 there is no Start Button so you may press the [Windows] and [Pause|Break] key to launch system or access it from Computer in Windows Explorer.


Look at the product ID at the bottom and see if the product ID mentions the words OEM. If the license is OEM then your product key will reside within the system UEFI/BIOS known as a System Locked Preinstallation (SLP) key.

If your Windows 8.1 system cannot boot it is recommended to install Windows 10 Version 1903 as the installation media is multi-edition and you do not need to worry about your Edition. Otherwise OEMs did ship systems with OEM stickers however the "Home" (just called Windows 8.1) and "Home Single Language" (just called Windows 8.1 Single Language) Editions have the same sticker which resulted in great confusion.

Home Editions

  • Windows 8.1 (Home) Most Common
  • Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language Common
  • Windows 8.1 (Home) N Rare

In essence if you have this sticker attempt to install Windows 8.1 and if you are asked for a Product Key retry with Windows 8.1 Single Language.

Home with Bing Editions

  • Windows 8.1 with Bing Common
  • Windows 8.1 Single Language with Bing Common

Installation Media is not downloadable for these Editions. You have no choice but to use Windows 10 Version 1903 Installation Media instead.

Pro Editions

  • Windows 8.1 Pro Most Common
  • Windows 8.1 ProN Rare

Media Centre

The last Edition is a retail upgrade and requires the base Windows to be reinstalled and then use of "Get Features with a New Edition of Windows":

  • Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center

RT Edition

If you have this sticker you have Windows RT:

Windows RT

A Windows RT device has hardware in particular a processor that is non-Intel/AMD using instead Arm processors. These devices were made to compete with Chrome Books as budget devices and prolonged battery but are extremely low end. Installation Media is not available for Download.

Downloading a Windows 8.1 ISO

Microsoft offer direct Download Links for Windows 8.1:

Select your Edition:

Select Confirm:

Next select your Language:

Note "English International" corresponds to CANZUK and Commonwealth Countries and "English" corresponds to the United States.

Once you have selected your language, select confirm:

Select your Download:

Checking ISO Checksums and Making a Bootable USB

These ISOs are downloaded as single files and the checksums should match the source. It is best to check these ISO Checksums using Rufus:

Note the last version of Rufus to work on Windows Vista and Windows XP is 2.18 which has a slightly different user interface.

Launch Rufus and select the select button:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

You should have a 8-16 GB USB Flash Drive Attached, it will display under Device:

Select "select":

Select your ISO and select Open:

The ISO name will show at the bottom:

Select the checksum button:

Copy the MD5. If you are using an English or English International ISO, you can [ress [Ctrl] + [ f ] on this page to see a match. If using a non-English language the MD5 should show up on a Google Search:

If your MD5 yields no search results, your ISO is likely corrupt so retry downloading it.

It is advisable to change the Volume Label as this is the Windows 8.1 (Pro and Home) ISO:

I will use the name Win81ProHome:

If you are using a computer shipped with Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 you should be using the 64 Bit ISO and will have a UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot. The partition scheme should be GPT and the File System should be FAT32:

If using a computer older than 2012 with a Windows 8.x Retail License, you may need to use the MBR partition scheme or NTFS File System:

Select Start:

You will get a warning stating you will format all the data on your USB Flash Drive. Select OK:

When done it will say Ready, you can now close Rufus:


For English International and English the ISO checksums are as follows. Press [Ctrl] + [ f ] on this page and just paste in your MD5, if it matches then your ISO is good to use, if it doesn't match it is likely corrupt. For a non-English Language use a Google Search of the MD5.

English International (CANZUK) Checksums

English International 64 Bit


Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 (Home).





Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro N and Windows 8.1 (Home) N.


English International 32 Bit


Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 (Home).





Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro N and Windows 8.1 (Home) N.


English (US) Checksums

English 64 Bit


Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 (Home).





Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro N and Windows 8.1 (Home) N.

English 32 Bit


Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 8.1 (Home).



Note this ISO is multi-Edition and contains both Windows 8.1 Pro N and Windows 8.1 (Home) N.

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center Edition and "Get Features with a New Edition of Windows"

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center is a 2 stage installation. It requires installation of the base Windows 8.1 "Edition" (non-N, the N Editions are Windows with Native Windows Media Player Capabilities Removed) which needs activated and then "Get Features with a New Edition of Windows".

When Media Center is installed the base Windows installation cannot be determined using System you will be in a similar case to users who cannot boot see Determining your Edition when Windows cannot Boot.

After installing your original Edition. The easiest way of adding the product key is via system by right clicking the start button (or pressing [Windows] and [x]) and then selecting system:


In system you should first check at the bottom that your old version of Windows is activated otherwise you may run into an issue upgrading to media center.

In system select "Get more features with a new edition of Windows".


Select "I already have a product key" or select "I wish to buy a key online" if you want to purchase a new upgrade key. At this stage I do not recommend paying for media centre as you will lose it when you take the free upgrade to Windows 10 therefore the cost is not worthwhile:


Enter in your Media Center key:


Select next


Select Add Features


Then select close. You may want to recheck that Windows is activated under system.


Theoretically the following pathways to Media Center are possible with the ones crossed out being a complete waste of money and time:

  • Windows 8.1 SL Core → Windows 8.1 Core →Windows 8.1 Professional → Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center.
  • Windows 8.1 SL Core → Windows 8.1 Professional → Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center.
  • Windows 8.1 SL Core → Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center (Pro Pack).
  • Windows 8.1 Core → Windows 8.1 Professional → Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center.
  • Windows 8.1 Core → Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center (Pro Pack).
  • Windows 8.1 Professional → Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center.

