Windows 8

Get the ISO you need to create your own Windows 8.1 DVD

Here is the complete procedure for downloading a Windows 8.1 ISO using a Windows 8 product key.

aa_intro.png
 Chances are good that you have been to the Windows Store recently and have seen the Windows 8.1 download screen, shown in Figure A. If you read Microsoft's detailed instructions and then downloaded the update, then you know that this operation performs what is essentially an in-place upgrade. In other words you download and run the update just like you would a Service Pack from Windows Update and there is no opportunity to download an ISO or order a DVD. If you have just one Windows 8 system, then this upgrade procedure is no problem at all. But what if you have two or more Windows 8 systems? Do you really want to sit and wait while the online update runs multiple times? I didn't think so.

Figure A

a_gs_11-8.png

The Windows 8.1 update is available from the Windows Store.

Well, fortunately some enterprising folks have discovered a way to trick the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site into allowing you to download a Windows 8.1 ISO using a Windows 8 product key. While this really cool trick has been published on multiple sites on the Web, not all of these sites give the full set of steps that you need to perform the operation. For instance, many of the sites direct you to the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site as the first step, but they do not mention that in order for this trick to work, to be prompted for the product key right away, you have to access the site from a computer running Windows 7.

So, in this article, I'll show you the complete procedure for downloading a Windows 8.1 ISO using a Windows 8 product key.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Note: Even though the end result of this trick is have a Windows 8.1 DVD, keep in mind that this DVD can only be used to perform a Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 upgrade. You cannot use it to perform a clean install of Windows 8.1.

What you'll need

Before you get started, you'll need to have access to several things. First you'll need your Windows 8 Product Key and it has to be from a retail version of the product. In other words, if you received a computer with Windows 8 preinstalled, then you have an OEM Product Key and you cannot use that type of key for this procedure.

So if you either purchased a Windows 8 DVD at your local computer store or downloaded Windows 8 from Microsoft, then you're all set to go.

As I mentioned, you'll need to perform this trick from a Windows 7 system. As you seek out a Windows 7 system to use, be sure that it is has the same processor type as you are using on the Windows 8 system that you want to upgrade to Windows 8.1. (By processor type, I mean 32-bit vs. 64-bit.) The reason for this is that the processor type in the system that you use to download Windows 8.1, will determine the version of Windows 8.1 that you'll end up with.

For example, if your Windows 8 system is running a 64-bit processor, then you'll want to use a Windows 7 system with a 64-bit processor. You'll then end up with a 64-bit version of Windows 8.1.

Still with me? Okay, then let's get started.

Getting started

Once you have located a proper Windows 7 system, fire up your Web browser of choice and point it to the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site. When you arrive, you'll find that the page contains links to download both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, as shown in Figure B. Unfortunately, you cannot just click the Windows 8.1 download button unless you have a Windows 8.1 Product Key from a retail version of the product. So, you'll have to use the following technique.

Figure B

b_gs_11-8.png

The Upgrade Windows with only a product key site has links to download both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

To begin, click the Install Windows 8 button. When you do, you'll be successively prompted by the two Security Warning dialog boxes shown in Figure C. You'll click Run in both instances.

Figure C

c_gs_11-8.png

You click Run in both of these Security Warning dialog boxes.

You'll then see the first screen in the Windows 8 Setup wizard, which prompts you for a Product Key. At this point, enter your Windows 8 product key and wait for it to be verified, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

d_gs_11-8.png

Wait for your Windows 8 product key to be verified.

To continue, click Next. The next screen in the Windows 8 Setup wizard, will identify the edition of Windows 8, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

e_gs_11-8.png

You'll see the Windows 8 edition connected with your download.

Editor's Note: Here is the trick part.

When you click Next, the Windows 8 download will begin. As soon as it passes the 1% mark, click the close button in the upper right corner of the screen. When you do, you'll be prompted to confirm that you want to quit the download operation, as shown in Figure F. To continue, click Yes.

Figure F

f_gs_11-8.png

Click the close button to abort the download.

Downloading the Windows 8.1 ISO

When you abort the Windows 8 download operation, you'll return to the Upgrade Windows with only a product key site. At this point, click the Install Windows 8.1 button. When you do, you'll see two Security Warning dialog boxes similar to the ones shown earlier and will click Run in both instances. You'll then see the Windows 8.1 Setup windows and the download will begin, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

g_gs_11-8.png

The Windows 8.1 download will begin as soon as you click Run in the last Security Warning dialog box.

As the operation nears completion, the download will be checked and the files made ready, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

h_gs_11-8.png

As the download completes it will be checked and the files made ready.

