Four Places To Find Your Windows 8 Product Key

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Windows 8 and 8.1 PCs no longer have a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) sticker with their product key printed on it. This helps prevent theft — people can’t just glance at a sticker on your laptop to get your Windows product key. On the other hand, you can’t simply look at a sticker on your Windows PC when you reinstall the operating system. You’ll have to find the 25-digit product key elsewhere.

Having your product key is necessary if you want to download Windows 8 or 8.1 installation media from Microsoft. Their downloads require a valid product key. It’s also useful if you want to perform a fresh install of Windows to wipe away all the bloatware that comes with a new PC.

Embedded in UEFI Firmware

PCs that come with Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT have an encrypted product key embedded in their UEFI firmware. When you reinstall the same version of Windows 8 or 8.1 on a PC that came with it, the product key will be automatically applied and activated. You won’t see any product key prompt — it will all happen automatically.

This only applies if you’re installing the same copy of Windows. This doesn’t apply if you install an upgrade copy, a system-builder copy, or a different edition of Windows 8. This also won’t work if you try to install Windows 8.1 on a PC that came with Windows 8 — Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 have different product keys for some reason, so you’d need to install the original version of Windows 8 and then upgrade to Windows 8.1 via the Windows Store.

This feature is designed to simplify things, but you may need to get at your Windows product key anyway — use a tool in the next section to view this hidden key while Windows is installed.

product key embedded in uefi firmware 2

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On a Running Windows System

The Windows product key is normally hidden and not shown anywhere in Windows’ interface. However, you can use a third-party utility to view the product key stored in Windows. You can then write down this product key and re-enter it when installing Windows. This is the only way to find the Windows product key on PCs that come with Windows 8 or 8.1 pre-installed.

You’ll need to download a third-party tool for this. We like NirSoft’s lightweight ProduKey utility, but you can also use another product-key-finding utility. Run the tool and it will display the Windows product key in use on your current Windows system — write it down so you can use it later.

use-produkey-to-find-windows-product-key

In a Purchase Confirmation Email

If you purchased Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 online — maybe you grabbed that cheap $40 or $15 offer when Windows 8 was released — you’ll find your Windows 8 or 8.1 product key included in an email Microsoft sent you at the time of purchase. The product key from this email can be used when you reinstall Windows 8 or 8.1.

Here’s what our email looks like. Its subject is “Thanks for ordering Windows 8” and it was sent from Microsoft Customer Support. Your email may look a bit different if you purchased Windows 8 or 8.1 more recently.

windows-8-product-key-in-order-confirmation-email

Included In a Retail Windows Box

If you purchased a retail, boxed copy of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you’ll find your product key included on a card in that box. You may need to dig the box out of your closet to find your product key. Look for a card with a picture of a key on it. If you set it aside when you originally installed Windows 8, we hope you remember where you put it!

windows 8 retail product key 2

Visit Microsoft’s Upgrade Windows with only a product key page to download installation media for Windows 8 or 8.1 — all you need is the product key you found above.

Having trouble? Bear in mind that Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 have different product keys for some reason. If you have a Windows 8 key, you can’t install Windows 8.1 — you have to install Windows 8 and use the free upgrade to Windows 8.1. If you have a Windows 8.1 key, you can’t install Windows 8 with it. If you try either of these things, you’ll receive an “invalid product key” message. Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade to all Windows 8 users, so why Microsoft decided to make this so complicated is a mystery.

Image Credit: Kiewic on Flickr, Jon Fingas on Flickr, Frank Lindecke on Flickr

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the drawing shed

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the drawing shed is a contemporary arts organisation set up in 2009; It is led by visual artists Sally Labern and Bobby Lloyd who practice both collaboratively and autonomously, using diverse media and engaging with ideas led work around creating ‘communities of the imagination‘ and issues of resilience,  resistance,  commonality,  class, and displacement. Based on two housing estates in Walthamstow, East London, from where they bridge on and off, the work is inter-generational and inter-cultural and involves diverse partners and communities which include teenage girls, boys, women, mixed gender adult groups and older people.

the drawing shed’s three trademark mobile spaces, established in 2009/10/11 as an artist-led resource, form a central platform for our creative practice and are at the heart of the drawing shed. These three mobile studios – the drawing shed, ClayOven and PrintBike (sponsored by Brompton) - live in the drawing shed’s three garages on The Drive housing estate E17, courtesy of the estate managers, Ascham Homes, from where the artists have run arts projects on the local estates, at Forest YMCA, and in settings across London since 2009. Through these mobile projects, the drawing shed is able to go to where people are rather than waiting for them to arrive, also using online tools, such as Twitter, where and when it fits. Bridging in and out of the durational project on the estates, social media, printmaking, festival, pop-up cinema, food, film, installation, ‘public’ intervention and live art writing are used to create art works, share ideas,  develop community-based performance and an inter-community dialogue.

the drawing shed works closely with University of East London (IHHD) on the relationship between creativity, networks and community cohesion. We have five years of diverse experience using our mobile studios to deliver contemporary arts projects that engage people on various levels always extending a real but critical dialogue. The artists often develop long-term relationships with individuals which allow complex and rich collaborations to emerge as trust develops. Integral to our work is a strong focus on developing dialogue that includes elements of friction and contested ideas, and the celebration of difference through the content of visual arts projects. Alongside this, we also respond as individuals and in collaboration to commission briefs for site specific and other work that extends our ideas and practice. While the work is led by Labern and Lloyd as lead artists, other artists are brought into the team for their willingness to engage with the unpredictable.

Funded by Arts Council England (ACE) in addition to local council ward funds and charitable trusts, the drawing shed has worked with diverse partners including: Well London with the Institute of Health and Human Development at University of East London (UEL/IHHD) and London Sustainability Exchange; Arts Council England (ACE); Goldsmiths College, University of London; Forest YMCA; Allies and Morrison; Dohaland; University of Qatar; Pentonville Prison; BAAT; A New Direction; Local Authorities; primary & secondary schools, including Walthamstow School for Girls; Walthamstow International Film Festival and E17 Art Trail; New Work Network; London Arts and Health Forum (LAHF); Live Art Development Agency; Studio Polpo; Immediate Theatre; Proboscis; Campaign for Drawing (Big Draw national award winners 2009), Heart in the Community (Public Health/Social Action for Health), Pakistani Community Forum, Well London Phase Two/UEL, and most recently in 2014 for Text Festival with Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre with The Public Typing Pool and residency, Bury Light Nights with the commission ‘Artificial Sunshine‘ and Wandsworth Arts Council and Public Health, for Some[w]Here research. 

 

 

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