The N versions are versions without Media Player or Internet Explorer. These editions cannot be upgraded to Media Center via "getting features with a new edition of Windows".

  • Core N → Professional N → No further Upgrade
  • Professional N → No Further Upgrade

After upgrading you will be unable to determine your original version using System. You can also obtain your product keys using Berlarc Advisor. I don't fully recommend this as this utility looks to the registry and sometimes can give bogus keys especially for systems upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 via the Microsoft Store or from systems that have used "Get More Features with a New Edition of Windows". Its better to get the keys from the original confirmation email and/or retail packaging. For a Windows Media Center Edition install take note of the product key for Internet Explorer which will be your original Windows 8.1 Product Key*.

* The test of Windows 8.1 SL Core → Windows 8.1 Core →Windows 8.1 Professional → Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center using generic keys gave only the Windows 8.1 SL Core (Internet Explorer Key) and Windows 8.1 with Media Center (as Key: None Activated).

berlarc advisor2

Generic Product Keys

There are a number of generic product keys which allow you to install Windows 8.1 for evaluation however you will require a genuine product key to activate.

Windows 8.1 (Home):


Windows 8.1 (Home) N:


Windows 8.1 Single Language:


Windows 8.1 Professional:


Windows 8.1 Professional N


Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center


The generic product key can simply be typed in during installation or added as PID.txt file to the Bootable USB. With the latter, the key in the PID will automatically be input during installation.

Windows 8.1 (Home):


Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language:


Windows 8.1 Pro:


Copy and paste the text for your Edition into Notepad and save the file as a PID.txt file in the sources folder of your Bootable USB.

The easiest way of adding the product key is via system by right clicking the start button (or pressing [Windows] and [x]) and then selecting system:


In system select Activate Windows:


Either enter the key which you bought from a retail purchase or select buy key.


Determining the UEFI BIOS OEM Embedded System Locked Preinstallation Key

The OEM product key (SLP key) is hidden within the UEFI BIOS. Although you shouldn't need your UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM SLP key as it should be automatically input during installation. You may also use the Windows Product Key Tool or RWEverything to obtain your UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP Key from your MSDM tab:

These utilities give the findings from the MSDM table if you have a UEFI BIOS embedded SLP key. The Windows Product Key Tool directly gives you your key from the MSDM table whereas RWEverything requires you to launch ACPI tables and then open the MSDM tab.

product key utility - Copy

No MSDM table = No UEFI BIOS Embedded OEM SLP Key:

product key utility

For RWEverything select ACPI Tables and the MSDM tab, copy down your product key.


Note no MSDM tab = No Windows 8.0/8.1 UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP key.

If you are supposed to have a MSDM table and don't note the following…

  • This key is classified as hardware (part of the motherboard) and so Microsoft will not be able to help you if this tab is missing.
  • Systems which shipped with Windows XP, Vista or 7 have no MSDM tab as these versions of Windows used a generic key for OEM SLP; you need to purchase a retail product key for these systems. Note if you have purchased a retail license for such systems there will be no MSDM tab.
  • If you have a systems which came with Windows 8.0/8.1 and no MSDM tab then you need to contact your OEM for a motherboard replacement or purchase a retail license. Its extremely rare for an OEM motherboard to lose its Windows 8.0/8.1 key but I have seen a few examples.

While this utility gives your product key. It should be noted that it does not give you the Edition of Windows 8.1 this product key is for however at least you can confirm you have an OEM product key. If you have tried the 5 "Editions" and they all reject your product key then it is likely you have a Bing Edition which Microsoft chose not to support with this tool.


240 thoughts on “Download Windows 8.1 OEM and Retail .iso

  1. hii philip i had upgraded my win 7 home premium and then upgraded to win 8 pro and did a clean install of win 8 pro after 8.1 came i donloaded the iso but it asked for product key to install and when i entered my win 8 pro product key it wont worked so i need to know whether the product key will work now or not.

  2. any link to directly download the iso file as i have slow internet and the tool takes much time to download if i can download it via idm it will be better

    1. Microsoft did not provide a direct link to the .iso unfortunately.

      Microsoft previously had a flawed deployment of Windows 8/8.1 where Windows 8.1 Pro downloaders and media blocked Windows 8 Pro keys.

      The Windows 8.1 Pro with Update 1 .isos from the Windows Media Creation Tool mentioned on this page works with both Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8.1 Pro product keys.

    2. Go to
      U can find same iso which u are trying to download using media creation tool.
      Its safe and untempered file.
      I am using the same.
      Hope it will work for u.

  3. I have a new machine with UEFI bios that is GPT partitioned. However, I wish to install legacy software that requires MBR (TrueCrypt). I am therefore exploring cloning the drive, reinstalling windows with MBR, and restoring the drive from from the clone. Other than losing the advantages GPT has over MBR, will this cause unforeseen problems? Will it work? Thanks.

