Windows 8.1 (OEM and Retail)

This guide contains instructions for Downloading Windows 8.1 (OEM and Retail) Installation Media, Creating a Bootable USB, Clean Installing Windows 8.1 (with and without a Microsoft Account) on Dell Hardware with a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot and installing the Dell System Drivers.

Windows 10 Free Upgrade

Windows 8.1 Reached End of Life in January 2023.

All Windows 10 activation mechanisms regarding Windows 8.x OEM Products continue to work. You do not need to reinstall Windows 8.1 to get Windows 10. Windows 10 installation media will automatically input your Windows 8.x OEM Product Key during installation and activate using your Windows 8.x OEM Product Key when online.

Introduction, Editions and Product Keys

Embedded 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 OEM and Windows 8.1 OEM Product Keys in the systems firmware (UEFI BIOS).

If the correct Windows Edition and Windows Version is selected for the 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 or Version or not Product Key is embedded is selected, then you will be stuck on the enter your Product Key screen.


Version and Edition Specific Installation Media

Earlier Windows 8.0, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 with Update 1 installation media did not treat Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 keys as equivalent despite one being an update to the other and the stickers for the licenses being identical. i.e. the installation media was both Edition and Version specific. Microsoft partially addressed the feedback left on these guides and made Windows 8.1 with Update 2 that accepts Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 Product Keys however this installation media is still Edition specific. Microsoft fully addressed installation feedback making Windows 10 Installation Version 1511 (and all later Versions) media multi-edition designed to work with all Windows 8 OEM, Windows 8.1 OEM and Windows 10 OEM licenses. If you are unsure about your Edition then you should install Windows 10 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 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

Windows 8.x Installation Media is not downloadable for these Editions. Your only option is to use Windows 10 Installation Media.

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"="English (UK)" and "English"="English (US)".

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:

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:

The MD5 values for the English (UK) and English (US) ISOs are as follows.

English (UK)Win8.1_EnglishInternational_x64b828e8e7222dfce33f9024e3ffedebe964Home&Pro
English (UK)Win8.1_EnglishInternational_x3202881d84a046b06a68df7714afffc20732Home&Pro
English (UK)Win8.1_SingleLang_EnglishInternational_x64ed99429503578655cb1592973f44b32764HomeSL
English (UK)Win8.1_SingleLang_EnglishInternational_x32670b01959d1dae192fff633eec0d5b6032HomeSL
English (UK)Win8.1_Pro_N_EnglishInternational_x643ef1a2f05b353790ac6e942d791ce62364HomeN&ProN
English (UK)Win8.1_Pro_N_EnglishInternational_x32a0683b3e7025cc3fcd4ca0b9d52d306c32HomeN&ProN
English (US)Win8.1_English_x64e0d4594e56c0545d379340e0db9519a564Home&Pro
English (US)Win8.1_English_x3246ce6553a0e0abc264b77c1fc59dfb2932Home&Pro
English (US)Win8.1_SingleLang_English_x6483f6483d1c9f24ee28e0e758edbd9d0164HomeSL
English (US)Win8.1_SingleLang_English_x32731f98eebd1073e4fe31354b76c097d732HomeSL
English (US)Win8.1_Pro_N_English_x64233e312a97f03b35010b6dbbac9e604464HomeN&ProN
English (US)Win8.1_Pro_N_English_x3219396aa74f220546f49bd7d912ae961332HomeN&ProN

If using a non-English language the MD5 should show up on a Google Search:

If your MD5 yields no results on a Google Search, 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 your computer has a UEFI BIOS (all computers manufactured post 2012), select:

  • GPT partition scheme
  • BIOS or UEFI
  • FAT32

Then select Start.

If your computer is older and has a Legacy BIOS change the selection to:

  • MBR
  • BIOS
  • NTFS

Then 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:

Generic Product Keys

To either bypass the embedded OEM product key to install another Edition or to install Windows 8.1 as a 30 day trial you can create a text file within the sources folder of the Bootable USB called pid.txt containing a generic product key. To install Windows 8.1 30 day trial on a system without an OEM Product key you can also input the same generic product key during installation.

Do not use these if your system has an embedded Windows 8.x OEM Key as it may cause Product Activation Issues:

Copy and paste the following into the text file. Note you can either use your retail key or the generic product keys below. Product Activation will only take place if your system has been activated before usually with a Retail Key.

Windows 8.1 (Home):


Windows 8.1 (Home) Single Language:


Windows 8.1 Pro:


Windows 8.1 (Home) N:


Windows 8.1 Professional N


Windows 8.1 Professional with Media Center


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. If in doubt try Windows 10 Installation Media Instead.

Clean Installation

Booting From Windows 8.1 Installation Media

Insert your Bootable USB into your Computer and Remove any other USB Storage Devices such as USB Sticks and External Hard Drives.

Power off your computer.

Power it up and press the key combination for your OEM to get to the Boot Menu.

  • For a Dell or Lenovo System this is [F12].
  • For a HP and other OEMs it is often [Esc] or one of the Function Keys [F1-F12].
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Preparing Boot Menu should Flash Up. If not and you are taken straight into Windows, you will need to power down and try again:

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If your system was built in 2012 or newer the next screen you should have should mention Boot Mode and Secure Boot. For optimal Security and Performance you should have these set to UEFI and ON respectively.

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Use the [↓] key to get to your Bootable USB and once it is highlighted press [Enter]

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You should see your OEM Logo:

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You should now see the following Windows screen.

The Language to Install is for informational purposes only and lists only a single option. To change it you need to Download the Windows 8.1 ISO of the Desired Language and begin the install with your new Windows 8.1 Bootable USB.

The Time and Currency Format and Keyboard or Input method can be changed to Australian or Canadian settings for example.

Once you have made the correct options select Next:


Your Windows Product Key

Select Install Now.


The next screen will say Setup is Starting and you will see an Hour Glass Appear.

Windows 8.1 will look for a PID.txt or an embedded OEM Product Key. If found you will be taken straight to a license agreement screen.


If you are instead asked for a Product Key it means that you either do not have an OEM Embedded Product Key or have the wrong Edition of Installation Media.

  • For Retail Licenses you can input a Retail Product key and select Next.
  • Alternatively if trying to reinstall an OEM License, it is not recommended to input a generic Product Key as you will have Product Activation issues. Try the Windows 8.1 Home Single Language ISO instead of the Windows 8.1 Home and Pro ISO or use the Windows 10 ISO instead.

Windows 8.1 License Agreement

Select Next. Read and accept the license and then select next


Select custom install (advanced) and then select next


Note select Custom (advanced) even/especially if you are “upgrading” from 7 to 8.1. There are always some bugs when selecting “Upgrade” on this screen and this seriously hinders your systems performance.

Drive Options


Delete all Partitions and Format your Drive

You can use the Windows Setup to remove all previously existing partitions on tour drive. Highlight each partition and select Delete. Do this until all you have is Drive 0 Unallocated Space. Do not worry about any of the partitions being recovery partitions, they correspond to old versions of Windows and in any case won't work when a manual installation is performed. The Windows 10 will create all the additional partitions it needs during the Windows setup. Once you have deleted all the partitions select next to proceed with the install.

Multiple Drives: SSD Cache Drive

If you have multiple drives like shown then it is likely there is a low capacity Solid State Drive (SSD) and larger capacity Hard Drive (HDD) in your computer.

If the SSD is above 250 GB it is large enough to comfortably fit a Windows Installation and you should install Windows directly on it. If the SSD is below 250 GB then it should be set up as a Cache Drive.

