How To Skip Product Key When Installing Windows 8

One of the things I quite miss the old way in Windows 7 is to skip the product key input during the installation. I believe there are reasons why Microsoft has put a stop sign on this but there are also valid situations where skipping a product key during the installation also makes sense.

Basically, you will need to extract the files from Windows 8 ISO file, add a file named ei.cfg in sources folder, with the following content, and re-wrap up the ISO file.


Edition ID can be Core, Pro, or Enterprise, depending on the ISO image file you have. And Channel can be Retail or OEM, while VL can be set to 1 for true or 0 for false.

But I found it will be a lot easier if you have created the bootable USB drive, since you can create and edit the ei.cfg file directly into the USB file system.

Once you have the media ready, you can boot off it to start the installation process again. All steps are the same, until you reach to the point where you put in the product key. Now, you will see there is a Skip button you used to see all the time back to Windows 7 time. Clicking that will lead you to finish up the installation without typing in a valid product key.

Windows 8 Skip Product Key

Sorry, couldn’t take a clearer shot but you get the idea.

While skipping a product key during the installation is nice, it won’t get you too far as it used to be. You will need your windows 8 activated before customizing your Windows, i.e. PC Settings.

Go to System window (type “system” in start screen), you will notice the message indicating that Windows is not activated at near the bottom of the window.

Windows 8 is not activated

To activate, you can click the link “View details in Windows Activation”.

Windows 8 Activation Window

Note that the error code under Activation details section indicates that you don’t have a valid product key to activate your Windows 8 at the moment.

Click on Activate with a new key button, and that’s where you will see the following screen we mentioned in our early post how to change product key and activate windows 8.

Windows 8 Activate Window

Related posts:

  1. How To Change Windows 8 Product Key To Complete Activation
  2. How To Retrieve Windows 8 OEM Product Key From BIOS
  3. Installing Windows 8 in A Virtual Environment with VMware Player
  4. Disable Unwanted Windows 8 Feature With Skip Metro Suite
  5. Installing Windows 8 in A Virtual Environment With Oracle VirtualBox
  • Quality Assurance

    what is VL to set to?

    • Kent Chen

      Set to 0 (a number zero). :)

  • Ramesh Kumar

    Set [VL] to 1 and It will stop the OOBE from showing the key input screen as shown above. :) The post has been updated.

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  • eshwar

    Hi im newbie here, how to create ei.cfg file?

    • windows7hacker

      right click > new > file

  • shamu726

    how to create bootable iso once ei.cfg is added?

  • NathanOTWeb

    This method does not work with Window 8 Pro. I keep getting a message that the key provided (which I haven’t yet) is not compatible with this version of Windows.

    • Nathan

      Further research reveals “Pro” is incorrect. It needs to be “Professional”

    • Terror

      use another version pro may take some time don’t follow the name pro i see no major difference from the other versions.

  • Will

    Thank you Kent… Saved my computer!

  • Terror

    dude thank youuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!

  • Dionisius

    Thank you very much sir, you are very helpfull

  • guy

    Thanks, It works.

    I set VL to 1 and it automatically skipped the product key screen.

    “Pro” did not worked, so I used “core” instead.

    Maybe I sould have used “Professional” – Next time ill check…

    • gursimran key error solved 100%%%%%%%%%%%%

  • Andrew

    Thank you, tons!

  • Palmer

    Why am I unable to find the ei.cfg file with the OEM version?

    • iman

      there’s no such file, u should create it yourself.

  • iman

    actually it only works for CORE edition, i changed it’s value to PRO and it didn’t work. i dunno the reason or anything :D


  • Yőůşēf ÄĝĦbãr

    i cant understand plz explain more !! :(

  • Romario

    Thank you so much
    It actually helps if you have only retail Windows 8 and OEM key in the bios

  • ArchaicKode

    This is for Windows 8.1 Professional . :)

  • Zeshi Meher

    hi i have a problem if i use it on original 8.1 iso its worked


    but i capture a image install.wim when i use this ei.cfg it didnt work please help me

    • gursimran key error solved 100%%%%%%%4