      1. This isn't a TrueCrypt question. It is a question about putting converting my GPT to MBR on my UEFI.

  4. Please make a link to a command line prompt. After making that link, right click on that link and select "run as administrator". One this is done you will be ready to begin the real work. After you have brought up a command line window as the administrator, click into the box making it the new focus. Type " diskpart " and hit return. (do not include quote marks please.) Once diskpart is running, please type "List Disk" and then enter. This will display a list of available disks drives, please look for the drive letter of the unit you wish to work on. Then type "Select" and the drive number of this drive you are to work on. Then type "Convert MBR"
    Now that answers our primary question, However depending on the size of the drive unit are attempting to use with Windows 8.1, a GPT style partition is required in order to acquire the maximum drive space the BIOS and OS will allow. Windows does not need MBR in this condition.
    Sincerely, Dr. Holder, former developer of windows 95

    1. Thank you. I'll try this tomorrow and let you know how it went. The drive is only 1T, so that's not an issue.

    2. Tried this today. Didn't work. I got the following error: "Virtual Disk service error: The operation is not allowed on a disk that contains a pagefile volume."

  5. Hi Phillip,
    I truely admire U for such a well explained tutorial which is very helpful for people like me.I seek ur help regarding to my Dell Inspiron 3537 (Mid,2013) pc which has a windows 8 single language (64 bit) english US OS preinstalled.I wish to upgrade my pc with windows 8.1 free upgrade.Microsoft offers this update thru windows app store but I don't want to upgrade it from their as in case of OS reinstallation I've to redownload it which is not easy in my monthly bandwidth limitation & as U mentioned above only windows 8 users who performed a clean installation of windows 8.1 will be able to upgrade their pc to windows 10. As U suggested above I may use windows media creation tool for download ISO file of windows 8.1 SL (64 bit) for upgrading but media creation tool requires a reliable internet connection which I'm lacking of for downloading such a big file of 3.6 gb on it. In such scenario I've found a windows 8.1 SL (64 bit) English US file on this link -
    I wish to know if I'll download this file with IDM then will I'm able to perform a clean installation of windows 8.1 SL (64 bit) English US on my pc with the help of windows 8 SL (64 bit) English US product key which is embedded with my system. Is this file appropriate for upgrading my OS to windows 8.1. Eagerly waiting for ur reply & suggestions.

    1. Thats a unofficial source and hence I don't trust it. You download the same file of size with or without the media creation tool so I'd recommend just taking your system to an internet cafe and using the media creation tool.

      1. Thank U Very Much,Dear Phillip..Ur suggestions are valuable as always… 🙂

  6. Good Afternoon, I have been reading the comments of other users and have a similar issue with my mother's laptop (HP Pavillion g7-2217cl) which she purchased. It was suggested to finally reinstall the OS, as we were having multiple wireless connection issues. We followed the instructions on creating a System Restore point, via a recovery partition. However; the recovery partition is bad. Now I have a laptop, with a license and no OS. I have been trying to resolve this issue for about a month now.
    Can anyone please assist?

    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    1. So you followed the instructions here. The system came with either windows 8 or Windows 8 Single Language so the Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Single Language Edition should work, just follow the instructions on this page to make installation media.

  7. Hi folks:
    I have followed the instructions printed above and created a DVD iso file to reinstall W8.1 on my system. I am running a Dell XPS 8500 Desk top computer which originally was purchased in late 2012 with W8 installed. The processor is an i7-3770 running 340GHz and it has 16 GB ram, a 240 GB SSD and a 2 TB HD. I updated it to W8.1 and used it for a couple of years with no real problems. Late last year my system developed some problems and I wound up using one of those services that updates and cleans out your system on line. When they were finished they said I was back to clean install conditions with all my software and set-up as it was before I ran into problems. I found that I could not use the Windows Store and many of my apps failed to work. After 5 tries by the service to "fix" my problems I gave up and decided to wait for Win 10 but I have discovered something new. I can not use the system repair or system reinstall functions built into my current win 8.1 install. After I prepared the DVD iso using the above instructions I find that I can not get to my BIOS settings to instruct my computer to boot from the DVD drive. Can you help me?

    1. I forgot to mention I am running a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse and a Dell TS2220T touchscreen moniotor

      1. Can I just run the iso from my win O/S after it starts up in windows?

    2. Don't use a DVD as the Optical Drive/DVD are rejected by SecureBoot and UEFI.

      You need to make a FAT32 USB Flash Drive for UEFI BIOS as instructed on this page.

      1. Ah, So! How come that is not mentioned above? Or did I miss it? By the way I have a 4 GB thumb drive and the system said it is not big enough. When I use the system to analyse the drive it shows the drive as 3.72 GB. I expected to see this inequity in the numbers but should I get a larger thumb drive or did I just fail to set up the process correctly?

      2. I explicitly mention to save the .iso and to use Rufus to create a Bootable USB that is FAT32 formatted for the UEFI BIOS…

        I mention things this way because of issues with creating a DVD and with also the Media Creation Tool has issues directly creating a Bootable USB. I don't mention DVDs at all in this guide.

        Get an 8 GB USB flash drive… your 4 GB drive is specified as 1000×1000×1000 bytes whereas Windows classifies a GB as 1024×1024×1024 Bytes. Thus (1000/1024)^3 Bytes=3.72 GB. The .iso should be smaller than this but its recommended to have some space on the Bootable USB just in case.

        Edit: I have updated the guide to explicitly mention this warning and changed the USB to at least 8 GB.

  8. Hi Philipyip
    Thanks for the explanation. After I got the instruction to refrain from using the DVD with my system I went ahead and used the above mentioned "Rufus" to make boot-able flash drive. The file did fit on my 4GB Thumb Drive and now my system is back to full operation. It seems W-10 will be downloaded to my system so I can upgrade when it is released just as advertised. Thanks to you I have solved a problem with my system that was beginning to look like I would have to replace my System Drive in order to

  9. Like many- Rufus refuses to allow me to create FAT32/GPT-UEFI…it keeps reverting to MBR/NTFS??? What's the use of this tool again? And yes, I did try the posted order & it makes no difference. 2014 UEFI Dell BIOS/XPS12. Now what???