Note Cache Drives can be more problematic and are more likely to result in boot issues and as SSDs are quite cheap these days I would recommend just replacing the SSD drive with a large capacity SSD.

The correct SATA Operation should be used for your drive(s). Then SATA operation can be changed in the UEFI BIOS setup. Power off your Dell and power it up while pressing [F2] to enter the UEFI BIOS setup.

  • When no Cache Drive is used the SATA Operation should be set to AHCI
  • When a Cache Drive is present the SATA Operation should be set to RAID On.

Under System Configuration look for SATA Operation and ensure the setting is correct.

Install Windows 8.1 on your larger capacity Hard Drive.

Exit the Windows setup and power off your Dell. Once Windows 10 is installed. Install Intel Smart Response from your Drivers and Downloads Page:

Then select Performance. Then select options similar to below.

Error Messages

If no drives are listed on the screen below with the error:

We couldn't find any drivers. To get a storage driver, click Load driver.

Then a Storage Controller or SATA Driver needs to be loaded from the Windows 10 Bootable USB (see below):

If you instead get the error:

We couldn't create a new partition or locate an existing one. For more information, see the Setup log files

Then your Drive is formatted as MBR opposed to GPT (or vice-versa). You will need to use DiskPart to remove all the partitions.

If you get the following error messages instead then your installation media is likely corrupt. Try redownloading the ISO and making a new Bootable USB:

A media driver your computer needs is missing

A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing

These normally mean your installation media is corrupt and are not because you need to load a driver. "A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing" quite often shows on Desktops when the Front USB Ports are used, move your Bootable USB to the back USB Ports instead and restart the computer.

Loading Storage Controller (SATA) Drivers

Then you must select Load Driver and select the SATA drivers from a USB stick. The SATA drivers essentially allow Windows to recognise the hard drive controller on the motherboard and thus allow Windows to view the drive letting you proceed with the install.


Get the SATA Drivers from:

Press [Ctrl] and [ f ] to do a search. I'm going to type in 7040 as I am going to clean install Windows 8 64 Bit on this model.

You can scroll down until you get to Serial ATA:

Alternatively press [Ctrl] and [ f ] and do a search for F6 (these were called F6 drivers as they used to be loaded in Windows XP by pressing F6 and using a Floppy Drive!)

You must extract the driver as the Windows Setup cannot read .exes. Normally this can be done by launching the setup:

Accept the User Account Control:

Select Extract:

Specify the location:

Copy the extracted folder to your Windows 7 Bootable USB.

Look through the contents of the extracted folder, there is normally a drivers subfolder and a Windows8.1-x64 subfolder, if this is not found use the Windows8-x64 or Windows 7-x64 instead for 64 Bit Windows 8.1 or use the x86 equivalents for 32 Bit Windows 8.1.

It's contents should look like:

This is the format the Windows setup can read. Select Load Drivers:


Select all the drivers listed and then click next. It will take you back to the “Where do you want to install Windows Screen?” this time showing the hard drive.

You can then select “Drive Options” which will allow you to delete or format partitions if any are present aswell as create new ones if there is unallocated space on the hard disc.


Using DiskPart

To remove the existing partition table from a Drive we can use DiskPart.

Restart the Windows Installation and Boot from the USB. Select Next:


Then select Repair your Computer.


Select Troubleshoot.


Select Advanced Options


Select Command Prompt


The elevated command prompt will then open:

Type in:


Then press [↵]

Now type in:

List Disk

Then press [↵]

In this case I have 2 Disks Disk 0 the SSD and Disk 1 the Bootable USB. I can tell what is what by the size. Type in:

Select Disk 0

Or use your Disk number in place of 0, if your drive is a different number. Then press [↵]

To remove the partition table on the drive type in:


Then press [↵]

Alternatively to remove the partition table and wipe the drive type in:

Clean All

Then press [↵]

Note however that this wipe routine has not been optimised for Solid State Drives and will take a few hours on a Hard Drive.

You will be told that DiskPart has cleaned the disks.

You can now close the Command Prompt and Restart the Windows Install.

The Windows Setup

The Windows 8.1 Install will then proceed:


You will be informed that your computer will restart in 10 seconds. It is a good idea to remove the Bootable USB at this stage as some computers are setup to list the Bootable USB as a higher priority than the internal drive and people end up stuck in a loop.


It'll take a moment to get ready.


Personalisation and Setting Up Accounts

You will then be prompted to type in your computers name and select a colour scheme.


You can then select express settings (red) or customise (green) to suit your preferences.


If you select customise:


You will be presented with the next 4 screens:


One thing to notice about Windows 8.1 when changing the settings is that it is very touch screen optimised, you can move the sliders along with your finger if using a touchscreen, otherwise just click them with the mouse.

There are 2 login scenarios a Microsoft Account and a Local Account. The Microsoft Account is recommended in most cases as its linked to Microsoft email services, Microsoft Office services and importantly Microsoft OneDrive cloud services. Use of a Microsoft Account gives the best Microsoft Service experience. The local account does not have such tight integration with Microsoft cloud services and is perhaps recommended for a public shared computer or for enterprise use. You will only be offered to login to a Microsoft Account if you are online.

Microsoft recommend the utilisation of a Microsoft Account for the best experience with their other services. If however you want a generic recovery partition without your Microsoft Account details I recommend making a local account (variant C) without a password and switching to a Microsoft Account after the creation of a Recovery Partition with Dell Backup and Recovery.

Online – Microsoft Account

If you are online you will then be prompted to enter your email address and sign in with a Microsoft Account. The Microsoft Account is recommended for easier use with Outlook, OneDrive, the Windows Store and to sync your Windows settings across devices:


Enter your email address and select next, it will then search for a Microsoft Account (if you use a Microsoft email or XBOX live it will be one). If you don’t have a Microsoft account you can sign up for one.

If you sign in with a Microsoft Account, additional security measures are usually put in place such as validation of your phone number associated with your Microsoft Account. Windows 8.1 only lets you log in when the validation checks are complete.

Usually the checks are done with a mobile phone. You are prompted to enter the last 4 digits of your phone number:


A text is sent to you and you need to input it:


Once you have input the correct code select next.

Offline – Local Account

Alternatively if you are offline you will only be given the option to sign in with a local account.


Upon first connection to the internet you will be given the option to convert your Local Account into a Microsoft Account.

Online – Local Account

To sign in without a Microsoft Account, select create a new account:


At the bottom select sign in without a Microsoft Account:


Create a new username and password:


End of Install

Your settings will finalise and your Windows 8.1 Apps will be installed.


You should now be logged into Windows 8.1.


Monthly Security Rollup

Microsoft have been releasing Monthly Quality Rollups for Windows 8.1. The Latest one at this time of writing will give you all the Security Updates until the 23rd of November 2016 and can be obtained from the Microsoft Update Catalog.


The one for “Windows 8.1” is for Windows 8.1 32 Bit only and the one for “Windows 8.1 for x64” is for Windows 8.1 64 Bit only.

Simply download the update and install on your computer. Restart when prompted.

You should now look at installing your system drivers starting with the Chipset drivers. After the system drivers are installed, Dell Backup and Recovery should be installed to make a new Recovery Partition from the Clean Installation. See the full A Clean Install of Windows 8.1 for more details if you need additional guidance for these steps.

