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  • Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

    I was recently handed a very nice Asus touchscreen laptop (i5, 16GB RAM, 2GB nVidia GPU, 32GB MMS, 750GB HDD & USB 3, not bad for AUD$900 ) that had been installed with Windows 8 so it came with the MS Product Key (or whatever they call the bloody thing now) preinstalled. The 25 character key is no longer hidden under the battery for safekeeping but is now hardcoded into the UEFI BIOS or so I am informed by tech support. So, if I have to reinstall the software, Windows 8, the Key is automatically detected and Windows will magically activate. Well so they say.

    Anyway, I get given this very nice laptop which the Owner had on my advice, Upgraded to Windows 8.1 using the MS bouncing ball method so nothing would go wrong. Imagine my surprise when I get physical possession of this delightful device and find that Windows 8.1 is NOT activated. Took me a while (actually it didn't but it reads better if it did) to activate the machine using methods that I should not have had to use.

    After that it still appeared to be running slow so a decided, in consultation with the owner, to take it back to Factory Default and start from scratch. I like Asus devices, I really do, but their Recovery process leaves a lot to be desired. I followed the recovery steps (after RTFM of course) only to find it was detecting Windows 8.1 and would not offer a Windows 8 Recovery option from its Recovery Partition. I do so hate them not offering physical Recover Media anymore. Have to contact Asus and see what the cost of the physical Recovery Media is.

    This is not a post to ask for a solution but rather to see if anyone else has had a similar issue. Curiosity value only. Thanks.
    1 1 was a racehorse.
    2 2 was 1 2.
    1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
    2 2 1 1 2

  • #2
    Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

    I had a not dissimilar issue with my Surface Pro (First Gen). I wanted to delete the recovery partition to save a bit of disk space as I have the 64gb version, but couldn't create recovery media as the partition was corrupt. I was planning a clean format anyway, so ended up using a USB DVD drive with MSDN media and activating with the key extracted from the BIOS.

    Don't know if it'll work on the ASUS, but there is a utility (that I can't remember the name of!) for getting the embedded product key out of the BIOS, and MSDN media will activate OK with the MSDN key. If you have access to MSDN, I'd use this method and then create a USB recovery disk directly within Windows as it'll almost certainly be easier than dealing with ASUS.
    BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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    Cruachan's Blog

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    • #3
      Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

      Originally posted by cruachan View Post
      I had a not dissimilar issue with my Surface Pro (First Gen). I wanted to delete the recovery partition to save a bit of disk space as I have the 64gb version, but couldn't create recovery media as the partition was corrupt. I was planning a clean format anyway, so ended up using a USB DVD drive with MSDN media and activating with the key extracted from the BIOS.

      Don't know if it'll work on the ASUS, but there is a utility (that I can't remember the name of!) for getting the embedded product key out of the BIOS, and MSDN media will activate OK with the MSDN key. If you have access to MSDN, I'd use this method and then create a USB recovery disk directly within Windows as it'll almost certainly be easier than dealing with ASUS.


      Sorry a bit off topic but you can download a Surface Pro recovery direct from MS. I had to do this for ours as we removed the recovery partition when we imaged them using our SOE.

      http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-...erecoveryimage

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      • #4
        Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

        Originally posted by wullieb1 View Post


        Sorry a bit off topic but you can download a Surface Pro recovery direct from MS. I had to do this for ours as we removed the recovery partition when we imaged them using our SOE.

        http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-...erecoveryimage
        Cheers for that, I'll try downloading it. Couldn't find it previously, but Microsoft's UK site is pretty poor.

        BTW (and back on topic!) RW Everything was the utility I used for reading the product key out of the BIOS.
        BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
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        Cruachan's Blog

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        • #5
          Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

          Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
          I was recently handed a very nice Asus touchscreen laptop (i5, 16GB RAM, 2GB nVidia GPU, 32GB MMS, 750GB HDD & USB 3, not bad for AUD$900 ) that had been installed with Windows 8 so it came with the MS Product Key (or whatever they call the bloody thing now) preinstalled. The 25 character key is no longer hidden under the battery for safekeeping but is now hardcoded into the UEFI BIOS or so I am informed by tech support. So, if I have to reinstall the software, Windows 8, the Key is automatically detected and Windows will magically activate. Well so they say.

          Anyway, I get given this very nice laptop which the Owner had on my advice, Upgraded to Windows 8.1 using the MS bouncing ball method so nothing would go wrong. Imagine my surprise when I get physical possession of this delightful device and find that Windows 8.1 is NOT activated. Took me a while (actually it didn't but it reads better if it did) to activate the machine using methods that I should not have had to use.

          After that it still appeared to be running slow so a decided, in consultation with the owner, to take it back to Factory Default and start from scratch. I like Asus devices, I really do, but their Recovery process leaves a lot to be desired. I followed the recovery steps (after RTFM of course) only to find it was detecting Windows 8.1 and would not offer a Windows 8 Recovery option from its Recovery Partition. I do so hate them not offering physical Recover Media anymore. Have to contact Asus and see what the cost of the physical Recovery Media is.