      1. No matter which order I use, it won't budge: NTFS & MBR is all I get. This is a 100% OEM, Dell XPS12. I found the last 5 digits of the key in system info & then corroborated the entire key using Belarc. The Dell recovery is borked after the upgrade from 8 to 8.1 (common to Dell after MS dicked around & altered the partition table in 8.1- the Dell recovery no longer works). The machine is screwed in all sorts of ways so I'm attempting to install direct to 8.1 OEM. I used the Microsoft "create media" here, to get the ISO:

        After being stymied by Rufus, I followed this:

        Which did create the bootable USB, however, I was presented the screen in which I had to input the product key, which I did & it accepted. Now, I'm sitting & looking at my original partitions & wondering, "what next?" Blow them all out? Only install to the original C: partition after formatting?…

        I so DESPISE Microsoft for f*cking us all around– and Dell, for being such pr*cks that they can't own up to their own recovery issues & simply allow the recovery ISO for each affected unit to be available via download! I've already spent three days trying everything I can find. It's ridiculous. And, I'll add, I've been doing tech work for over 15 years. This is totally b*llshit. Worse- I'm helping a friend- it isn't even my own laptop! (end of rant, not directed at philipyip). SOOOOOOOOO grateful to be running Linux Mint!

      2. You shouldn't have difficulties making the USB flash drive with Rufus. You can try an older version in case there is a bug in the latest version or contact its developer here:

        You shouldn't of been asked for the product key during installation.

        If you managed to make the USB and it accepted the key it should be okay but its not standard behaviour.

        Blow all the partitions, Windows will recreate what it needs during installation.

    1. tracy,
      I had a similar problem.
      then I realised… after i selected the USB device (in the rufus menu), instead of selecting the .iso image at the menu bottom, I went on to select the next selections – GPT, followed by fat32, followed by selecting .iso. doing this, fat changed to ntfs and gpt to mbr.

      but, after I followed the correct sequence – select USB device, then .iso image, then gpt/mbr, then fat32… things went well.

      1. TY biren,

        I tried every which way- no go. Been doing this for years, across all brands & OS's- stymied by Dell Recovery Manager/MS arbitrary shifting of recovery partitions/locations.

        I'm positive its a "corporate glitch" neither want to address.

  10. I didn't want to lose the guy's factory recovery in the event that reinstalling the idiotic & uber-flawed Dell Recovery Manager software might actually work post-8.1 install, or I certainly would have. I'm encouraging him to exercise his extended warranty on that piece of junk as it's clearly a documented defect & definitely NOT supposed to occur.

    Thanks for the feedback & article. Btw- I couldn't find the older Rufus version I watched someone use successfully on youtube, only the current one? Of course, by then I'd well & truly had it.

    I now leave it up to the owner to decide his path. For better (worse, really) 8.1 is installed. Ugh.

  11. Hi Tracy

    I have been watching your comets since I recently went through something similar with my 2012 XPS 8500 Dell machine. Fortunately for me Rufus worked flawlessly after I learned you have to create a USB boot drive. I haven't even looked to see if I got rid of the Dell restore partition because now I have the USB drive and I don't care. I have been using computers since the 80's but never became more than a novice at rearing them. With the old XP O/S I use to swear by the Re image repair but I have learned that re image is not good with Win 8 and later. I had two major foe-paws using it and I will never try that again. I used Linux on a laptop for about a year but I could never get any windows software to work with their windows emulator and I am pretty dependent on some windows software. I am really happy with this desk top from Dell and I expect to like it better with Win 10. I didn't know about the problem with upgrading Win 8 to 8.1 until this column brought it to my attention and I so appreciate Mr. Yip for helping me with it.

    There must be something different about the Install on the XPS12 because I found my full key listed in the PC Info in my system. My system never asked me for the key so I guess it was stored properly in the Bios. I was forced to do a complete clean install because when I tried to use the option to save all my previous set-up it also failed to repair the problem and I still could not get to any of my windows apps or the store. Those guys who made remote repairs really did a number on my system. Another thing I will never try again.

    I guess I said all that to say I feel your pain buddy.

    1. Hi Gene,

      My main gripe on the Dell issue is that it's far-reaching = Dell knows & ought to own up to the glitch. To point people back to Microsoft & to then expect end-users to do what has to be done above is ludicrous! The majority of end users could NEVER in a million years do this, & should not have to. Imagine, 13 months after you buy your car it dies- & the maker points you to a website on how to disassemble & reassemble your entire engine? Dell, if contacted by a customer, with an affected PC, ought to simply offer to replace the drive with one which works.

      As a side-note: after returning the XPS12, now running well after reinstall (with all original partitions left, as-is, for better or worse) the friend says it's been back for other issues THREE times! I'm sorry- that's a sick joke. An ultrabook @ $1800 breaking down continuously for the entire first two years & now this?? I stick to my original thought- Dell needs to suck it up & do what's right– but of course, they won't.