Once the download is complete, checked, and the files are ready, the Setup wizard will prompt you to choose how you want to install Windows 8.1. At this point, you'll select the Install by creating media option, and click Next. You'll then want to select the ISO File option. These two steps are illustrated in Figure I.

Figure I

i_gs_11-8.png

You'll want to select the ISO file option.

I recommend that you select the ISO File option even if you plan to use a USB Flash Drive to actually install Windows 8.1 on your system. Creating an ISO file will provide you the best result because it will allow you to burn a DVD, which will give you a backup, and because Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have the capability to natively mount an ISO file, you'll be able to open the ISO and copy the files it contains to an appropriately sized USB Flash Drive.

After specifying a location on your hard disk to create the ISO file, the Windows 8.1 Setup wizard will create the ISO file, remind you of the Product key, and then prompt you to Open the DVD burner. These steps are illustrated in Figure J.

Figure J

j_gs_11-8.png

After the ISO file is created, select Open DVD burner.

Burn the ISO to DVD

Burning the ISO to DVD in Windows 7 is an easy procedure with the built-in Windows Disc Image Burner. When you see the Windows Disc Image Burner window, insert a DVD disc, and select the Verify disc after burning check box. Then click the Burn button. The burn operation will take a few minutes to complete. These steps are illustrated in Figure K.

Figure K

k_gs_11-8.png

Windows 7's Windows Disc Image Burner makes it easy to convert the ISO file to DVD.

What's your take?

Do you have two or more Windows 8 systems that you want to upgrade to Windows 8.1? If so, will you use this technique to create a Windows 8.1 DVD? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.


Also read:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

37 comments
pestul
pestul

Does the KMS method change your current product key immediately, or is my activated retail copy of Windows 8.1 Pro (With 8 key) still valid for just downloading the iso?  I don't want to jeopardize it just to get this iso as I only really need it for a recovery disk.

N4RPS
N4RPS

@johnson35


I hate posting the same thing twice, but I must have run out of time to edit my first response, and I don't know if I can or how to erase it.


The article says that an OEM key won't work; the key must have been obtained through a retail channel. Having bought my copy at the discounted price Microsoft offered when 8 first came out, mine's not OEM, so I have no way of testing this.


I don't think very highly of Dell's help desk either, but I don't think they can really do much to help you in this situation anyway. This is Mikeysoft's game they're playing on everyone.- not theirs.


As long as it's a legal copy, what bloody difference does it make to anyone if it's retail or OEM? What about people with MAK and/or KMS keys? You can bet their big customers who activate in those ways won't stand for THIS *AT ALL*.


As they say, where there's a will, there's a workaround. Surely SOMEONE has thrown this ISO up out there SOMEWHERE. Since you're working with a large number of machines, If you choose to 'follow' me, we can discuss this in more detail elsewhere.


As someone who also does IT, I'll do what I can for you if you can't get the help you need via TechNet. I see this as an excellent chance to put those WAIK/MDT skills I learned in school to the test by creating a solution to automate pushing this out to a number of machines at once over a LAN...

N4RPS
N4RPS

@johnson35


I don't think highly of them either, but I don't think Dell can do much to help you in this situation anyway. This is Mikeysoft's game they're playing on everyone, not theirs.

.

As they say, where there's a will, there's a workaround. Surely SOMEONE has put this ISO out there SOMEWHERE.


If you elect to 'follow' me so we can converse outside of this forum, as someone who also does IT, I'll do what I can to help.

johnson35
johnson35

Most of the negative comments appear to reveal the inability to follow directions:  need to use the generic key for the installation and use the legit key to activate. 


 Does this method work for OEM computers: dell, hp lenovo,... with embedded activation codes?


I have about 30 computers to update for clients. Downloading from the store for each of them is stupid.


I have tools to retrieve the bios based number. Tried a full upgrade disk on one of the boxes and no key will activate.


Dell personnel are no help.
N4RPS
N4RPS

Hello, All!


Thank you for an excellent article.


The first thing 8.1 Setup asks for is a valid 8.1 key. The key to get past this can be found at:


http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx


Though this key WILL let you continue the install, it WON'T fully activate 8.1, You'll still need a valid 8.0 key to do that. Even though you've skipped the downloading step, all this STILL takes quite a while to complete, so go and find something else to do in the meantime...


After the installation is completed:


1. Right-click the Start button and start the Command Prompt - Admin.


2. Type the following:
   

slmgr /ipk YOUR-W8KEY-WITH-DASHES-HERE
slmgr /rearm


3. Reboot your computer, and it should now be activated.


Luckily, I  had obtained a free key from Microsoft for the Media Center upgrade at the first of the year, so I used it to upgrade to Media Center. However, I had to use telephone activation to rearm the key and activate 8.1 with Media Center.