          This is not a post to ask for a solution but rather to see if anyone else has had a similar issue. Curiosity value only. Thanks.
          Heres a couple of methods that may help recovery the key then you can use it to download a recovery from MS.

          http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-re...key-from-bios/

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          • #6
            Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

            Originally posted by cruachan View Post
            Cheers for that, I'll try downloading it. Couldn't find it previously, but Microsoft's UK site is pretty poor.

            BTW (and back on topic!) RW Everything was the utility I used for reading the product key out of the BIOS.
            No problem. It took me somewhere around 12 hours because it was that bloody slow.

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            • #7
              Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

              Sorry off on another tangent.

              Biggles once you have the key and an image to install, get it done then follow the steps here to create your own recovery image

              http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials...ery-image.html

              If you really wanted to you could install everything including apps and updates then create the image. Copy the create WIM file to a USB install disk for Windows 8/8.1 and replace Install.wim and you now have a backup.

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              • #8
                Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

                WOW, Thanks guys. Really wasn't expecting anything as exceptionally helpful like this. I had previously been using ImageX to restore WIM images but that was when Windows 7 keys were still available on brand name machines. On my older Win 7 Lenovo devices, Q: drive usually held the recovery WIM so it was real easy to copy the file and use ImageX (or was it GImageX ) and 20 minutes later all done. Or, do a Factory Restore, install all the updates and applications and then suck a WIM image off it.

                When Windows 8 came out I had colleagues far smarter than me having issues with ImageX and DISM stared being used. Only used DISM a couple of times because 99.5% of the laptops I serviced were Windows 7, 0.4% were MacBooks and 0.1% Windows 8. Windows 8.1 was just being rolled out when I took a hi 8 us and am only now coming up against Windows 8/8.1 and reimaging. I could have possibly removed the HDD in this case and "found" the WIM file and restore manually but didn't want to cause any possible warranty issues as the laptop lives about 900km away from me and trying to tell the store the device was purchased from that I really do know what I am doing (sort of) wasn't going to be easy. I also had a limited time frame and as this was a first for me I opted for the easy way out.

                I have just had a look and noticed there is an updated version of GImageX that doesn't appear to have the previous Win8 issues but I wonder since it is just a GUI for Microsoft's cli ImageX. Will have to try it out on the old Acer and see if it works with my previous bootable USB flash drive setup. (Will give me something to do instead of watching pr0n, err I mean tutorials - damn, either way it sounds bad).

                Cruachan, THANK YOU for RWEverything. I wish I could send you a nice single malt for that tool. Will try that on my daughter's machine tomorrow as it came with Win8 and I downgraded it to Win7. It was her choice with very little input from me and she has the IT degree!

                Originally posted by Wullie
                Sorry a bit off topic but you can download a Surface Pro recovery direct from MS. I had to do this for ours as we removed the recovery partition when we imaged them using our SOE.

                http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-...erecoveryimage
                Interesting that the USB has to be formatted to FAT32. Have they broken the recovery files down to below 4GB in size? Fat32 on a 16GB USB (almost seems sacrilegious to me) for the Surface Pro recovery image invites even more intrigue. Do you remember how the recovery files were divided up Wullie? Just curious as I would really like to get a Surface Pro once the Powerball win happens.

                Been meaning to get round to creating the Recovery USB for a while but I need to script it so it happens automagically when you boot from the USB. Just got to do some reading and figure it out. Used to have it working on Ghost but I want to be able to set it up for relatives to cut down on the free helpdesk calls I get and Ghost ain't freeware (yet) so I still can't use that for non personal recoveries.

                Wullie I would offer you a nice single malt as well but you just might hop on a Jetstar flight and come to collect.

                Just had a quick read about Lazesoft Recover My Password and Windows Key as it seems to indicate it will recover the Key from the UEFI if using the bootable Lazesoft Recovery tool. Of course at this time of the night/morning I may be doing my usual reading it wrong trick. If this thing works, it will be a handy tool to have for the non work reimage. WDS and KMS makes that oh so much easier in a production environment.

                Again, THANKS to the both of you for providing very useful feedback that I really wasn't expecting.
                1 1 was a racehorse.
                2 2 was 1 2.
                1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                2 2 1 1 2

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                • #9
                  Re: Windows 8 to Win 8.1 Upgrade Key Issue

                  The image files are split into separate files:

                  Install.swm, Install2.swm and Install3.swm first two are around the 3GB mark and the last one is 1.3GB.

                  The swm format is a split WIM file.

                  I have a script that cleans up that removes all the crap, Windows Updates from the system prior to running the backup.

                  This does the cleanup

                  Code:
                  Dism.exe /online /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup /ResetBase
                  This does the recovery image

                  Code:
                  recimg -CreateImage c:\RefreshImage
                  Please note that you need to have the RefreshImage folder created prior to running this. I just edited the WIM file and added the folder structure i wanted to the image.

                  If a user wants to update the image, say monthly, then all they need is the script.

                  I'm doing this via MDT but i would image it would be easy enough to replicate for a standalone system.

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