      RE: Linux. I run Mint & am absolutely stoked- lol. Naturally there's a bit of learning curve- but I can say Mint looked more like MS than Win 8 did. As far as using WINE or such to run Windows programs- I do use it for some, but find it far simpler to just install a MS VM in Virtualbox for anything I "need" which doesn't run otherwise. So far- it's only a particular DVD converter that I need the VM for. Other than that, sometimes I check websites via Firefox or Chrome to see if they're displaying the same as in the Linux versions of browsers.


      1. Hi Tracy

        I didn't know you can use Virtualbox with Linux. Is it hard to set up in Linux? I used it on my Win 8.1 system to run Win XP and a virtual PI OS but I never tried it on a Linux OS. I never learned how to set up Windows software using WINE but just yesterday I found an article on line at MAXIMUM PC that enplanes how to work with WINE. Since I do not have a system set up to use Linux right now I didn't spend much time looking at it. I have AutoCAD 2007 running on an old Win XP system because I use it in my business but I am concerned about the fact the Windows does not support XP. Maybe the Virtual Win XP running on a Linux system is something I should consider. Thanks for your input.

        I agree with you that DELL should fix their own problems rather than try to shift the blame. It seems they should publish a bug fix that the user could just install in his system and reverse the problem created by the upgrade process. I bet nobody else – Asus, HP, and the others are showing signs of this problem. Makes you wonder if DELL will be around long if they insist on this course of action. I know I am having second thoughts about ever shopping with them again and I have been a fan of DELL since the 70's.

        Again, Thanks for your input.

  12. Hi Philipyip

    I just recently used your method to install a clean version of Win 8,1 on my XPS 8500 with a USB boot drive I created with Rufus. My question is will this drive work with my wife's 2013 Acer "Aspire One? It came with Win 7 and over time I upgraded it to Win 8.1 but something happened and the system became compromised. I reinstalled the Win 7 and it is running that way. If I want to upgrade to Win 10 after a couple of months running that O/S on my desktop can I use the same USB to reboot a new install on it? It seems like I saw some warnings in your column about using this method on the smaller systems with Atom processors. Should I just upgrade this Acer directly with the Microsoft upgrade when I am ready? What problems am I likely to encounter?

  13. Hi Gene,

    Weirdly, I cannot reply directly to your post?

    WIth VB in Linux, I got it to work quickly- but with oddball things showing up which didn't present themselves at first. All good now.

    Use the software manager or go direct to Oracle.


  14. Hey Philip,

    Just wanted to say thanks for this info, you at least got me to a command line where I can view disks, volumes, and partitions. I'm was unable to boot into Windows and no Windows Recovery Options to be found.

    I'll just add that I had the rare, Windows 8 Pro N edition on a Dell XPS 2720, All in One. The Windows sticker just said Pro. I figured this out after downloading and testing the "normal" Windows 8 Pro/Windows 8.1 Pro edition and just getting a blank screen after the Dell logo on boot. So now I have the Windows repair tools. "Repair" doesn't work, locked drive, so I'm going through the Boot Configuration Data, which appears corrupt or broken.

    This is all after many days of fiddling around with UEFI boot settings, legacy boot, secure boot, USB controller settings, SATA controller bios settings, the list is endless. I even tried Easy Recovery Essentials and Kaespersky Rescue Tools, SpinRite, chkdsk, SFC, blah blah blah. Wow this 8.1 upgrade sucks! And I'm a bit of a computer geek, who understands most of this. I can imagine this being almost impossible for the inexperienced.

    Anyway, thanks, and I'll report if I get Windows back up and running.

      1. Hey Philip,

        Thanks for the update. So you're saying that the "more common" Windows 8/Windows 8.1 Media Edition may be what I need, but something else is causing the blank/black screen? I don't get the same black/black screen with the N edition. The N edition loads with Win 8 install dialog window, but also gives the option to Repair.

        And thanks about the Dell diagnostic scan. I've run that a couple times early in my diagnosing, with no issues. Just ran it again and I'm now getting a hard drive error. . The error is v4228 Error 2000:01 42. Perhaps my HD is kaput. Of course this happens after days of troubleshooting the original software issue.

        Thoughts? Just backup and replace the HD? I can still browse the partitions and files from the Recovery command prompt.

        Thanks again!

      2. 2000-0142 means you need to replace your hard drive preferably with a solid state drive such as a Crucial MX200.

        The black screen you encountered was likely due to the drive failure and it was likely only a coincidence that the Windows 8.1 ProN version booted further than the Windows 8.1 Pro media.

  15. Hello, got a problem over here. I plug in the USB and reboot mz PC. I hit F12 for the boot selection and select UEFI USB. I can then choose language and have to enter my key. After that, the system tells me ( got to translate from german but something in the lines of..) that I cant install Windows in UEFI on this Hardrive because its an MBR table and it has to be a GPT format. Any suggestions?

    1. Edit> Windows cannot be installed on this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI systems, Windows can only installed on GPT disks. Thats what it says.

    2. You have previously installed Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 using the legacy MBR.

      Ensure SecureBoot is enabled.

      To get rid of the MBR partition you will have to format your drive using Diskpart → Clean or Clean All.

      See here:

      Note use of DISKPART will result in data loss.

      After this operation is performed you should not get the error message and be able to proceed with the installation as normal.

      What is the model of your system?

  16. please may I get window 8.1 single language product key, the one that ends with V8P66


    Thanks in advance.

