How To Change Windows 8 Product Key To Complete Activation


Windows 8, the official version that will be launching this October 26th, is now available for download if you are a TechNet or MSDN subscriber. Even if you are not,  you can still go ahead and download the official 90-day trial version of Windows 8. That’s long enough to cover until the official Windows 8 release.

While I was downloading and installing Windows 8, one thing I found that was missing, at least to me, was the activation dialogue. I installed the Windows 8 Enterprise Edition, and apparently the install wizard never asked me for the activation key. I suppose this might be the fact that I was installing Windows 8 Enterprise edition rather than the regular Windows 8. Usually enterprise editions are meant for volume installation and activation in corporation and large organizations.  Unfortunately, my TechNet subscription doesn’t offer Windows 8 Pro edition, so I grabbed the enterprise edition. (by the way, if you are confused between Windows 8 editions, be sure to get to know all the Windows 8 editions before purchasing your upgrade)

No activation is fine and ok for me, until I wanted to change my Start screen’s background.

Under the PC Settings > Personalize. It says “You need to activate Windows before you can personalize your PC.” So that leaves me no choice but to activate.

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But …

After poking around all the possible place, I just couldn’t find a UI that allows me to change or even enter my activation key. It seems like a time for a “hack” for it.

Firstly, you need to go to the Start screen type “cmd” and right click. Make sure you choose run as “Administrator” from the bottom options.

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Once the command prompt is launched with local admin privilege, run the following command to enter your activation key.

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You will get a confirmation for the product key that you have entered.

Then, run the following script to activate the product key

slmgr.vbs -ato

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Finally, you will get a confirmation on product activated successfully.

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Now all you need to do is to restart your Windows 8.

[Update Aug 18, 2012]

There is actually a much easier way of doing the activation in Windows 8, thanks to W7H reader Daniel for pointing it out in the comment.

Just open a Command Prompt (Admin) window, and fire up the following command:

slui 3

CMD slui command thumb - How To Change Windows 8 Product Key To Complete Activation

And this window pops up, now you can put in your Windows 8 product key and go active it. This also seems to work when you have a new product key that you want to activate.

Windows 8 Activate Window thumb - How To Change Windows 8 Product Key To Complete Activation


  1. So, just to clarify for the slow guy, does this mean I can install a trial version now, buy the product key when available and then just fully activate my installation?

    • actually, you bought a good point. according to Microsoft ”
      The evaluation edition will expire and cannot be upgraded.
      To upgrade, the evaluation must be uninstalled and a non-evaluation version of Windows must be re-installed from your original installation media. ” To answer your question, no you can’t just buy the product key and activate your system when it releases.

  2. hello it says 0xC0000022 on a computer running microsoft windows none – core edition, run ‘slui.exe 0x2a 0xC0000022’ to display the error text
    please help me with this one

  3. error description : the software licensing reported that the product could not be activated. no key management service could be contacted. Help me plss. i can’t activate it.

  4. Thanks a lot…. I just installed the enterprise edition and I was able to change the production key and activate at once using the “slmgr.vbs -ipk” command…. as soon as I executed the command, the activation notice on bottom right corner disappeared, and under System it shows windows as “Activated”.

  5. looks like it worked for me…but still in desktop it says as “Evalution Copy Build 8400”. How to activate it permanently.

  6. hi there all, im a newbie to this and need some help. I won a laptop playing poker and it has a bootleg version of win7. I wanted the real version so i purchase a legit key. I have been reading on how to install (the slui 3 does not work, keeps saying i dont have permissions) i want to try the slmgr.vbs -ipk. My question is will i lose all my applications, programs, files etc by simply changing the key ? thanks for any help

  7. hi, how can i change the “let apps use my location” in PC settings from command prompt.. or at least go to PC settings page from cmd prompt

  8. When i activate my windows after command “slui 3” i get an error: 0x8007007b

    and says the file name, directory name or volume label syntax is incorrect…

    Kindly tell me the meaning of that…and what i should i do now…???
    I have activated my windows too before this and it says windows is activated in the computer properties from another uploader but i can not change the desktop background etc…I didnt understand what is happening with my machine…

  9. Or you can click Start, type Winodws Activation and click on the resultant search result. Click change product key, enter key, done. Not that hard really.

  10. Mine says Error:0x8004F80B On a computer running Microsoft Windows non-core edition, run ‘slui.exe 0x2a 0x8004F80B’ to display the error text HELP!!!!!!!!

      • Alex, indians never care about real-spend money act…. they are too much in population even cockroaches come second to them. MS is now running out of license keys available for activation they only created one bn keys but they out numbered MS with 2bn (hidden talent at nights)

  11. You are the bomb. I’m a sysadmin that generally works in the Linux / Mac OS X world, and was forced to install Win 8 in a VM for troubleshooting user problems. Oh man how does one release a major OS without having a clear-cut way to activate?

    Regardless, after sifting through 500 pounds of bad/mis-information, I found this post and it worked most excellently. Cheers.


  13. Awesome! This worked perfectly for a volume Windows 8 Pro activation!

    1. Right click bottom left
    corner at Start, select Command Prompt (Admin)

    2. In cmd type: “slui 3”

    3. Insert product key

    How come the activation is not easy like Windows 7 ? How come Windows 8 made it more difficult to change activation keycodes ???

  14. I work in the IT department for a major manufacturer. Just ran into this issue today updating from an Eval version of Windows 8 to an Enterprise version. I don’t undestand why Microsoft would hide something so essential as activating the copy of Windows you just bought. The slui 3 tip work perfectly. It brings up the old activation window I’m used to and allowed me to set my actual key.

    I have a few tips for some of the comments posted on this page.

    1. Open an Admin command prompt by right-clicking cmd.exe and choosing Run as Admin. Then use the slui 3 command. (There is a space between the slui and the #3)

    2. For error code 0x8004F80B due to ‘non-core’ I believe this only occurs from an upgrade install of Windows 8 and not a clean install. Try running this from a command prompt: sfc /scannow. Once completed see if you can use SLUI 3 to activate.
    3. STOP giving out bogus activation keys or asking for activation keys. If you legitimately purchased Windows 8 you will have a valid key provided with your install. Trying to take other’s activation keys or use one key on multiple systems is the same thing as pirating. (Unless you have an Enterprise multi user license which can be quite expensive) Go get a job!

  15. Friend, thank you for the support. It worked perfectly.
    a big hug from Brazil.
    Luiz Claudio – Sao Caetano do Sul

  16. Why the F is this so difficult? Am I the only one who thinks win 8 is an effin DISASTER? I am CIO of my company and I will NEVER deploy this POS.

  17. Easier….

    Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. Or, if you are using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.
    In the search box, type Slui.exe 0x3.
    Tap or click the Slui.exe 0x3 icon.
    Type your product key in the Windows Activation window, and then click Activate.

  18. hello it says 0xC0000022 on a computer running microsoft windows none – core edition, run ‘slui.exe 0x2a 0xC0000022’ to display the error text
    please help me with this one

  19. error code: 0xc004e003
    errordescription: the software licensing sevice reported that license evaluation failed

    please help me with this one

  20. Error: 0xC004F074 The Software Licensing Service reported that the computer could not be activated. No Key Management Service (KMS) could be contacted. Please see the Application Event Log for additional information.

    You have a problem with activating.

  21. Win 8 Serials:








  22. OEM’s should have the product key somewhere on the back of the laptop or bottom of a desktop look around. You should be able to find one


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