Install Windows 8.1 without a Product Key (Skip Key Input)

windows 8 logo iconSo you’ve got a Windows 8.1 ISO, but it is not letting you start the installation before inputting the product key? This is because Windows setup finds out which version to install from the Product Key and hence product key is needed before proceeding with the installation. But what if you want to install and trial Windows 8.1 before purchasing? You can easily force the setup to skip the Product Key check and proceed with the installation.

Skip Product Key Input in Windows 8.1 Setup

To achieve our objective, we need to edit the ei.cfg (edition configuration) file present inside the /sources folder of the ISO image. All we need to do is to provide the version details inside this file so that Windows Setup is not needed to ask for a product key to install the appropriate version relevant to that product key.

  1. If you are going to install Windows 8.1 using a USB drive, transfer the installation files to the USB and then proceed to step 2. On the other hand if you need to create a DVD, open the ISO using a utility such as MagicISO so that the structure is not affected.
  2. Browse to the /sources folder.
  3. Look for the ei.cfg file and open it in a text editor such as Notepad or Notepad++ (preferred). If the file doesn’t already exist, create a new text document and rename it as ei.cfg
  4. Now amend the file depending on the version which is included in your particular copy and the version which you want to install. For Professional edition which will be the best bet for most of the users, paste the following context into the ei.cfg file. Make sure that anything that already exists in the file should be cleared first.
    [EditionID]
    Professional
    [Channel]
    Retail
    [VL]
    0
  5. Save the file and run the Windows 8.1 setup again. The setup will not ask for the Product Key anymore.
This is not a hack or anything illegal. The configuration above is supported by Windows installer and is well documented by Microsoft and can also be used on some other versions of Windows as well.
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61 Responses to Install Windows 8.1 without a Product Key (Skip Key Input)

  1. Minh LOL March 6, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Good, i’m ssucces

  2. Jay April 26, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Thanks for this !

  3. va April 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    i don’t see ei.cfg file ?

    • Narender Singh April 28, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

      As I wrote, if it doesn’t exist already, create it :)

      • va April 29, 2014 at 12:16 am #

        ThankQ very much, sir!..

        • Narender Singh April 29, 2014 at 12:37 am #

          Hoping that it worked. Enjoy Windows 8.1 :)

  4. someone May 8, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    That corrupts the ISO for me.

    • Narender Singh May 8, 2014 at 12:20 am #

      How are you editing the ISO?

  5. Maiko May 25, 2014 at 4:29 am #

    thaks from Brazil dude!
    you really help me

    • Narender Singh May 25, 2014 at 10:40 am #

      Thanks for the appreciation, Maiko. Enjoy!

    • Lucas July 22, 2014 at 1:05 am #

      DUDE.. From Brazil huh?

      SOMOS 2 hahahah

      falow irmao

  6. Vijayant Verma May 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    thanks bro it really works 4 me ;-)………

    u r really gr8…….

    • Narender Singh May 27, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      Thank you, Vijayant

  7. Real Farmer June 18, 2014 at 6:40 am #

    Works for me thank you so MUCH!!!!!

  8. aman kumar June 19, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    hey i got this msg –

    windows could not collect information for [OSImage] since the specified image file [install.wim] dose not exist.

    plz help me.

    • Narender Singh June 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

      How are you trying to install? It can be a problem with your DVD Drive.

      • aman kumar June 19, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

        i am trying to install from usb. 1st of all i make bootable usb using power iso then copy the file ei.cfg in source folder.

        • Narender Singh June 20, 2014 at 10:43 am #

          Try using this method of creating USB. If it still does not work, your ISO or DVD might be having issues.

  9. Danny Joe August 8, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    I got Product Key is corrupted error.

    • Narender Singh August 8, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      There might be an error. Try redoing :)

      • Danny Joe August 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

        Ah..
        I found my mistake..
        I did it on enterprise version :D
        Thanks!
        Your method is helpful :D

        • Narender Singh August 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm #

          hehe.. Great! I guess you should be able to make it work with an enterprise version by changing the edition id to enterprise or something :)

  10. khalid jaafari August 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Thanks, it works for me.

    • Narender Singh August 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      Great to know that :) Enjoy!

  11. roopesh August 18, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    not work for m . why my os in 8.1 professional.

    • Narender Singh August 18, 2014 at 8:32 am #

      You probably did something wrong there.

      • roopesh August 18, 2014 at 11:19 am #

        in my ei.cfg file content is
        [EditionID]
        professional
        [Channel]
        Retail
        [VL]
        0

        wt i change please reply me

        • Narender Singh August 18, 2014 at 11:55 am #

          Where did you download your Windows 8.1 copy from? Are you sure it is not one of the VL copies?

        • Narender Singh August 18, 2014 at 11:56 am #

          And can you mention what error message do you see? What actually happens?

  12. Tobias Rosengren August 18, 2014 at 2:26 am #

    What do you type in the edition id for the standard edition of windows 8.1? Just Standard? And do i change it from retail to OEM if i have a OEM product key that i want to use later?

    • Narender Singh August 18, 2014 at 8:29 am #

      Hey Tobias
      The standard is the core version of Win 8.1. So EditionID will be Core there.
      I believe you can still use OEM keys in the retail version, but because re-installing Windows is a huge task, better to change it to OEM. Yep that’s the correct value :)

  13. roopesh August 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Skip key option are not there or show

  14. Stenko August 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    works like a charm! ;) thx !!

    • Narender Singh August 27, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

      Good to know that :) Enjoy!

