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

  1. Anjan Das May 19, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    I have a lenovo b40-45 laptop, it has UEFI bios, i am trying to install win 8.1 but its not installing. How can i get a UEFI compatible Win 8.1

  2. David May 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    What do i enter after [EditionID] if I have a version of windows 8.1. not Professional?

    • Narender Singh May 19, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

      From the official documentation – {Edition ID} must be a valid Windows edition ID, for example, “Enterprise”. To obtain the current EditionID, use the Dism /Get-ImageInfo command or the Dism /Get-CurrentEdition command.

      • Narender Singh May 19, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

        Also, you can leave the EDITIONID blank for Windows to prompt which edition you want to install.

        • Jacob July 11, 2015 at 9:24 am #

          Actually it just gives you the pre release.

          • Jacob July 11, 2015 at 9:42 am #


        • Bhavesh November 12, 2015 at 6:06 am #

          I have a dell tablet with product key embedded on motherboard and i dont have product key with me how can i do clean installation of Windows 8.1… Tel me a way where it automatically takes the prudct key and it was preshipped with genuine windows copy of 8.1… Reply

          • Narender Singh November 12, 2015 at 8:44 am #

            So what actually happened to it? If 8.1 is still there, you can just reset it to the original state.
            I’m not entirely sure, but I believe in your case you need to do nothing besides simply processing with Windows installation using a freshly downloaded ISO (as long as it is the same edition as the one that came pre-installed). The key will be picked up from motherboard automatically.

    • bwp December 21, 2015 at 2:06 am #

      Instead of [Professional] use [Core]

      It will look like this:


  3. Chrish Singh June 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    While i am going to install window 8.1 in the instalation it asking the product key and after entering the product key the massege coming that your window licence term arangement is not valid so you have to reinstall the setup so plese slove my problem imediately
    it,s window ( WindowsBlue-ClientwithApps-32bit-English-X1899604) window 8.1 provide me key also

  4. Azhar June 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    I use this method but err came “the product. Key interest does not match any of the widows image available for installation. Enter a different product key

    • Narender Singh June 16, 2015 at 10:27 pm #

      Please edit the file to include your edition of Windows.

  5. Ezra Dube June 23, 2015 at 5:04 am #

    i’ve created a new text document but it won’t fit on the disc

    • Narender Singh June 23, 2015 at 9:05 am #

      You cannot write new files to a disk. You should either choose USB installation or edit the ISO to include the ei.cfg file and then burn it to DVD.

      • josh July 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

        i have done what you said on the flash disk but it is still requesting product key

        • Narender Singh July 1, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

          Are you sure you saved the file as cfg file and not a text file? Check the file properties again.

          • bnx September 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

            i am having the same problem.

            how to change the text file to cfg file?

            i renamed the text file as suggested above but upon looking at properties it is still a text file. :(

            • Narender Singh September 21, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

              You need to set Windows to show file extensions and then remove the .txt part.

  6. sumit July 3, 2015 at 4:52 am #

    no ei.cfg file in entire USB

    • Narender Singh July 3, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

      As said, you gotta create it if it doesn’t already exist.

  7. jansi July 3, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    please anybody send me windows8.1 pro product key

    • Narender Singh July 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

      And why would somebody share his product key with you?

    • lord_fennec October 2, 2015 at 5:15 am #

      THANK YOU!!!!!

  8. nidheesh July 5, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    bro i need windows8.1product key plz help me

    • Narender Singh July 5, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

      You need to purchase one, buddy.

  9. YottaFlops July 10, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    Hye buddy..
    It works! Thanks a lot!

    Time to try windows 8.1.. 😉

  10. Akhil Gupta July 13, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    while saving the ei.cfg file make sure that you save it in any file format rather then .txt. Otherwise it will not work.

    • Krisant Mahasetha September 3, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

      Hello Akhil. Them which format will work for it?

  11. vince July 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm #


    It doesn’t ask me key anymore but it says key error :(

  12. Brian July 31, 2015 at 6:33 am #

    I get an error that says there is a problem verifying product key. I know you say we are suppose to put in our version. But you don’t tell us what it should look like. For instance I’m going to use home. How is it suppose to be written? you could have given us a list to help.

  13. scheppy August 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    anyone know how to adapt it for windows home?


    This config doesn’t seem to work

    • Narender Singh August 7, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      That seems like the right config. Probably your ISO image does not include the HOME edition and hence it doesn’t pick it up. You should check what all editions your ISO comes bundled with.

    • Narender Singh August 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      Seems I was wrong and I apologize for that. Windows 7 was going on in my head. So in Windows 8, the basic edition should be called CORE instead of Home. Do try that out.

