Replacing hard drive on OEM PC with Windows 8

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by velocityg4, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    I've been performing computer repairs for several years now. Now I've encountered a problem which I have not encountered before. Performing a reinstall of Windows 8 on an OEM PC with a failed hard drive?

    With previous versions of Windows I could just install off my universal retail disc or USB key (Win 7) that I made. Then use the product key off the OEM sticker. Using the phone activation system to get it to activate. Now it seems that is no longer possible with Win 8 since the product key is hidden in the UEFI.

    So does anyone know of a way to get a retail USB flash drive to install the OEM version? So that it will accept the product key automatically from the UEFI then be able to activate online.

    I would rather not have to say to people that Windows cannot be reinstalled unless they pay the manufacturer $40+ to send new installation media. Then wait one or two weeks for it to arrive.

    I know that there are activators to "patch" Windows 8 once installed. But this is not acceptable either. Since they have a legitimate license. They shouldn't have to make the reinstall illegitimate and face possible issues in the future from a Windows update breaking it.

    I've tried editing ei.cfg but that no longer seems to be valid with Windows 8. I also need a sure fire method. Since I have no way to test. My laptop is a Mac and my desktops are home built. So there is no way to test if it will accept a UEFI key until I try on a customers computer.
  2. jeremysteele, Mar 20, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014

    jeremysteele macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2011
    I just ran into the same problem with my Samsung laptop. Swapped out the drive with an SSD a while back and installed linux. This was maybe 3 months ago. Wound up erasing it's HDD in the mean time - didn't make the dvd media (doh!)

    Then I went to reinstall Win 8 a few days ago.

    Got the UEFI (OEM) key off it via Linux - went to install using my retail media and it simply said it required a retail key every time I entered the OEM key. Even though the version was the same.


    Anyhoo, wound up finally figuring out how to make it work. Don't have the exact guide I used - but it was similar to this:

    For whatever reason my OEM key didn't work at install - but it worked afterwards and everything is active. Didn't require any extra software - you're just deactivating a junk key and reactivating with a legit one, all using built in tools.

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