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. (click here to follow step-by-step how to modify ISO file)

[EditionID]
Core
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Edition ID can be Core, Professional, 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

/updated on Aug. 11, 2014/

If you have a valid product key for the edition windows you are using, you can add it in the PID.txt file in the \source folder to skip the product key entry step all together.

[PID]
Value=XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

You can reuse the product key in the product ID file for multiple installations. The product key in the product ID file is only used to install Windows. This key is not used to activate Windows.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 12/08/2014

Posted in: Tips & Tricks , Windows 8
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Andrew
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Andrew
3 years 15 days ago

Thank you, tons!

Palmer
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Palmer
2 years 10 months ago

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

iman
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iman
2 years 10 months ago

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

iman
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iman
2 years 10 months ago

thanks,
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 😀

Cheers

Yőůşēf ÄĝĦbãr
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Yőůşēf ÄĝĦbãr
2 years 8 months ago

i cant understand plz explain more !! 🙁

Romario
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Romario
2 years 8 months ago

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

ArchaicKode
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ArchaicKode
2 years 7 months ago

[EditionID]
Professional
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0
This is for Windows 8.1 Professional . 🙂

Zeshi Meher
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Zeshi Meher
2 years 6 months ago

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

[EditionID]
Professional
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

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

gursimran
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gursimran
2 years 5 months ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWGsAmTfb90product key error solved 100%%%%%%%4

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