  14. Scheppy August 8, 2015 at 2:33 am #

    Thanks! this one worked 😉


  15. Amped August 8, 2015 at 2:49 am #

    Worked like a friggin charm! I couldn’t place the file in the .iso image so I copied and pasted all of the files of the image into a folder on my desktop and then created the file and ran setup from that same folder. I used the free Daemon Tools Lite imaging software to accomplish this, which allowed me to mount the image and see all files on the .iso file. Like the good sir Narender Singh said in the comments above, make sure when you save the file that you are indeed saving it as a .cfg file not a .cfg.txt. To accomplish this (for Windows 8.1) open ‘File Explorer’ and click options at the top left on the menu bar (you might have to hit a little arrow to see this menu) then select ‘File Options’. Click on the ‘View’ tab and uncheck the box next to ‘Hide extensions for known file types’ then press ‘Apply’ at the bottom. Now go back to your original ei.cfg file you created and see if it shows up as ‘ei.cfg’ or ‘ei.cfg.txt’. If it shows up as the second one, right click the file and click ‘rename’ and delete the ‘.txt’. portion. Now run setup again and it should actually work.

  16. Jared September 10, 2015 at 2:30 am #

    What do I put in the EditionID for Pro N?

  17. Zeeshan Dhillon September 23, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    Thank you dude, it realy work. :)

  18. janty September 25, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    bro what about window 8.1 pro

    • Narender Singh September 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      This is for Pro edition only :)

  19. TeeJay October 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    hie, i followed the above steps but got an error “setup could not validate product key”. if i delete the ei.cfg file the error does not apper but we come back to “enter product key”. what can i do?

  20. varun October 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    i have lenovo pc i dosn’t install window 8.1 because i dont have product key where search product key in dvd please tell me the file name

    • Narender Singh October 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

      You cannot find Product key in the DVD. Purchase it from the Microsoft Store instead.

  21. Gurtha October 10, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

    Does this method work for windows 10 as well?

    • Narender Singh October 11, 2015 at 11:47 am #

      It should work, but I think Windows 10 lets you skip key input even without the need of this.

  22. ANURAG October 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm #


    • Narender Singh October 17, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

      You need to have a valid product key to activate Windows.

  23. Sphiwe October 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    Where can i get those key for windows 8.1 i wanna activate my leptop please help me

    • Narender Singh October 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

      You need to purchase the key. There are certainly some illegal ways, but won’t talk about them over here.

  24. Saurabh November 2, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    I have purchased sony vaio laptop 1 year ago now I am updating the updates of windows 8 after installing updates it asks for product key while purchasing the laptop the windows is preinstalled please help

  25. tanay911 November 3, 2015 at 2:08 am #

    guys anyone who needs a product key go find a software called kms pico trust me it will automatically activates it.

  26. john November 21, 2015 at 6:02 am #

    i did the step and the the place that the product key should be inputted does not appear but the problem is there is a massage says that “Something Happened setup has failed to validate the product key.” what should i do?

    • Narender Singh November 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      Are you running the setup from a USB or DVD? Or are you launching it from within Windows? Do you have any idea what variant of Windows does your ISO contain?

  27. NewToPC's December 12, 2015 at 2:15 am #

    Hey! At first it just asked for the key when i tried this, i found out it has to be a .cfg file, so i made it one. Now it just says the key is not correct for the product orso. I tried pretty much every editionid there is out there for windows 8.1, none of them worked. I figured out that maybe i have selected the wrong edition while installing it to my usb stick. Do you think that could be the problem here? Though i already formated the usb stick and starting to install it all over again. Great guide anyways!

  28. Parteek January 8, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    I HAVE TRIED THIS BUT A POP-UP WINDOW COMES SAYING THAT THE PRODUCT KEY YOU ENTERED DOES NOT MATCH ANY OF THEWINDOWS IMAGES AVAILABLE FOR ISTALLATION. ENTER A DIFFERENT PRODUCT KEY….please help me solve this..i dont have any windows installed on my laptop.previous got corrupted.please help..

    • Narender Singh January 8, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

      Did the laptop come with Windows pre-installed? Where did you download Windows from? And what edition it is?

      • parteek January 8, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

        No.. .laptop was dos.. My friend downloaded windows from somewhere. It was 8.1.. Actually My problem with product key Skipping is solved with this tutorial of yours but now a new problem comes in front of me. is of partition type.. My disk was partitioned according to windows is not installing.. I have very important data in my disk drives.. But i cant copy it because windows is not loading.. So please help me solve this problem so that i can save my data and iNstall wIndows..

        • Narender Singh January 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

          You can use Command Prompt to copy over data from one drive to the other. Doing some basic search on the directory listing and copy commands will be enough for you.
          You can also try using the Load Drivers (or something similar) option on the Disk Partitions page of the Windows Setup. That will open a basic explorer which can be used to browse around and do the required tasks. No progress bar is shown there (and the Window will freeze till the task finishes) and hence you just need to patiently wait till the copy process finishes.
          You can also try one of Ubuntu Live images which can be booted from USB or a DVD and can be used to access and manage file system.

          Now all depends on the way you’d wanna do the backup. For me, Command Prompt is the easiest when I know where the data is saved.

  29. Radhey February 2, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    I’m trying to skip the product key step but it always say setup failed to validate the key , I’ve downloaded windows 8.1 ISO single language English from Microsoft official website but unable to skip this step.

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