System Drivers

You should install the following system drivers:

  • Dell System (Notebook/Desktop) Software – Under System Utilities
  • Chipset Drivers – Intel Chipset First – Under Chipset
  • Chipset Drivers – Any other Intel – Under Chipset
  • Card Reader – Realtek, Ricoh, O2 Micro – Under Chipset or Removable Storage
  • Intel Matrix Storage Manager/Rapid Storage Technology – Under SATA Drives or CPU
  • Video* – Intel, AMD or NVIDIA – Under Video
  • Modem* – Conexant or Intel – Under Modem
  • Network* – Ethernet – Under Network
  • Touchpad – Touchpad – Under Input
  • Audio – Sigmatel, Intel or Realtek – Under Audio
  • TVTuners – Under Video
  • Wireless Card* – Under Network
  • Bluetooth* – Under Network
  • Keyboard/Mouse Application – Under Applications
  • Dell Quickset – Under Applications
  • Webcam Driver – Under Input

If using a SSD Cache Drive be sure to set it up after driver installation following the instructions.

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":


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.


241 thoughts on “Windows 8.1 (OEM and Retail)

  1. dear philip,

    you are such a life-saver. 🙂

    i have not yet done my clean install of win8.0 (SL-64bit), and the win8.1 upgrade (for which you have guided me – ref:

    since i have not yet done it, should i use this win8.1 .iso download method (instead of the in-store update)?
    since my dell 3214 came with win8.0 64 bit SL, i presume i will have to select windows 8.1 single language in the 'edition' field, right?

    i have everything else downloaded and ready as guided by you (dell drivers, KB2871389, kb 2919442, kbkb2919355 and the win8.1 wsus updates)

    thank you.

    1. Microsoft have updated the downloader for Windows 8.1. The downloader now requires no product key.

      For installation a product key is required but the updated .iso of Windows 8.1 with Update 1 accepts both Windows 8.0 and 8.1 product keys.

      I'm not sure if it will accept the OEM key during installation natively and don't have a system to test at the moment. Can you try this and let me know?

      If it doesn't work we'll need to use a PID.txt and EI.cfg file to install.

      As far as I know theres little difference between the regular Windows 8.1 and the Single Language. I will need to test.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to test, the .iso is the most up to date and contains Windows 8.1 with Update 1.

      Essentially the questions to ask are:
      1. Will you be stuck on the product key screen? Does it say invalid key or will an error flag up and halt the install? Alternatively does it accept the OEM key automatically and activate?

      Then depending on 1.

      2. If it says product key invalid, does it accept the generic key and let you continue the install?

      3. If an error flags up and halts the install, does inputting a PID.txt and EI.cfg allow the install to run to completion?

      Then depending on 2. or 3.

      4. Does the key from RW-Everything allow for activation once installed?

      1. got it, philip.

        the 8.1 downloaded and .iso burnt on to a dvd.

        will start the clean install of win8.0 in a day or two.

        (after fresh win8.0 installed, do i still follow the same process that you advised, that is – install KB2871389 before running this win8.1 update? and then install kb2919442 and kb2919355, followed by all drivers? correct?)


      2. philip, which EI and PID files do i use? that mentioned for win 8.1 home? or there are different for win single lang.?

        also… since i have burnt a dvd from the downloaded .iso, how do i use these files if i need to follow this workaround method?

      3. Biren

        The new .iso includes Windows 8.1 and Update 1 hence there is no need for KB2871389, going to the Store to update to 8.1 and no need to install KB2919442 or KB2919355.

        Unfortunately I don't have a generic product key for the single language version so its not possible to make a PID.txt until we find a working generic key.

        Can you try the install and let me know how it goes?
        It may be unnecessary work to hunt for the generic product key if it works directly.

      4. sorry philip… but since i am feeling a bit unsure, i would like to recheck – about the procedure.

        1. i reinstall win 8.0
        2. then, immediately i install win 8.1 thru this .iso
        3. then i install all 8.1 updates offline (wsus)
        4. then i install the drivers.

        please let me know.


    2. Biren
      The new .iso is a full .iso do not reinstall Windows 8.0; it is a waste of time. The new .iso will install Windows 8.1 directly (no need to install Windows 8.0 and then Windows 8.1) and it also includes the update 1.

      Instead directly install using the updated .iso. WSUS offline update is not necessary as the .iso will be almost up to date (at present) but you can use it if you want. You will need to install the drivers after installation.

      1. dear philip,

        i finally got around to reinstalling 8.1 from the .iso.
        this is what happened:

        1. was not asked for the product key (but windows is not activated – may be it will automatically do it once i can connect to the internet, or i may have to key in the key i got from RW)

        2. surprisingly, i was not even taken to the sign in page that asks for a microsoft account – the screen i saw simply asked for a name, password, etc.)

        3. once the windows was ready, i started to install the drivers. (since you said, windows updates are not necessary)

        4. the dell 1705 network driver failed to install
        i think i made a mistake in not only the drivers, but also the order. so, could you please check the drivers you suggested at dell forums ( still hold true?

        5. on trying to install the intel turbo boost driver/application, it needed .net 3.5, which i could not download because of no internet connection. is this normal? and can i install the turbo boost app later also?

        also, i found that when i used dban, and reached the screen after successful completion of process (where it says, press any key to continue), on pressing the key, the screen that came up next was of some advertisement (of BLANCCO). i hope this was in the dban cd and not on my laptop. do let me know if u have any idea.

        thank you philip.

        i am now going to reinstall 8.1 and wait for your confirmation about the drivers and their order as suggested by you in the dell forum.

        i am sorry to be asking you to do it again.


      2. Biren, no need to clean install again. For Windows 8.1 the driver installation order is not so critical as long as Windows 8.1 with Update 1 is installed first and the chipset next.

        1. Its as expected, it will activate when you are online.
        2. This page does not show if the system cannot connect to the internet. You can sign into your Microsoft Account after you install the wireless card driver.
        4. It should be the driver, check the device manager again. If its not there the wireless switch may be disabled.
        5. Leave the Intel TurboBoost until you are online. For some reason Microsoft disable the Framework by default, it can be added using features when you are online. See here:

        Blancco is just an advertisement to let users know there is a commercial version of DBAN. This is normal and it comes up in DBAN 2.2.8 I used 2.2.7 in my screenshots, its about the only thing thats changed regarding the user interface but theres other enhancements with version 2.2.8.

        See here where it mentions Blancco:

      3. thank you philip.

        i already reinstalled 8.1. 🙂
        now i will try with the drivers that i downloaded thru links given by you in the dell forum reply to my query.

        will let u know.

        thanks a bunch.

      4. dear Philip,

        as I said, I had reinstalled 8.1. (ifound that the windows got activated on its own once I was connected to internet)
        then i directly went ahead to install drivers that I had downloaded from the links you provided me on the dell forum post ( – in that same order.

        this were the problems I faced:

        the 4th driver was intel turbo boost –
        it stopped because it asked to download .net 3.5, and I couldn't do it since I couldn't connect to the internet (without the network driver)

        I found I had saved 2 network drivers for dell 1705 –


        the first one failed to install
        the second one installed, but somewhere – as it was loading – I read it was for x86.
        is that okay? since my system is x64? though my Bluetooth and wifi seems to be working ok.

        the intel WiDi (?) driver (WiDi_Intel_W7W8_X04_A01_Setup-4N2D3_ZPE) –
        installed ok. but when I clicked the desktop icon (to see what was it about), it said "this program has compatibility issues"
        do I need to do anything? do I need this app?

        the last was quickset app (Application_1VRX6_WN_11.1.007_A00) –
        this also installed ok. but I couldn't find the icon in the notification tray. nor was I able to see it listed in 'all programs' (I remember seeing it as dell quickset when I was running win8.0 on my laptop)
        just now, what I have done is… I went to the programs folder and copied the shortcut icon to taskbar and start.
        why is it not showing in notification menu? can I do something about it?

        after the driver installation, I went to windows update, thinking there will be one or two updates, if any. there are 45 updates (and 5 'other' updates)
        is this normal/ok?
        should I download and install this through windows update? or wsus?

