[Fix] Windows 8 Genuine Product Key doesn’t Work for Windows 8.1 Clean Installation


Almost all of us know that Windows 8.1 is an update for Windows 8 operating system and Windows 8 users can upgrade to Windows 8.1 absolutely free through Windows Store. Other Windows version users need to buy a license of Windows 8.1.

[Guide] How to Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8, Windows 7, XP and Vista?

Since Windows 8.1 is called an update for Windows 8, its obvious that Windows 8 product key should work for Windows 8.1 too but that's not true!

When Windows 8.1 was under development, it was said that Windows 8.1 will accept Windows 8 product keys and Windows 8 users will be able to install Windows 8.1 using the same Windows 8 product key.

Now Windows 8.1 RTM has been released and people can download Windows 8.1 ISO files for clean installation as described here but when they try to install Windows 8.1 and it asks to enter a valid product key, the entered Windows 8 product key doesn't work. Even if its a genuine Windows 8 product key, you get incorrect or invalid product key error message.

The reason is unknown but it seems Microsoft did it intentionally. Microsoft didn't want to release offline ISO files of Windows 8.1 to Windows 8 users, that's why they programmed it to not accept Windows 8 product keys at the time of installation. Microsoft wants you to update Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 through Windows Store which doesn't ask any product key as its just upgrading the OS and not performing a clean installation.

Although there are workarounds available for this particular problem. The best workaround is that install Windows 8.1 using a generic product key. Some of you may ask what is a generic product key? Generic product keys can be considered as a dummy key which can be used to install an operating system but it can't be used to activate the OS. These generic keys are legally distributed by Microsoft and you can find such keys on Microsoft website as well as inside Windows setup folder.

You can get a generic product key for Windows 8.1 from following official Microsoft page:

KMS Client Setup Keys for Windows Operating System

Now you can enter this generic key in Windows 8.1 installation wizard and it'll accept the product key without any problem.

Once Windows is installed in your computer, you can activate your Windows using your own genuine Windows 8 product key by going to System Properties and clicking on change product key option. Although this product key didn't work at the installation time but it'll work at activation time. Windows will activate successfully with the help of your Windows 8 genuine product key. Thus you can install Windows 8.1 using your Windows 8 product key...

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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 8 / 8.1

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