How to Recover the Windows 8.1 Product Key

There may be innumerable reasons as to why the Windows 8.1 product key needs to be recovered. Some of the common reasons pertain to losing the serial key to not knowing where to find the serial key in a new preloaded computer or laptop etc. Initially, it was very easy to take note of the product key since it all OEMs manufacturing computers generally had the “Proof of licence” or the “Certificate of Authenticity” sticker pasted onto the computer or laptop. This sticker also contained the product key and hence every time the same was needed, the user just had to read it from the sticker.

However, now, in order to ensure that there is no theft of the product key, all computers and laptops which come with a preloaded Windows operating system, have their serial key or product key embedded in the BIOS or the registry of the computer.

Importance of the serial key

The product key or the serial key is a unique combination of 25characters, usually in the form of a code. These 25 characters are divided into 5 sets each and are required for the completion of the installation of the Windows 8.1 version and its subsequent activation. This product is generally received along with a licensed version of Windows 8.1 when it is legally purchased and is present either:

  • Embedded in the BIOS of a preloaded computer,
  • As a sticker in a preloaded computer,
  • On the box of a genuine Windows 8.1 CD or DVD and
  • In an email when the same has been purchased online.

Recovery of the product key

Irrespective of how the product key has been genuinely obtained, there are three processes associated with the recovery of the same.

These processes include:

#1 Finding the key from the registry:

In order to get the same from the registry, the following steps need to be followed.

Step 1: Using the function Win + R makes the Run dialog box to appear.

Step 2: In the text box present within the Run dialog box, the command Regedit needs to be entered. The Windows Registry Editor gets subsequently opened.

Step 3: There is a code in the form which needs to be navigated to and selected. This option is the storehouse of several important settings for Windows 8.1.

Step 4: The option ProductId needs to be selected and the Modify option chosen.

This displays the relevant Windows 8.1 product key for the uploaded Operating System and needs to be taken down somewhere safe. Then the Cancel button needs to be clicked so that no changes are made to the product key and the whole system put into jeopardy. Thus the user needs to be extra careful here.

#2 Finding a new Windows 8.1 product key from Microsoft:

If the above method does not prove to be any help, the user needs to contact Microsoft and request for a replacement of the original product. But in order to get the same, the user will need to mention the     version of Windows 8.1 that he is currently using. In fact if it is an OEM version, he needs to get in touch with the PC dealer from whom he had purchased the machine and ask them for help.

If the vendor is able to provide the product key then the user problem gets solved else Asking for help from Microsoft is the only option left. After getting a new replacement product key from Microsoft, the same needs to be activated using the following process:

  • The command prompt needs to be opened as an administrator,
  • The present product key for Windows 8.1 needs to be uninstalled using the command “slmgr/upk”,
  • A message pops up which categorically states that the same has been done,
  • The new product key has to be installed now using the command “slmgr/ipk” and putting in the 25character code product key after the command,
  • Another message pops up which confirms the installation of the new product key.

This can be verified by subsequently refreshing and then checking the page giving the system properties.

#3 Find the product key using 3rd party software:

This is the last resort to take if the two processes given above do not work. There are many good 3rd party software available which can be used to find out lost or forgotten Windows 8.1 product keys. The steps that need to be followed in order to successfully obtain the product key are:

  • Searching for a good 3rd party software, the Product Key Finder, and getting it installed onto the desktop or laptop,
  • Once installed, the user needs to run it and select the option Start Recovery,
  • After some time, the screen displays a list of all products Ids present in the computer along with their software license keys,
  • This list can be saved to a file in the form of a text document using the appropriate option as provided onto the screen.

Opening this document will display the Windows 8.1 product key along with the other license keys thereby enabling the user to take note of the same.

There is much different third party software available on the internet and hence the user needs to be very careful about the one he selects. Those that are supported by Microsoft or ones which have good customer reviews should always be given preference over the rest.

While all the 3 processes have been proved to be successful in obtaining the Windows 8.1 product key, there might be instances wherein all the above methods fail to recover the same. These instances leave the user with no other option but to buy a new licensed version of Windows 8.1 and install the same onto the computer. This will definitely not be cost-effective and thus should only be used as a last resort. In fact, requesting for a replacement from Microsoft is a far more cost-effective process but in case the same fails, the user will have to opt for a new Windows 8.1.

Mohd Sohel Ather is a Senior Principal Software Engineer. Also a writer and enjoys exploring the latest software development technologies and taking on new challenges.