        I am having this feeling that all has not gone well. is there a way I can check if everything is as it should be?

        thank you for holding my finger all along this path.
        I shudder at the thought, what if you were not there to help.


    3. well I have tried it with diff programs that say to copy to flash drives but no luck or I am doing something wrong so if you can help me on my clean instill of win 8.1 thank you

      1. Good day to ask the question! Finally I got some new Dell hardware – Inspiron 7347. I also have upgraded my XPS 8300 to have USB 3.0 ports so I could use my new StarTech USB 3.0 HD Video Capture Device to capture within the Dell BIOS. I have done some personal testing with the Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool with its Windows 8.1 OEM license. I demonstrate making a bootable USB of the correct edition for use with a UEFI install with SecureBoot enabled. Take a look at the new tutorial videos at the top of this guide…

  2. Win 8.1 Core_Single_Language default key: Y9NXP-XT8MV-PT9TG-97CT3-9D6TC
    Works for OEM users,I hope.

    I did clean install by using Win 8.1 OEM media on Dell system which is Win 8.0 OEM licensed.It asked for product key at the beginning of installation,I used this key and it worked.And then activated using OEM key.

    1. Thanks just input it into a VM and it allows he installation to proceed with the Windows 8.1 Update 1 Single Language .iso. It can be added as a PID.txt file if the OEM key is rejected.

      If you have time can you make a bootable USB with the updated .iso and tell me if you go straight to the license screen or if it asks for a product key or finally if the installation is terminated?

      1. Yes I did,it didn't ask for product key.Went straight to the license screen.

        But my system is not showing USB path under the boot list options in boot menu (F12) if secure boot is ON.So I continued in OFF mode and finally it showed "Windows can't be installed on GPT partitioned disk" error for every drive of my hdd,didn't allow me to proceed further!

        I tried with all three types of Partition schemes in Rufus,didn't work.

        (I faced this before when I was installing Win 7.So I removed my hdd,converted to MBR using other system and installed.)

        Mine is Inspiron 15R 5521,Win 8.0 OEM licensed.

        I guess all preinstalled systems come with GPT partitioned disks,isn't it?

    2. Philip

      Thanks for the solution,I'll try that later and inform you.

      I tested on another system which is also Inspiron and Win 8.0 preinstalled but MBR partitioned.It went straight to the license screen,but not activated automatically.I used RWEverything to get embedded key and then activated.

      1. Hi Ravi

        Thanks for the feedback, its excellent news and it means that Ei.cfg and PID.txt files are not required.

        The RW-Everything and change key are simple enough steps to follow to activate the product.

  3. Windows 8.1 Default Keys:


    Core N=6NPQ8-PK64X-W4WMM-MF84V-RGB89


    Professional N=JRBBN-4Q997-H4RM2-H3B7W-Q68KC


    1. It definitely solves the problem – you do not need to modify any files, after installation simply enter your key and activate. I have / I installed Windows 8 Pro off course by taking an ISO image from the Media Creation Tool and this keys. Thanks.

    2. Hi Ravi

      Now that I am back from travelling I have done some extensive testing of the generic keys and the additional Media Centre Edition generic product key in a VM. This guide is significantly updated to address the issues users are getting stuck with.

      Thanks for the help.

      1. Hi Philip,

        Your guide looks like Wikipedia,covered all.It definitely solves the problems.

        I just wanted to know that activation of Windows by GVL keys is legal for personal use??
        If that is the case I'll share some generic keys of it here.
        And I found generic keys of Enterprise edition(Anyway you didn't recommend this for consumers).I'll share these keys also for those who use KMS to activate Windows if it is legal.

      2. They can be used for installation only and not product activation and some are available here which is essentially a Microsoft site, it has only the professional and enterprise editions:
        I'm not sure where all the others originally came from but I got them from you and

  4. I used mediacreationtool to download windows 8.1 update 1 iso and used it on a dell desktop to reinstall windows 8 after a the first hard drive died .
    From what I see if you have the internet plunged up to the computer when installing windows it will activate itself and if it has no internet then you will have to go and tell it to activated windows when you do get a internet connection .

  5. Thank you so much! Windows Store really sucks, my download kept breaking in between. This worked for my Asus laptop with Windows 8 Single Language OEM. Since I didn't have an extra flash drive around, I tried If I could just boot the .iso on VirtualCloneDrive and open it there and it did. It asked for a key, so I used the one from Ravi Teja.

    1. Thanks for posting, as you know from these guides I was very against forcing a service pack through the Windows store and the lack of an .iso especially for the OEM license. I'm glad Microsoft finally followed our feedback and its working its just a shame it took 2 years…

  6. I had removed Win8.1 from my computer and I reinstalled it with mediacreationtool to download windows 8.1 update 1 iso. During installation on an ASUS desktop it asked if I wanted to use the OEM or another activation. I used OEM and it found the code from the motherboard and activated windows ok.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Please describe in more detail how it "asked" you. What did the screen say? Did it automatically input the OEM key?

    2. I never come across this type of choices!!
      Which iso file have you used?

  7. Great guide, thanks – btw it suddenly start referring to Win 7 when you get to the section about creating the bootable usb which may confuse some.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, I copied and pasted that section from the Windows 7 guide, I changed Windows 7 to 8.1 in the text and put a note. I will likely update the images to 8.1 next time I create Windows 8.1 bootable media.

  8. This worked for me. I had an OEM key in bios and used the windows 8.1 download. it picked up the licence from bios and activated itself. works a treat 🙂

    1. Fantastic, thanks for letting me know, I was expecting/hoping it to work that way but needed some confirmation.

  9. I have an OEM 8.1 license on an Acer laptop. I was not asked for a license key. I used GPT partition scheme for UEFI computer (thou I'm not sure why. This stretches my abilities a bit.) But the guide is great. I was desperate to have a recovery disk and I was shocked to learn how difficult MS makes it. The disk should have been included with the system, or they at least could have included a copy of your excellent guide. It was easy to follow, even for me, and it worked.

    I couldn't figure out how to get Rufus to offer my dvd burner as a choice for "Device". The only choice was a 5gb VHD I created in an attempt to retrieve files backed up to an external HD from a vista system. (another function I thought MS would have offered, but didn't). So I let Rufus create the recovery to the VHD, then copied it to a dvd. It completed normally, but I'm not sure it's a valid recovery disk, given the fact I copied it as I did. Short of actually reinstalling the system, is there a way to test it?

    Thanks very much for making the guide available. Tim

    1. Tim

      Thanks for the kind words. Rufus is designed for USB install and not DVDs. There are programs such as ImgBurn which will easily burn the .iso to DVD.

      However I recommend not using a DVD, firstly as DVD drives are becoming obsolete and systems are shipping without them. Secondly I've seen that many users have multiple errors with burning DVDs. The third and main reason I do not recommend using a DVD or mention it as an option in this particular guide is because the UEFI/SecureBoot/GPT BIOS settings often don't allow one to boot from the DVD drive.

