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

  1. Suresh April 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    I have all editions of windows 8.1 in ISO. So how to create ie.cfg file for that? By the way I want to install pro edition.

    • Niels April 25, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

      Simple, you can’t. This is for one version only. Better get some VLKs ready.

    • Nikhil September 2, 2016 at 10:35 am #

      Here if you get the selection first select the os in which you hve done configurations for product key escape If not let me i will be giving you a direct link for pre activated windows 8.1 pro ohk?

  2. Untonym May 1, 2016 at 8:05 am #


  3. satheessh May 19, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

    when i”m trying it shows

    can’t write cd image file

  4. PHYLLIS M TWENTYMAN May 21, 2016 at 5:25 am #

    i tried it and it says the key i entered doesnt match

    • Narender Singh May 21, 2016 at 11:00 am #

      Your version of Windows is probably not the Pro one. Please edit the file to match the Windows version of your ISO.

  5. whiteny June 6, 2016 at 7:06 am #

    this is nice

  6. Jose Sanchez June 28, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

    For those getting the key entered does not match. A simple way to fix that and make it more universal is to leave the space after Edition ID blank.


    • gaurav July 4, 2016 at 12:41 am #

      it says windows cannot find the microsoft software licence terms. what to do now?

      • Hihihi October 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

        You don’t fill it blank but write there a seriaL key and then save the fiLe to usb now boot and install that windows again and when it will ask you for a seriaL key enter the serial key which you enterted in the blank space. Get a simple serial key from net for windows 8.1 pro or other edition

  7. Mike July 2, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    Whenever I try to run the setup it says Setup Has Failed To Determine Supported Install Choices. I downloaded WIn 8.1 pro and used the code.

  8. Paul July 14, 2016 at 1:50 am #

    cause it only worked once. Then patched.

    • Narender Singh July 15, 2016 at 12:13 am #

      Patched? This is an officially supported method, not a hack or something. It should always work.

  9. ahmed July 20, 2016 at 8:53 pm #



  10. Genghis July 22, 2016 at 7:35 am #

    Works fine, thanks. People having problems are probably changing the file name but not the extension

  11. Avesh August 25, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    I did the same thing to install my windows 8.1 version of windows by leaving edition Id space blank but its again and again telling setup has failed to validate the product key so please do the need full

  12. vaichius August 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    worked, thanks.

    i downloaded win 8.1 pro into my usb flash from microsoft febsite, created this file, and when i retried the installation it skipped the key part.

  13. Nikhil September 2, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    Does this procedure works sane with mac os X??

  14. Anonymous September 27, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    For people having multiple Windows 8.1 editions in one ISO, do it like this:

    Enterprise / Professional / Core

    *Notes: 1) Put *space* before and after the forward slashes.
    Example: Enterprise*space*/*space*Professional*space*/*space*Core.

    2) Make sure to rename the file as ei.cfg not .txt in notepad and select the file type to “All” not “Text Documents”.

    3) Paste the file to the *sources* folder of your Windows 8.1 boot disk or USB drive

  15. Secure - India September 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    I tried, it says Setup has failed to validate the product key

    • Narender Singh September 28, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

      Did you actually save the file as a cfg instead of txt?

  16. akash sonkar October 5, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    I have window 8.1 setup pls give me any product key to activate Windows

  17. sagar October 17, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

    hats off you saved my time and money have been searching various blogs for product keys but any of the keys didnt work.
    God bless you !!!

    • Narender Singh October 18, 2016 at 12:35 am #

      You actually still need to activate Windows to access the full features. It just skips the requirement during setup 🙂

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