  17. if I install it by usb and something goes wrong
    I wont be able to retore to my windows 8, right ?

    what I have now is:
    windows 8 running
    with the factory image by dell factory

    if I do an freash install I ll loose the recovery pertitation ?? right or wrong ?
    I am afraid that I wont be able to restore if something goes wrong

    1. The Windows 8 factory image is obsolete and has been superseded by Windows 8.1, this in turn has been superseded by Windows 10.

  18. I need to create media only to do a repair of 8.1 OEM. I cannot upgrade to win 10 due to a couple of corrupted files. Will this media work for that purpose?

  19. Does anyone have a link to download Windows 8 OEM. I don't understand why it is so hard to find, if the keys are baked into the hardware then the download should be easy?

    1. Windows 8.1 = Windows 8 Service Pack 1 and the new Windows 8.1 .isos (with update 1) accept the corresponding Windows 8 OEM and Retail key.

      Don't waste your time with Windows 8, install Windows 8.1 directly.

  20. Hi there… Read the comments above with interest.
    My Dell XPS15 (9530) had been running Tech Preview versions of Win10 up to build 10130. As I was never offered an upgrade to the released Win 10 I tried to install it via the DVD/ISO route. But it insisted on a product key and would not allow me to skip.
    Eventually decided to go back to Win 8.1 and after a lot of fooling with the BIOS (the system would not allow F8) etc. and going down the "Can't install as the disks are using GPT partition style" – I eventually got the BIOS sorted and booted using UEFI.
    Got Win 8.1 installed OK using your Generic Product key. Then used the Neosmart tool to get the Product key. Tried to activate 8.1 using that key and got "the key can't be used to activate this edition of Windows – try a different key"… I suspect the key the Neosmart tool found is a Win-10 one??
    Have I built a AUD $3000 boat anchor?
    Keep up the great work – JohnS from cool winter Canberra

    1. Do not use generic keys to attempt to install Windows 8.1 OEM. The problem you have is that you selected the wrong Edition of Windows. Likely your system came with Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language instead of Windows 8.1 (Home). See step 3 of this guide – determining your edition when your Windows Installation cannot boot:
      There are stickers affixed at the bottom of your system which help to narrow down the preinstalled edition unfortunately its not robust as multiple editions have the same sticker… due to Microsoft's flawed deployment of the Windows 8 product family. The good news is your laptop too expensive for it to be a "Bing" Edition.

      Since you forced the install with the generic product key you won't be able to activate your base install of Windows 8.1 (Home) and hence can't get Windows 10 Home. Installation of Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language should automatically input the UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP key and activate when online. You can then use the Media Creation Tool to take the free upgrade to Windows 10 Home Single Language.

  21. Hi there…
    I really appreciate your help. No stickers on the system but I was was able find the original operating system from the Dell site using the service tag.
    Turned out to be plain Win 8.1 – so I downloaded and created a USB boot drive.Then installed, and as you predicted – no request for Product ID and activated automatically. Then I was finally offered the upgrade to Win 10 which is what I wanted!
    Many thanks again – JohnS

  22. It would be really helpful if you could please also describe the setup in the BIOS as every time I try to boot using the USB drive formatted using RUFUS in UEFI mode my computer tries to boot from the hard drive (which I have in all my stupidness have all ready formatted clean). If I try to manually add my usb into the boot list it asks for some file to execute; I have tried the setup.exe, the autorun.inf, the bootmgr.efi files. But, all these gave me a security violation at boot.

    Please help me.

    1. FYI, My laptop is the Dell XPS 15 9530. I found my pre-installed Windows to be 'Windows 10 single language for' (nothing after for on the website) using the service tag and your instructions, thanks. I downloaded a US English single language Windows 8.1 Home iso using the media creation tool and made a bootable USB using rufus with 'GPT partition scheme for UEFI computer' and FAT32 file system. Now I'm stuck with no windows on my PC.

      Please help me get my computer back.

      1. Thanks for all the detailed help you provided in this great article. I have figured out how to boot into my USB drive with secure boot enabled. It would really be helpful for others if you could add the instructions to be followed at the BIOS screen. I actually had to add the USB into the list of boot item for UEFI mode and for that the BIOS asked me to select a file from the flash drive. The file was actually 'bootx64.efi' located inside efi/boot folder on the created bootable USB. And as a side note I'm on a 64-bit PC if that was the reason for my problem.

        Now I'm installing my Windows 8.1 without losing the data on the other partition and/or the partition structuring made by DELL all thanks to you.

      2. Thanks for getting back to me to confirm a successful install. I have never had to manually add the boot files to the menu in my UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot hence there are no additional instructions to do that. I played around with it only briefly.

  23. Maybe it was just me having a bad day then. But still thanks a lot for all the other information you have consolidated here for everyone.

  24. Thank you for a detailed guide. I have a bit of a unique problem. My work laptop with Windows 8.1 Pro x64 (under Bootcamp) was transferred to me when I left employment a couple of years ago. I am unable to upgrade to 8.1 Pro through Microsoft Store and it wouldn't be appropriate to go back to my former employer asking for an upgrade. It's ironic that Windows 7 machines can be upgraded to 10 but mine can't. I hope there is a legit option available to downgrade my license from 8 Pro to 8 basic/Core so I can then upgrade to 8.1 basic/core followed by upgrade to Windows 10. I don't want to lose my installed applications and would like to upgrade in place. Ideas?

      1. The only reason I mentioned Bootcamp is that it's not an OEM installation and the license key is probably not in UEFI.
        Direct upgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 10 is not available. We're required to upgrade to 8.1 first which I am unable to obtain.

