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

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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  • Hi there, I’m using a copy off a8.1 in 64bit . I dont know the key of it …how i shall overcome to the validation process..

    • Hey Sam, you will need to purchase a license key to activate Windows. You can use some KMS programs to activate and rearm Windows, but I’d rather not talk piracy here. You should purchase a key!

      • Just type Windows 8.1 phone activation textuploader on Google . You will see a lot of nice results. I woudn’t give money for a key 🙂

  • I cant seem to be able to edit the .ios file. Please can someone link me a place where i can download the “cracked”/”edited” Windows 8 installer please? <3

    • Do you plan to install Windows using a DVD or will you be using a USB drive? If it is USB, then you can simply make a bootable USB and then create the ei.cfg file. If you’ll be using the DVD then you can use a tool such as MagicISO or WinISO to edit the ISO first and then create a bootable DVD.
      Please understand that this is not a crack and you will still be needed to activate Windows after completing the installation. Otherwise, some Windows features might not work.

    • Ah, Walter. This should work for everybody because it is only skipping the product key part at the time of setup. You will still be needed to activate Windows later to enjoy the full functionality. So, I have no reason for it to not work for you. Any error message that it shows?

  • I’m trying ti install Windows 8.1 would like to know how the ei.cfg file should be edited.
    If someone could just upload the format that that would be awsome, as I am not clear on that. Thanks in advance.

    • It is a simple text file. Avoid using any word processing programs and consider using editors such as Notepad or Notepad ++. Place text exactly how it is mentioned in the article 🙂

      • I used notepad ++ created the file and tried to install and I got an error message that the production key doesn’t match the version of the installation

      • Hey Narender I’m installing windows 8.1 not the pro version on a Dell lattitude 10. Show me the exact file format and that will help.
        I think that each format should be posted. Been going through the comments and it’s clear that everyone is having the same problem. Post me the format for 8.1 version if you may. Not the pro version

      • I know for certain that this format works for Windows 8.1apro.
        [EditionID]
        Professional
        [Channel]
        Retail
        [VL]
        0

        But it does not for 8.1 post exactly how it should be edited for 8.1 and ill get it done, thanks.

        • You would replace Professional with Core if you are installing the basic version of Windows 8.1. Sorry about the delayed reply, though. I had some errands which didn’t allow me to check the comments here 🙂

  • please help me. a pop up shows and says:
    The computer started using the windows installation media. remove the installation media and restart your computer so that windows starts normally. then, insert the installation media and restart the upgrade. (do not select “custom (advanced)” to perform an upgrade. “Custom (Advanced)” installs a new copy of windows and deletes your programs and settings.)
    what to do? help me please :'(

    • It’s hard to guess from the message, but I’ll try to. So are you trying to upgrade from an earlier version of Windows but have booted via the installation media? If so, that won’t work. If you boot via the installation media, you can only perform a clean install. To upgrade, you need to boot into Windows normally and insert the installation media (or mount the ISO) and then run setup. On the next screens, you choose upgrade and you’re good to go 🙂

  • 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 !!!

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

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

    [EditionID]
    Enterprise / Professional / Core
    [Channel]
    Retail
    [VL]
    0

    *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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.
    I.E
    [EditionID]

    [Channel]
    Retail/OEM
    [VL]
    0

      • 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

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

  • 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.

      • you are wrong Niels. I made this kind of EI.CFG file and I can select either the Core/Home or Pro edition of Win8.1 during setup with a Win8.1 ISO image I downloaded directly from MS that had both Home & Pro editions on there:

        [Channel]
        OEM
        Retail
        [VL]
        0

        Just do not include the [EditionID] section and any “edition ID” on there in the EI.CFG file and store that file in the \Sources\ folder and either burn the modified Win8.1 image to DVD or create a bootable USB installation media using the RUFUS usb tool.

    • 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?
      😀

  • 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.

  • 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..

      • 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. ..it is of partition type.. My disk was partitioned according to mbr..so 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..

        • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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?

    • 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?

  • 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

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