      I had a guide on making the DVD from the .iso with ImgBurn but again theres no sense if you cannot boot from the DVD with the UEFI/SecureBoot/GFPT BIOS settings.

      1. The new UEFI (BIOS replacement) with SecureBoot and GPT partition tables is causing much confusion. Thankfully most systems, except "Windows Surface" tablets, have a hybrid UEFI that will recognize BIOS-enabled boot devices *when you manually change settings*.

        After reading various guides online, I learned that you have to *turn off* "Fast Boot" and "Secure Boot" and *turn on* "Enable Launch CSM" to boot from *any* BIOS-enabled media. I am successfully able to boot from both USB and DVD/CD media. Thankfully, I do *not* have to change those settings to boot from the 8.1 that came installed on my computer, so I guess that comes both BIOS-enabled and UEFI-enabled, or else it doesn't matter for the hard disk itself. (I am only guessing at the reason.)

        The other thing I have to do (and this may be due to the manufacturer of my UEFI/BIOS), is *change the boot order* every time I want to change how I boot! For some reason, even though it shows a list, it does not actually step through it! Whatever I left as "Boot Option #1" is the only thing it will try. (I have an ASUS N56J-EB71 notebook.)

        BTW, I use CDBurnerXP, which is extremely simple to use for ISOs. Simply choose that you want to burn a disc from and ISO image, and in the window that pops up, select your options. (You should leave the options alone unless you know what you're doing, except for simple things like asking it to eject the disc or shut down the computer when done, if you wish.) I *highly recommend* checking the option to verify after burning, which takes longer than the actual burning itself, but it's worth it for the trouble it saves!

        Thank you so much for your awesome tutorial! I don't have a Dell, but all the processes should be the same. BTW, I recommend these tools for probing one's hardware in preparation for finding drivers:

        * Belarc Advisor
        * UBCD (Ultimate Boot CD) – Per (UBCD or PartedMagic? I forgot) website, certain versions of a PartedMagic component have problems with newer systems. Recommend using version UBCD 5.2.5 (new enough, without the problems).
        * Sysinfo (from DreamSoft, not the other one)

        Of course, Dell also has its own tools. But HP's website has so many problems, I've never been able to get their tools to run on any of my HP systems, or even, in some cases, download any drivers! (You may have to find them from other sources, like DriverGuide or Tom's Hardware.)

      2. Thanks for the reply, I actually recommend use of Berlarc Advisor (and need to update this page):

        I actually advise leaving UEFI on and SecureBoot on when possible. There are advantages in the GPT partition scheme in the way the data is stored and the reliability. There are also advantages with SecureBoot (for most customers who only want to run Windows). SecureBoot will stop Malware from booting up before the OS.

        Also it does significantly decrease the boot time and you can see users complaining that they disabled these technologies and their system boots much slower.

        For Windows 7 64 Bit SecureBoot is not supported but UEFI is. This guide was updated to convert a Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation DVD or generic Installation DVD into a Bootable USB for installation with UEFI:
        There are some issues with USB 3.0 ports and the installation of Windows 7 with some newer systems and these need to be set to debug in the UEFI BIOS setup.

        On the Windows side of things I am not recommending anyone to install any other Windows OS besides Windows 7/8.1/10 64 Bit. If users want a 32 Bit OS or dual boot with Linux, bog standard hardware is now well suited for virtualisation in most cases. For this reason I have spent some time writing guides connecting legacy hardware to a VM in VMWare Player focusing on Windows 98SE and XP:

        I also recommend the same virtualisation for Linux because I have seen many people want to evaluate Linux and don't like it and in doing so ruin their Windows install. Of course this won't suit the die hard Linux fans who want to use the full power of their PC with Linux however most 64 Bit Linux distributions support SecureBoot.

        Also regarding HP, I am not a great fan of their hardware (the way things are put together, their manuals and driver services) but its been a while since I have looked at HP hardware. Dells Drivers and Downloads also lack but they have a nice FTP website. Many of the utilities for automatically detecting drivers etc. do not work. Also many third party utilities take users to questionable sources. For Dell hardware I can get the drivers for the systems with the hardware IDs and model number.

        I've had a look into CDBurnerXP but I prefer ImgBurn unfortunately both programs have installers embedded with Malware.

        I got banned from Tom's Hardware for trying to help out by linking to my guides and I have never been back.

  10. Hi Phillip! Hoping you can help with this….I got a Dell Inspiron 1535 laptop which I extracted the embedded OEM key from and the OS is listed as "WINDOWS 8.1 CONNECTED"….I'm trying to do a clean install of 8.1 onto a new SSD (Intel 530 120gb) I got…..I'm trying the methods you are mentioning here….I used the MS downloader and got the 64bit 8.1 installed using one of the generic keys, but ONLY if I switched from SATA to ATA in the BIOS…it won't let me install with AHCI….I get to that point where it asks for storage drivers and does not see the SSD at all (I looked everywhere for some sort of AHCI drivers but came up empty)….so, when I switch it to ATA, I can install Windows…the funny thing is my OEM key will NOT be accepted even once I get Windows installed…so, wondering if maybe I picked the wrong version to download? I don't see anyone else mentioning this "8.1 Connected"…..this is maddening….just to install the OS?! what are these idiots thinking?!..


    1. I have never heard of the Inspiron 1535. There is a Studio 1535 but this was a 2008 system that came with Windows Vista and won't have a Windows 8.0/8.1 BIOS Embedded SLP key.

      I have never heard of "Windows 8.1 Connected". A search for either system or this Windows version doesn't come up with anything.

      Regarding the AHCI, it seems you need a SATA driver:

      I can't advise on what to use as I see no Inspiron 1535.

  11. Hi there
    when i download the Media Creation too from the link you provided, it opens to the first screen but the menus are not populated and I cannot progress from that screen. Any suggestions please? Currently running 8.1 update 1 on a Sony Vaio Duo 11

    1. I've not encountered that problem does the tab and arrow keys do anything? Try running it on another computer.

  12. Awesome guide, Philip! The Windows 8.1 OEM core .iso installed on my Inspiron 3542 without prompting me for a product key.

  13. Hi Guys,
    I upgraded windows 8.1 OEM just by using the windows 8 pro upgrade key that i bought from Microsoft when windows 8 was released in november 2012.
    Just type the product key in "ADD FEATURES" reboot and then go to Activate windows en use the activate by phone option ( the toll free number).
    Now i am running a Legal windows 8.1 Pro

  14. Does the ISO file require to be downloaded in one go? I have a relatively slow DSL connection, and that too, with a small download quota. Can I split the download between different locations (i.e., start the download at home, pause it, and continue it elsewhere)?

  15. Hi Philip, I was just wondering if the fixes above would work for a machine that apparently recognizes the product key but is blocking it from activating? I get an error code from Windows 0xC004C003. The machine came preloaded with Windows 8. Before this problem I did a factory reset yesterday and now the error described has happened.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Mike, have you resolved your issue? Same Refresh issue wont recognize my Office suite. Any advise?

    2. I'm not sure if you will rn into the same error or not. If you do then you should phone Microsoft to activate Windows. Sorry for the late reply I never seen the comment earlier.

  16. Thanks, this worked a treat. Clean installed windows 8.1 core onto a new ssd in my 2012 Toshiba satellite p850-321. Did not ask for a key during installation and auto activated, presumably due to embedded win 8 OEM key.