  25. So far, I've had very mixed reviews on the 10 upgrade from clients (people who call frantic).

    Allowing for people who dislike change, I'll address stuff "NOT" change.

    10 has caused breakage issues: no display, no access to network, problems with Cortana, peripherals not working…

    I'd say the easiest thing to do is to wait. Until March 2016 or so. See if whatever "bug" dogs your particular system is fixed by then.

    If you only have one PC, consider backing up your data & installing 10 "clean". On my not very old laptop, it behaves. It may have issues keeping & dealing with old 7/8/8.1 data..during the upgrade.


  26. Hello
    I recently bought an used Dell Latitude e5440 laptop. It was preinstalled with windows 8. They replaced the HDD with an SSD in the store. I left the HDD in the store. (It was cheaper this way.) The notebook has a Windows 8 PRO sticker like the one mentioned in the guide. Dell support page mentions windows 8 and windows 7 64bit on the original configuration page after typing in the service key. I tried to install windows 8.1pro and 8.1proN following your guide without success. (Installer wants my product key in both case.)
    After my unsuccessful tryings I installed win8.1pro from a custom made iso. (This iso let me bypass the serial key page, but the installed windows is not activated obviously.) Now i tried the mentioned RWeverything tool, but i don't find MSDN tab. Maybe the store tricked me with the windows part and my laptop does not have oem windows. I'm confused. A little help would be fantastatic before i return the laptop to the store. This is a really great guide by the way. (Sorry for my bad English.)

    1. The sticker indicates you have a UEFI BIOS SLP key however no MSDM tab = No UEFI BIOS Embedded SLP key.

      The key is however tied to the motherboard and not to the HDD. Its very rare for the motherboard to lose the key… Is it possible the motherboard was replaced in the past?

      1. Thank you for the reply!
        According to Dell support site the notebook was purchased/shipped in April 2014. So it's a little young for a motherboard replacement, BUT under the System logs in the BIOS there is BIOS event "Alert! Service Tag not programmed!" (2014 December) The service tag is in the BIOS now, so somebody "programmed" it.
        Is this a reference/hint to motherboard change?

  27. This DVD saved the day for a relative of mine whom upgraded to Windows 10 with horrid results, the notebook (Dell Inspirion, forget the model number) shipped with Windows 8.1 pre-installed.

    Disabled Secure Boot, booted the DVD & off to the races we went. OS restored in less than 20 minutes, though drivers had to be reinstalled. These I got from the Dell site, including an updated BIOS. Rather than wasting time to get the 3rd party software (the CyberLink was the one she wanted the most), using a partition tool, assigned a letter to the large Recovery partition, and was allowed access to the software, once done, changed the partition back to no drive letter. This trick is very useful for those with any brand & cannot find drivers online (Dell is the best for maintaining drivers for computers 10+ years old). It's also unsafe to obtain these from some sites, that Recovery partition has all one needs from drivers to software, even if it's not the latest. One reason not to delete it w/out imaging it first, as well as create recovery media set, if not already done.

    Otherwise, we've waited for this media for some time, any Windows 8/8.1 user needs it, be it for repair or recover the OS, can do both. I didn't have to enter a key to get my Windows 8.1 Pro media, though I can't promise everyone will have the same experience.

    Thanks for the Tutorial, Philip! You're the best & so is Dell.


  28. Hi Philip,
    Can you please tell me the difference between this info:

    Name: Windows (R), Core edition
    Description: Windows(R) Operating System, OEM_DM channel
    Partial Product Key: xxxxx
    License Status: Licensed

    AND. . .

    the information that's shown on the PC Info screen which says:
    Windows 8.1
    Product ID: xxxxxxx. . . etc. etc.

    Do I or don't I have Windows 8.1? What is Core edition and OEM DM channel and partial product key? Would I be able to reinstall should I need to?

      1. Windows Edition = Windows 8.1
        Activation Status = Windows is activated
        Product ID = 00258 xxxx . . . AAOEM

      2. So your Edition is Windows 8.1 [Home] OEM. Download the Windows 8.1 .iso and make a UEFI Bootable USB as instructed on this page.

        Don't worry about the product key it'll be automatically input from the UEFI BIOS during Reinstallation.

  29. Pingback: Anonymous
  30. Thanks very much Philip. The thing is, I tried making a System image but got the backup failed with Error message (0x80780119). I used a USB and Dell Backup and Recovery since then whenever I go to This PC, I saw PBR Image Y: with a very red bar with 653 MB free of 23.5 GB.

    I posted on the Dell forum with screen shots but no useful reply. Would you mind taking a look, please? Here's the link.

    Let me know then if I still need to do a reinstall.

  31. What should the product ID look like after a successful update to 10? I started with a new HP with 8.1 Home installed. I did not look at "System" prior to upgrading. After the upgrade, System does not mention OEM and it is activated, however, if I use the rweverything tool, I do have a MSDM tab and a product key. So I have an OEM version as I would expect but why does System not show OEM?

    1. You won't get any additional OEM BIOS Embedded SLP key. The one RW-Everything finds will be for Windows 8.1 Home.

      The Upgrade to Windows 10 Home will register your systems hardware profile with a Microsoft Product Activation Server. Essentially the install becomes keyless. Key finders that use the registry will find a useless generic key.