Hope this helps someone!

hogarthr
hogarthr

Great - very easy-to-follow instructions that worked perfectly

mikestirton
mikestirton

Seems this method, or rather, thus far, the method of obtaining the ISO will work on Windows 8 as well...no need for windows 7 to get the ISO.  I tried the method above and yep, got the ISO downloaded and am currently burning it to disk via Nero.  I will know shortly if this method completely works. 

shruthirap
shruthirap

Successfully installed on Windows 8 this way. Thanks a ton :).

In some site I found that we need to use generic key and once installation is done, we can again add our key and activate.

* Way to add generic key to continue with installation: The Windows 8.1 installer from the ISO does not accept Windows 8 keys. You need to install the system with a generic key (334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT for Core, XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB for Professional) and then enter your Windows 8 key after installing. I used XHQ8N-xxxxxxxxxxxx

* Way to change key after installation is over: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2750773 I used Method 1 and it worked for me.

erintkz
erintkz

 not working ... it tells "We can't connect right now" (Check your internet connections and try again)

sarasmis
sarasmis

I recommend that you select the ISO File option even if you plan to use a USB Flash Drive to actually install Windows 8.1 on your system. windows 8.1 via Go2keys

jgt
jgt

Once the DVD is created how in the heck do you use it. Thus far I have NOT been successful with the disk in my attempts to upgrade my Win8 system to 8.1. I wanted to use the DVD to upgrade all of my personal PCs that have legal copies of Win8 on them. 

jwhausk1
jwhausk1

I don't see what the point is, unless you want to install illegal copies.  Since the ISO requires the product key you used to create it with, it is only good for the original computer.  From what I see it will not work on multiple computers.  I feel like I just wasted 4 hours.

samarita
samarita

My Windows 8 key is not accepted when I try to run the upgrade. What now? I am always surprised when something like this happens. These guys write these articles with beautiful potential solutions, but have they tested it themselves?


pmorris
pmorris

It worked well as far as getting the ISO and burning it. When I went to install 8.1 it asked for a Product code and my Win 8 code was not accepted. Back to square one. Any suggestions?

albert2adams
albert2adams

It doesn't work! I went through the whole process without errors. I upgraded my Windows 7 to Windows 8 with the legit upgrade special for $40. But when I wanted to upgrade my Windows 8, it simply gave me a message this key won't work for this edition of windows. :(

manishsk23
manishsk23

Doesn't work! the installer says this key won't work for this edition of windows after download :(

kitekrazy
kitekrazy

More  trouble than it's worth.  A Windows Ih8 DVD is the new AOL coaster for me.  I will never install it again. Hopefully they won't be so stupid with the next OS.   

manishsk23
manishsk23

will this method will work to upgrade other windows 8 running pcs if you legit keys for all others?

Just want to make sure as I don't want to see cannot activate in windows system window.

amj2010
amj2010

As I said before, the only is the ACRONIS way, key and all...check it out and behappy and no misery, Microstf this time you really blew it...and let people pay heavily afterwards...

No PROPER backup, like Wee 7,  Wee 8 makes me ...........wonder, are they really gone crazy?

n2add
n2add

I'll start off by saying that I purchased a Windows 8 upgrade disc using the $40 special.

I understand from your article that the Windows 8.1 DVD created cannot be used to do a clean install of Windows 8.1 at a later time. This means that if my hard drive dies or I decide to replace it with a new one in the future, I will have to first install Windows 7, then Windows 8, and then Windows 8.1. What a RPITA.

I recently went through the same scenario with Windows 7. I bought a Windows 7 upgrade package a few years ago and then downloaded the Win7SP1 ISO. After using it to reinstall Win 7, it wouldn't activate. I spent almost 40 minutes on the phone with Microsoft to (fortunately) resolve this issue.

I doubt that the activation process thwarts real software pirates and hackers. It just makes life miserable for legitimate users.

matt
matt

I don't have any Windows 8 or 8.1 rigs but I really appreciate the screenshots even thought this article didn't necessarily need them. It's great to be able to "see" the steps in most of these directional articles. You can't get any clearer that is.

kevin.stafferton
kevin.stafferton

Just to point out this works on PCs running Windows 8 and above as well. I recently found I needed Windows 8.1 media to refresh my laptop I was unable to start it after upgrading using Windows Store. The alternative was to reinstall Windows 7 then upgrade to 8 and then upgrade to 8.1. However, i was able to download the 8.1 ISO using this method on my desktop which was already running Windows 8.1.

midlantic
midlantic

Thank you! I was frustrated not having an 8.1 disc available for any potential re-installations in the future on my primary machine which was running 8.0. You get the life saver of the day award!

lifecycled
lifecycled

I have needed to do a full recovery on my OEM embedded win8 Laptop. I will need an OEM 8.1 Recovery ISO before I try 8.1. Making me download a 3.62GB one off update is rude if I need to recover.