    Had to burn a DVD as could not boot from USB (turned out to be a bios issue fixed in a newer version available from Toshiba), and needed a USB mouse as trackpad not recognised until driver downloaded

  17. Hello.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. You're the number one.
    Thank you very much.

  18. How do I know what version of windows 8 I had installed ? I have my product key and I can see the configuration of my product at dell website, It says only windows 8 , so I suppose it was plain windows 8, right?

    1. It should be according to the label however you may also want to download single language just in case. These new .isos works with both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (8 Service Pack 1) product keys.

  19. My installation froze at 60% so i had to reinstall windows 8 just to create a new disc from the image i had backed up on another drive. on the 2nd attempt i discovered the dvd failed on writing (run verify disc when writing) maybe a shoddy disc or the ludicrously high speed it tries to write at, why can't I manually slow it to something sensible? so instead I used the Rufus program to create the Usb install. I ran the scan for bad sectors (I set to 1 pass) and my first attempt found the old usb drive to be too faulty to proceed. I used a newer drive and this all worked!
    I formatted my SSD using the Linux OCZ Toolbox for my drive on another usb first. so in brief from this point I:

    1. hit F12 on boot up screen to select the USB
    2. entered the original Windows 8 OEM key when prompted
    3. Selected the drive to be installed on
    4. Celebrated when it all worked and that it says in the settings Windows is activated!

    I see that it has kept all my bookmarks, the current desktop wallpaper and internet passwords, not sure what else yet but it does seem it's added things to the Windows.iso file, so I assume it can't, or shouldn't be given to anyone else to try on their pc!

    Thanks for the guide

    1. The .iso is generic and can be used on multiple systems.
      The Internet Explorer bookmarks and some customisation settings such as Desktop Background/Lockscreen that you have retained are usually synced to your Microsoft Account. Therefore as you logged in to your Microsoft Account these files and settings were automatically re-downloaded and applied. Similarly with all files/folders saved on OneDrive.

      The idea is that everyone has their files on the cloud to make Windows installation and working with multiple PCs better/easier. The OneDrive cloud storage usually automatically backups versions. OneDrive still isn't a perfect solution but its getting there.

    2. With CDBurnerXP you can manually chose the burn speed. Burning too slow can cause problems, too, so for most people, it's best to leave it as automatic or whatever gets selected for you. If you have problems with the speed you may want to research your specific DVD burner online.

    1. thank you Philip.
      I read your suggestions/answers in the comment at the dell forum.

      just one more confirmation needed.

      do you suggest update installation directly from windows update rather than using wsus?


      is it okay even if I use wsus (recent build 95)?



      1. You can use either, in your case just use the Windows Update.

        The WSUS update is really only needed when alot of updates are required and major updates such as Service Packs.

      2. thanks Philip.
        everything seems to be okay. all updates installed (except the optional one, which has the huge one – kb3000850. and I read somewhere it creates lot of problems. so, am waiting to find out more before attempting).

        but, there is a new problem.

        I had turned off the secure boot and turned on the legacy boot, while installing 8.1.
        now, I am unable to change it back.
        if I do (that is, turn on uefi secure boot), the message returns saying this:

        internal hard disk drive not found
        to resolve this issue, try to reseat the drive
        no bootable device – strike f1 to retry boot, f2 enter setup, f5 enter psa.

        so, I had to return to legacy boot with secure boot off.

        because of this, the start up is taking quite long.

        any suggestions? guidance?


  20. Philip,
    I am still stuck.
    i seem to have installed 8.1 with MBR style partition.
    I am able to use uefi boot mode, but the start up time is too long. so, I am having to use legacy mode for boot.

    should I reinstall again (with GPT style) and use uefi booting? or MBR-legacy mode is ok?

    thank you.

    1. Its up to you it sounds as though everything is working, it depends how much the boot time annoys you.

      As I mentioned before I have limited experience with SecureBoot/UEFI so can't advise inside out and need to evaluate it when I get a new system and aren't travelling/trying to finish a PhD.

    2. Biren, I myself haven't done my clean install yet, but as to the issues with booting, did you choose UEFI when you created the USB installer? If not, maybe your resulting hard disk installation is only BIOS-enabled, when ideally, you should choose UEFI-enabled.

      Just a thought.

      1. …And further, reading what Phillip replied to Jay (below), you need to turn *off* Secure Boot (and also maybe turn *on* Enable Launch CSM) when actually booting from the USB.

        But make sure you *chose* "UEFI" when *creating* that USB to begin with. Best wishes!

  21. I have an ASUS G751 laptop I upgraded the hard drive….I followed the tutorial and Windows is prompting me for a key. It's not pulling it from the bios and I have no idea what my key is. I tried rweverything and there is no MSDM tab..any suggestions?

    1. No MSDM table = no product key therefore nothing on this page will help you.

      The OEM product key is essentially regarded as hardware (part of the motherboard). You will need to call ASUS and arrange a motherboard replacement if the systems in warranty. I think its overkill for a missing product key but I have seen a good few threads on the forums which have required this. You can also try to see if any BIOS updates are available. These may restore your key but I am doubtful.

      If its out of warranty then install the Windows 10 Technical Preview and evaluate it until its fully released then take advantage of any promotional deal when its released.

  22. Hi,

    Please note that the USB drive MUST be formatted as FAT32 in order to boot in a UEFI environment. Please note this in case you want to format in a GPT partition system. If you format it as NTSF it will never boot. You must also disable Secure Boot in the BIOS.



    1. Thanks I will add your note, I haven't got a UEFI system to test with at the moment so my guides are lacking with the UEFI/SecureBoot BIOS.

  23. Hello,

    I just re-installed my Asus laptop using the mediacreationtool from Microsoft. Using the tool I downloaded the Windows 8.1 x64 version in Dutch using a FAT32 formatted USB-stick. Before the installation I selected the USB-stick with the EUFI option. During Installation I did not had to input my product key, so I assume it took the embedded key automatically. I checked if Windows was activated and it was. Ooo, and i used a Windows 8 product key, so glad that worked without any problems.

    Kind regards,


    1. Hi Rick

      Thanks for leaving feedback that you managed to carry out a UEFI install; that it took your product key and that it activated Windows automatically. It will make other users much more confident with carrying out the same procedure and I think we are getting all the information to clamp down on most the installation issues users are having with the newer UEFI BIOS and Windows 8.1 in general.


  24. Hi Phillip,

    Is there a way to make sure what edition of Windows you have on your USB drive? My problem was, after 4 days of trying to reinstall Windows, and thinking I had the right installer downloaded from the Microsoft server with the Media Creation Tool and selecting (in my case Windows 8.1 Single Language), turns out that I installed Windows 8.1 (no Single Language) and my BIOS stored key obviously doesn't work, because it for a Single Language license.



    1. Its the problem I was highlighting in these guides, unfortunately there is no easy way of changing edition on the USB (like thw Windows 7 ei.cfg trick). This is also the reason why we can't help those with the Bing versions. You'll need to use the Media Creation Tool again to download the correct .iso and remake the USB.

  25. But I did (obviously I didn't because I ended up with 8.1), I remember choosing the right version from the 3 drop down menus, that's what bugs me… I wish there was a file or folder within these downloaded .ISOs that could tell each version apart. I am downloading another ISO right now and making a video of it. I will update ASAP.



  26. Hi Philip,

    I am stuck at the "please wait" screen on mediacreationtool. I have a retail license for the Windows 8 Pro. I dont have a clue as to why the windows .iso file wont start to download.