      The product ID will be something like 00330-80000-00000-AAxxx (Pro)

      See here for notes on Widnwos 10 Devices and the Free Upgrade:

  32. Hi Philip, I've been trying install again the windows on my dell Inspiron Laptop, but is not possible, the product license key is not recognized automatically in any iso image. My laptop came with windows 8 and i dont have the installation disk (is not in the box).
    I get the motherboard key with the software RwPortable, and I also tried to write it manually and is still not working
    What should I do?

  33. Hello! Trying to download Windows 8.1 today January 5th, 2017. The filename im getting with the media creation tool is not like the name you show above (i.e. Windows8.1n_X64). It just offers me a "Windows.iso" file. Do you know if file names downloaded with Media Creation Tool have changed? And if they are still valid? Thanks

  34. Hello! Using the media creation tool I looked for Windows 8.1, EN-US, X64 and clicked to download, but obtained a file called "Windows.iso", which does not match with the US filenames you show here. Do you think the file is still valid or if Microsoft has changed file naming? Thanks, Patricio

  35. Hello Philip! Using the Media Creation Tool today (Jan 5, 2017), i meant to download Windows 8.1, EN-US, x64, but got a file named "Windows.iso", which does not match with the EN-US filenames you show. Do you perceive an error in my file download? Or perhaps Microsoft has changed file naming for media creation tool? Thanks, Patricio

    1. It automatically calls it Windows I added the additional 8.1-Home-x64 before selecting save so I wouldn't get all the .isos mixed up. The file size should be the same size as I got however.

  36. I Need help.
    I just recently used your method to install a clean version of Win 8,1 on my XPS 8500 with a USB boot drive I created with Rufus. My question is will this drive work with my wife's 2013 Acer "Aspire One? It came with Win 7 and over time I upgraded it to Win 8.1 but something happened and the system became compromised. I reinstalled the Win 7 and it is running that way. If I want to upgrade to Win 10 after a couple of months running that O/S on my desktop can I use the same USB to reboot a new install on it? It seems like I saw some warnings in your column about using this method on the smaller systems with Atom processors. Should I just upgrade this Acer directly with the Microsoft upgrade when I am ready? What problems am I likely to encounter?

    1. I assume the Acer One is a 2008-2009 model so its hardware is pretty poor… it should run Windows 10 fine however.

      USB wise you may need to use the MBR partition scheme for Legacy BIOS as it is non-UEFI.

  37. Hi Philip. Just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. I have been silently blessing you all day for writing this clear and detailed guide which streamlines and demystifies an area of service that does not seem to be very well supported at present. I used it to resurrect my Alienware X51 system – which did not come with any installation media – that was completely failing to boot. I am sure that for every person who comments here, there are 20 more who are equally grateful for the time, stress and money you have saved them, as I am. Thank you from all of us!

    1. Hi Brian. Thanks for the kind word. It's good to know that you found my guides helpful and were able to resurrect your machine. 🙂

  38. I need your help! I know it's been a while this article was written but I really need some guidance.
    I have like seven cheap tablets for repair, that came with Windows 8.1 Connected Single Language with BING (Spanish) 32 bits. The key is embedded in BIOS (EFI actually). I have two tablets working ok , but the others can't boot at all, broken recovery partition!
    I managed to create a USB (Rufus) with an ISO of windows 8.1 with BING in English bypassing the Input key using an efi.cfg file. Got all the drivers from the ones that work … and it works, the problem is that the key doesn't validate because it's a different product!!
    So please tell me about Windows 10, it will work? Which version? What do I do?

    1. Windows 10 solves the issues of the Bing Editions. Moreover following my feedback, Microsoft have made the Windows 10 ISO multi-edition. The multi-edition ISO should automatically input your Windows 8.1 (with Bing) Product Key automatically selecting the correct Edition of Windows 10 and taking you to the Windows 10 License Agreement Screen. See my updated Windows 10 guides for more information:

      1. Thank you Philip for your time . So bassically I can create a bootable Win 10 installation media?
        Thank you, and sorry for asking again. I'm going to read that article.

      2. Yes you can use Windows 10 Installation Media, the key should automatically be input during installation and you should not be asked for one (Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 should be considered obsolete these days).

    1. For Retail keys or Windows 7 OEM Keys you should be asked for a Product Key. For Windows 8.x OEM Keys or 10 OEM Keys you shouldn't b asked for a Product Key with Windows 10 Installation Media.

  39. Hi Phillip another one: these tablets came with 32 bits OSes… so should I download the same architecture? Specs: intel Atom Z3735F 1.33FHz , 2GB or RAM, ssd of 24GB. I also have one version with 1GB of ram and just an ssd of 16GB.

    1. Yes keep the same architecture as the system already had. These systems have really poor hardware though. You will be able to only install Windows 10 32 Bit and not much else.

  40. Thanks a lot Philip, the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool did it well, all the defaults options were correct. I created a bootable flashdrive, with Rufus, and the defaults options also were right.
    Installed Windows 10, and it automatically selected the Single Language edition. Activated OK!

  41. The current windows 10 iso 32 bits is around 2.9 GB. Installed everything including drivers takes abou 13GB of space. The SSDs on these tablets are of 26GB, so Philip, do you recommend compressing the OS, I think the is called Compact OS.
    Thanks in advance.

    P.S. Sorry for posting here, Opera Mobile doesn't your site much, and it takes a while to load each page correctly.

    1. Personally I've never ran Windows on such a small Drive. I personally wouldn't try to compress anything I would just recommend clean installing Windows 10 for each new build that comes out opposed to letting Windows 10 update and create a Windows.old folder.

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