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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34 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!

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