lifecycled
lifecycled

I have an embedded OEM windows 8 laptop. I have done a full recovery from the OEM DVD several times thanks to blue screens. I will need an OEM 8.1 recovery ISO BEFORE attempting 8.1. Asking me to down load a 'one off' 3.62GB update file is rude if I need to repeat this process during a recovery. I have contacted the OEM.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

I really could have used this tip about two weeks ago. Could you use a Windows 8.1 ISO?

mikestirton
mikestirton

Like shruthirap, I had success this way as well.  A WHOLE lot better than the other method...damn...what a royal nightmare that is, trying to "guess" what the fault is.  Used the generic key referenced below to install...got to desktop, opened system properties from the control panel, and clicked activate and entered in my original key from the Win 8.0 purchase a year ago and voila.  Media Center upgrade code also works when it comes time to do that portion (previous activation of windows must be done first). 

jgt
jgt

@shruthirap SUPER thanks for letting us know how to use the darn DVD. Greg Shultz, the author did not even reply to emails sent to his account at techrepbulic. IMHO he is almost worthless.

Cybershocked
Cybershocked

@shruthirap 

Oh well, it almost worked.  50% install and then an error message that install failed.  Second try and 100% install and waiting for reboot and then same error message that install failed!  Its too bad that the morons at MS make things as difficult as they can possibly be to do anything with their product.


Cybershocked
Cybershocked

@shruthirap 

Bro, thanks for your post!  You're a lifesaver!  I've been sitting here with my genitals in my hands with no way to make this work!  These articles are all over the place and these morons have never tried this bloody thing because if they did they'd know it doesn't work!  At least not without the fix you posted.  Thanks again bro.  You are a gentleman and a scholar!

ocyrus70
ocyrus70

@n2add  NO you can install windows 8 upgrade as a clean install just google how to do this will save you a lot of problems and time. the same reg hack "legal" can be done and works for windows 7 upgrade. what I read about the net is there is no real full copy of windows 8 from MS..regards

mikestirton
mikestirton

@Barala 

It might be.  However, you can use the alternative called Hiren's.  This is a technical recovery disk with many tools.  It runs on a 'lite' version of windows xp (allows you to boot up a completely screwed computer on the CD, not hard disk), but has many programs packaged with it that allow you to repair hard disk issues, OS issues like virus and Trojan infections and much much more.  And of course, a password recovery program that would allow you to replace the password that was set before.  Downloading a zip file from the official site, it contains the ISO and a small program that is used to burn that ISO directly to CD (it is a small image that fits a CD).  A lot of documentation from their site covers the basics of how to use the disk.  A worthwhile tool to take the time to download and use.

To download the ISO, follow this link... http://www.hirensbootcd.org/

For more information about what is on the disk, see this page... http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd

If you are unsure/cautious about such downloads, you can find plenty of reference to this software through many technical websites dedicated to fixing problems on PCs.  Google is your pal in this regard. 

As for passwords specific to Windows 8, if you login to your computer via Windows Live (your email address is shown when logging into windows), this method will NOT work.  It will work only on local accounts, which XP through to Win7 are.  Windows 8 gives the user a choice for either local or internet MS Live account.  If using the Live account method to login, you will need to go to the MS Live website, attempt to login with the email address used on the PC in question.  You WILL get an error response if you cannot get the password right, but that is ok...you should then see a method to reset the password.  It will require you to access the email that was registered.  In my case, I use my google account as the registered login name.  My google password and MS Live passwords are different for obvious reasons.  Another method (have not tried it yet) is to register a cell phone with text capability on the MS Live site to send you the reset instructions via that method if you do not have access to a working computer.

The Win 8 MS Live method is superior to the local login for just this reason alone.  There are many other benefits as well...I have 4 computers, each quite different.  All use MS Live login, and all retain my settings and preferences (IE Bookmarks, contacts and so on) on MS Live via cloud technology...need to reinstall, that data is brought back to the computer without fear of loss.  Very cool feature IMO.


Cuffy10
Cuffy10

@Mark W. Kaelin

Mark, we're down the road a ways since this was posted and there seems to be some conflicting info regarding the free Windows Media Center that was included with the initial release of Win8.

I have downloaded the Win8.1 ISO, burned to DVD, and did a clean install to a freshly formatted drive,

It works fine, looks fine but there's no Media Center.

Can anyone confirm that I can use my Win8 key to register this clean install of Win8.1, go to features and add Media Center, then use my old Windows Media Key to reregister to Win8.1 with Media Center?

I'd hate to lose Windows Media Center simply because I used the wrong procedure.

Thanks for help.

Roger