      1. ok. I will but I am sure it is not.
        thanks anyways

  27. Hi Philip,

    I was successful in downloading the windows 8.1 Pro.ISO ( I have a retail windows 8 product key) using the media creation tool. The size of the .ISO file is 3.19 GB. I hope it's the right file. I am asking this coz I think I saw somewhere on the net that the file is more than 3.5GB in size.

    1. I have listed the sizes of my English UK 64 Bit .isos but the size seems to vary depending on Language and Edition.

      1. hey Philip,

        Thanks for the response. Will check your post. 🙂

    2. I also downloaded the 64 Bit US ones and have listed the size of the .isos that I got. I will just focus with the size of the English ones as it takes too long to download all the .isos of other languages.

  28. Hi Philipyip

    I would like to thank you sooooo much for this blog. before I started to look on the internet to sort out my problem. I called Dell to help me out as the warrantry expired. just to make a copy of OS CD /DVD they will charge me alot of money. then I tought its worth to try something myself. I have read your blog and I started to try it on my computer. i took me alot of time to make it write but your information and the step by step guidelines were very useful and so accurte to get my system running up again.
    I have the inspiron 15 Z ultrabook, for some reason I formatted the computer and I lost the refactory drive and system Image. I have no OS to install.
    your guidance was perfect and amazing. initially i thought it would not work but it worth to try.

    just to let you know when i made the DVD os and I nstall it the system never asked me for Key product. I already found the Key product from Bios as your guide.
    when I started the system and gone through the steps, it never asked me to put the key product. i was not connected to internet at all. when I checked the it was saying inactive and need to active it. then I connected to internet and I switch the comoputer off, then I swtiched on and i checked the system again and it was automatically actived.

    again, thanks you so much for your help


  29. Since USB flash drives are MUCH more expensive compared to CD and DVD media and Microsoft abruptly and rudely removed the ability to create recovery media on CDs/DVDs in windows 8.1 (and 8?), I took on the challenge of converting the USB stick recovery drive generated via the pretty well hidden Windows 8.1 image backup/restore feature into a uefi bootable CD (sans Dell factory recovery partition) and DVD DL (with Dell factory recovery partition).

    After a lot of research on the web, I have developed a batch file which contains a process to create these two images using the image burning tool in the Microsoft ADK kit. It runs on windows 7 (even 32 bit) and should run on win 8 or 8.1. The uefi boot is required since the newer Dell systems are GPT structure – which can't be accessed with legacy BIOS boot disks (except perhaps to do an image restore?). There are one or two BIOS settings that may need to be changed from default to use a boot cd/dvd that don't seem to affect normal booting. Let me know the best way to provide this information.

    1. It sounds like an interesting project, does the Windows 8.1 install still work after SecureBoot is enabled? I'm not sure where the best place is to load batch files – if it isn't too big OneDrive. Also I don't have a Windows 8.x system with UEFI BIOS and an optical drive to hand to test with. You may also also want to get in contact with Pete who write Rufus, he may be interested in this as it was one of the additional features he was thinking of implementing for Rufus (how to copy bootable USBs to DVD/.iso to recreate them).

  30. I made the mistake of buying a Dell laptop with windows 8 and then purchased the windows 8 "Pro Pack". Upgrading to windows 8.1 has been a nightmare (failed/corrupted system 4-5 times now). Will this method work for me? I can't use the pro pack key on 8.1 (tried that). I have to upgrade on 8 first then install the 8.1 update. So a reinstall for me is: Install win 8 using dell recovery usb. Upgrade to pro with my pro pack key. Install 8.1 through MS store. Pain in the ass especially when the 8.1 upgrade goes sour. Would be handy to just clean install 8.1 or even just use this method to upgrade to 8.1 so I don't have to download 3.5GB each damn time. Any help would be muchas gracias. Cheers

    1. Jim the problem is determining the Edition of your base OEM install… Forget about the Pro Pack for just now. I assume you downloaded a Windows 8.1 Professional .iso (the Pro Pack key won't work with it) and it came with a Home OEM Edition.

      Restore your Windows 8 OEM install (without the Pro Pack) and follow the instructions to determine the Edition.Once you know the Edition; this guide takes you through downloading Windows 8.1 with Update 1 Media circumventing getting the update through the buggy store. Install (delete all partitions and create new ones) and activate your base install.

      You can then add your Pro Pack key to "add features with a new edition of Windows" as I demonstrate here:
      Note failure to ensure your base install is activated before using Add Features may result in activation failure of the Pro Pack.

      Once all the drivers are installed and the product is activated, install Dell Backup and Recovery to make a new Recovery partition for the clean installation.

      1. Thanks Phil, I will give that another try. My base OEM version is just Windows 8.

        The only problem I have is that my windows 8 pro pack key does not work through the "add features with a new edition of Windows" on windows 8.1. It says it's an invalid key. My windows 8.1 was activated first, so it wasn't that. It seems that the windows 8 pro pack can only be installed on windows 8 🙁

      2. Scrap that, it finally worked!!! The update 1 ISO must have finally allowed my pro pack 8 key. Thanks Phil. You are a life saver! MS should employ you. You're 1000 times better than MS tech support who couldn't help me at all. Clowns. Thanks again and have a nice day 🙂

      3. Glad it helped, the Windows Media Creation Tool has a number of fixes over the older version. Microsoft could definitely improve their Windows deployment and my guides give alot of feedback for doing that.

        Be sure to vote for the idea at the top of the page on the Windows uservoice so they don't make the same issues with Windows 10 and leave them a comment explaining your issues.

      4. Done and dusted mate. I gave you 3 votes on each of them. Thanks again!

  31. Hi there,
    Here i'm facing the problem that in past I lost my genuine windows 8 (standard edition) and after that i installed win 8 pro which i made mistake. Now i want my old Windows get back, and i'm trying to make .iso file from Media creation tool but it gives errors. Can someone help me out?
    Any help will be appreciated.

    1. Its giving you errors? Please expand on the specific errors otherwise we can't help you…
      Also what is the make/model of your system?

      1. First thanks for fast reply.
        It's giving only "server execution failed"
        I am using Toshiba satellite D850 – 19D

  32. I think my windows has been corrupted. Maybe that's why Media creation tool is unable to make an .iso file.
    Is it possible that I can get somewhere online .iso file of Windows 8.0 home edition?

    1. Use another computer to download, the downloaders for Windows 8.0 are significantly more buggy than the Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool. You will also encounter issues updating…

  33. I have lenovo g510 I deleted recovery partition. I have downloaded W8.1 SL and it activated automatically. I have problem with wireless. Whenever I try to install wireless drivers it is getting bluescreen message "irql_not_less_or_equal" message. I downloaded w8.1 compatble drivers from lenovo website but still same issue. Tried Windows 7 drivers as well. I have also tried to update

    I have installed Windows 7 and wireless drivers installed and working but but I don't have windows 7 key. I want o use w 8.1 but wireless drivers are not getting installed. Please help me

    1. I am not an expert with Lenovo Drivers. In particular the driver does not mention whether it is Atheros, Broadcom or Realtek but instead mentions all 3 vendors:
      It does sound like a bad driver however. Also you have installed the chipset drivers first? These need installed for other drivers to load correctly.
      Hardware IDs may help:
      Its best to make a new post on Microsoft Answers.

  34. hello,
    i have just bought a laptop with FREE DOS.
    i want windows 8.1 pro but not purchased it yet.
    can i use media creation tool to download and install it?
    will generic key work for installation as i am planning to buy it some time later.
    will i be able to activate windows when i buy it, without fresh installation.

    thanks in advance.

