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.
  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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69 Responses to Install Windows 8.1 without a Product Key (Skip Key Input)

  1. Me mishra November 22, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Please tell me y my 8.1 version keep on prompting “windows licence expiring, update it from the settings”

    It says ACTIVATE it online. why ?/? dont want it.

    I want to get rid of it, pls help me to stop it.

    • Narender Singh November 22, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      You need to either activate it by entering a key or use some KMS.

  2. Branden Deckard November 30, 2014 at 12:22 am #

    Mine says (at setup) that “Something Happened. Windows could not validate the product key”

  3. Alex December 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    And how should i do it if i have all versions and even x86 and x64 ?! Thanks

    • Narender Singh December 10, 2014 at 12:42 am #

      For an AIO edition, the installation depends mostly on the product code. So, you’d be needed to enter it there and setup will install Windows relevant to that product code, unless the setup has been modified to list the various versions included on the disk.

  4. Tim December 15, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    Thanks bunches! Worked perfect

  5. subham December 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    What is the code for windows 8.1 pro with media center

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