  15. Rama September 21, 2014 at 12:10 am #

    Wow its works for me :) Thanks !!!

    • Narender Singh September 21, 2014 at 8:51 am #

      Glad to know that it was helpful :)

  16. Aoyon October 3, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Works great, thanks a lot mate :)

  17. Aakash October 14, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    Does it work for OEM windows 8, single language x64? Channel mentioned in the copy is “volume” and VL is 1. would it be okay to edit the cfg file?

  18. Daniel October 17, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    So is this a trial version? I understand skipping the product key portion of it, but is it going to as for the key at a later time??

    • Narender Singh October 17, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

      Yes you will be needed to enter a key or else use some AutoKMS type of things or anything you want to. You’re just skipping the product key requirement during the setup. Rest all remaining the same.

  19. vishal October 21, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    en_windows_8.1_with_update_x64_dvd_4065090 this is mine , not working plz suggest

  20. Mk786 November 1, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Thanks for the ei trick!

  21. prady November 1, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    thanks helped a lot

  22. PiyuS November 2, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Hello,
    after i choose to install windows 8.1 Pro from that menu, i get a message saying
    “Window cannot find the microsoft software license terms………..”
    Why is that?

    • Narender Singh November 2, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Probably an issue with the ISO image. Where did you get it from?

  23. Raja November 3, 2014 at 5:52 am #

    I was download windows 8.1 from internet, now how can I install it ??

    • Narender Singh November 3, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      Burn the ISO to a DVD or make a bootable USB and start the installation.

  24. johnson November 5, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    Hi, I already installed windows 8.1 and skipped the step which is asking for key..Now i am getting pop ups to activate wndows. Please help me in getting rid of this pop ups.

    Thanks

    • Narender Singh November 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      You may either choose to purchase a new Windows 8.1 license key, or else you can use some KMS service to activate your copy of Windows. Don’t ask me about KMS now as I won’t be helping you with that.

  25. Mid November 6, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    It works like a charm. Thanks!

  26. Jeff November 10, 2014 at 11:34 pm #

    Followed the instructions to the T. Created the file in /sources. When I go to install it still asks for the key. I got my copy of windows AND set it u[p on USB via this site http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media. Everything is matched in the file as you have yet cant seem to get it to work.

    • Narender Singh November 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

      Jeff, are you certain that the file has cfgas its extension? Because if you rename it when the file extensions are not set to visible, it will create a file of the name ei.cfg.txt which is not what we want. You can check file properties if it appears as a cfg file or a text document. If that doesn’t help, maybe the reason is something else and I might not have any idea about that :)

  27. Saif November 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Dear Narendra
    I read your Trick and decided to try once. but this trick not working for me! first of all I download successfully Window pro 8.1 version from official site of Microsoft http://www.techverse.net/download-windows-8-1-iso-images/ then I install directly but asking key. then I check ei.cfg file in window setup I not fund. I make ei.cfg file manually by your trick and copping into window source file but again asking key then I replace Retail to Oem and trying again but key option not skipping.
    please help me soon yr.

    Thanks

    • Narender Singh November 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

      Strange as that method already requires you to enter the Product Key before the download of ISO starts so why don’t you use the same key again? Anyways, are you sure that ei.cfg is created as a configuration file and not a txt file (check in file properties)? By default, Windows hides extensions and renaming known files will not change their extension.

  28. Saif November 16, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Dear Narendra
    if you have any another download link of window 8.1 pro please give me.
    thanks.

    • Narender Singh November 16, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      You can try looking at torrents. However, if the setup does load fine, it shouldn’t cause any problems later on except if it was downloaded using a Windows 8 enterprise key.

  29. Clouds November 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Hello Narender!

    Many thanks for providing such a good guide!

    However, I try to (re)install an OEM Version of Windows 8.1 (Core I guess?), but I keep getting the message after successfull installing Windows, to type in a Product Key (my Keyboard doesn*t work + Touchpad too; it*s an Tablet-PC)! I*ve already handled .cfg files like this one, but I*m asking, just in case, if this is all correct?

    [EditionID]
    Core
    [Channel]
    OEM
    [VL]
    0

    Thanks in advance!

    • Narender Singh November 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

      Seems good. As you manage to install it, don’t you get the option to enter the key at a later time? As this method only skips the key input during the setup, Windows should still prompt you for a product key.
      On the other hand, I’m not sure if OEM versions can be installed as a trial. If that is not possible, probably you are required to enter a key there. No on screen keyboard for you? :/

    • Clouds November 17, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

      Alright!

      I just solved 2 problems at once! Seems that I had to change [VL] 0 to 1! It skipped the message after the
      installation + my unrecognized Keyboard + Touchpanel, so I landed right away on the usual setup-process (Choose Color, name and stuff)!

      Regards

      Clouds

      • Narender Singh November 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

        I’m not sure as to why marking it as a Volume Licensing copy skips the product key input. It sometimes gets too confusing. Anyways, good to know that it just works out. Enjoy!

  30. faEQ November 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    TQ Sir. It’s works for me!!.

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