    1. Yes it will allow you to download a .iso and you can install with a generic key. You will be nagged from time to time about product activation. Later on it will force log you out after 10 minutes (I think this is after 30 days but not sure). The only thing is you need a Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 system to use the Windows Media Creation Tool. Personally I would just advise installing Windows 10 Technical Preview and evaluating it. You can then take the path from Windows 10 TP to Windows 10 RTM possibly with a discount or maybe even a free upgrade.

      1. U maen i should install windows 10 tech preview insted of windows 8.1 and when windows 10 will officially come out i will be able to upgrade..

      1. Downloaded a new iso for windows 10TP
        Philip do i need to use a new email id as the one i have was alreday been used buy me for win 10TP earlier in my old machine.(when TP was initially launched)
        Or is it will allow me to use TP with the same email id.

      2. You can use the same email on all your machines, that is one of the major points of the Microsoft Account and services like OneDrive which sync across all PCs you log into.

  35. Very, very frustrating choices by MS. My Win 8.1 laptop disk crashed. Manufacturer, as most now does not provide Win install disk. Fine, I can count on MS? No. I do not have another Win 7 or newer PC and new tool won't work on my old perfectly functional Win XP machine. Why? I do not want to upgrade that PC. I want to burn image and re-install completely non-functional system, which i OBVIOUSLY CAN'T USE TO DOWNLOAD AND RUN THE TOOL… Where are ISO images? Why can't I just download one of them, I have perfectly valid key…

    1. Agreed but I have been making points about their flawed Windows Media Distribution since 2011, more so since 2012 when Windows 8 was released.

      The Media Creation Tool is better but has its flaws which is why I have left the feedback on the Windows uservoice addressing the flaws in the media distribution. Add your votes to these and leave a comment there telling Microsoft how frustrated you are.

      As I write its a catch22 a modern Windows OS required to download a modern Windows OS…

      You can perform the following workaround. Download Windows 10 TP:
      Its a prerelease version of Windows but available as a direct .iso download. Install it on your laptop you are fixing and then use it to launch the media creation tool to create a USB to revert to Windows 8.1 (or alternatively evaluate Windows 10)….

  36. I have purchased win 8.1 single language 64 bit O.E.M. license for my new system, but now i want to deploy Win 8.1 32 bit, will same key work for both 32 & 64 bit or i have to purchase new one.

  37. Philip i have one more question i have assembled a new system with Asus H81 mother board and Dual Core 4th Gen. Intel processor and 4 Gb Ram, and purchased Win 8.1 SL O.E.M. License.
    Now after activating windows is there any way i merged product key in BIOS and also how can i make recovery partition as it comes with branded system like Dell, Asus, Hp etc, so that whenever i format my system i just reinstall through Recovery partition and that time no requirement for install all drivers again and insert product key.

    1. That OEM license is an OEM system builders license and not a major OEM license.

      As an end user you cannot add or alter the key to the UEFI BIOS. The major OEM UEFI BIOS SLP key are designed so they can only be added/altered by the manufacturer. One of the main points is so the end user doesn't remove them and they are always tied to the motherboard.

      My guides recommend the use of Dell Backup and Recovery which will make a recovery partition on a clean install but this will only work with a Dell system and you don't have a Dell system however.

      Therefore I recommend you make a refresh image instead, see my guide here:

  38. I am still on premium Dell support. I have pre-installed Win 8 OEM. After I upgraded to Win 8.1 I had problems. Dell helped me to re-install Win 8 from their Win 8 DVD disk (they sent me Win 8 OEM disk). After upgrade to Win 8.1 I got the same problems. Therefore I am thinking of clean install Win 8.1. I contacted Dell and they promised me to send Win 8.1 OEM disk. What do you suggest – to use .iso to be created using Windows Media Creation Tool or at first try their OEM? What the problem with key in OEM? Could I insert my key built in BIOS if this disk to be req'd insert key or or use generic key and later activate with my key from "Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\System -> Windows activation -> Change activation key?" (If the wrong .iso is used with your OEM product key then you will get stuck on the Enter Your Product Key Screen)

    If I use Windows Media Creation Tool (if OEM 8.1 method would fail) how to install drivers? I have Dell XPS 8500. What I found out:

    Dell Update Application


    Creative Labs Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe Audio Card Driver

    Realtek ALC887 Audio Driver

    BIOS (has been installed) – re-install?

    Chipset (2 files)

    Intel AMT HECI Driver

    Intel Panther Point H77 Driver

    Network (2 files)

    Dell DW1703 802.11 b/g/n,BT4.0 + HS

    Realtek 8111E Network

    Removable Storage

    Card Reader driver

    Serial ATA

    Intel Rapid Storage Technology

    Video (4 files)

    Intel Integrated GFX Driver

    AMD Graphics HD7570/HD7470 Driver

    AMD Radeon 6xxx/7xxx/8xxx/R9 xxx Desktop Graphics Driver

    NV WHQL Driver for 5xx/6xx/7xx Series cards supporting Windows 8.1

    For example, I see that there are drivers for Radeon and AMD? What driver to be selected? In what order I have to install drivers? I also have a disk with drivers were sent when I bought my computer

    Thank you in advance

  39. I need product key for activating windows 8 with bing please I can not find it and my laptop is going off

    1. There is no .iso image for the Bing Edition but follow the instructions on this page to get your key from the MSDM tab using RWEverything.

  40. mediacreationtool fails to download the ISO file. It produces the following error message:
    "The download task did not complete.
    The parameter is incorrect."

    1. PC is connected to the Internet.
    2. The language list does not look like the one in your photo above; the only English options I see are "English (United States)" and "English (United Kingdom)". PC's Language is "English (Canada)" so I chose "English (United States)".
    3. Lenovo PC has OEM version of "Windows 8.1".
    4. Architecture is "x64".

    I chose "ISO", indicated to place it in Documents (also tried Desktop and Downloads but this shouldn't matter), and then mediacreationtool immediately responded with the error message shown above.

    Any idea why this simple operation is failing?

    Is it because I chose "English (United States)" and mediacreationtool compares it with the default language, "English (Canada)", and refuses to proceed because of the disparity? FWIW, I added "English (United States)" as a second language and tried mediacreationtool again but it failed with the same error message.

    1. I can download English UK and English US in the UK so you should be able to download both in Canada. Not too sure about that error message. Try disabling your firewall.

      1. Thank for your prompt reply. Your suggestion, turning off Windows Firewall, wasn't the cure but it did serve as a valuable hint: something could be blocking mediacreationtool's access to the Internet.

        My router is running Tomato with a "blocking" function that prevents access to ad and malware sites for all networked devices in my home. I disabled the blocker temporarily and that permitted mediacreationtool to download the ISO. The downloaded list of blocked sites can be "overly aggressive" at times and this was such a case.

        I now have Windows 8.1 Installation Media on DVD. Thanks for your help.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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."

  45. 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… 🙂

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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?

  53. 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.


  54. 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.

  55. 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?

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


    Thanks in advance.

  57. 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.

  58. 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?

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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.


  66. 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?

  67. 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.


  68. 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.

  69. Pingback: Anonymous
  70. 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.

  71. 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:

  72. 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?

  73. 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

  74. 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

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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. 🙂

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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!

  81. 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.

  82. Dude. You are a legitimate Godsend…. Ive been trying to restore 8.1 on my Dell Desktop for a day and a half now, browsing the dell forums, installing dell apps, etc. Makes me so happy that i work for HP. lol. Many thanks!

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