I made a mistake of switching the HD with an SSD too soon on my ASUS X555LN (preinstalled with Windows 8.1), I actually forgot to make an image backup of the OS partition. Worse, I didn’t want to go through another episode of opening the laptop since it was one heck of a job and the unit’s still brand new.
So here’s a hack I did to install a clean Windows 8.1 OS with the product key and of course activated.
- Download this tool from NirSoft hat tip to Nir Sofer, you are one awesome dude =)
- Attach the original HDD via USB. This now acts as an external drive, don’t boot to this hard disk it won’t work.
- Important, run produkey as Administrator, otherwise the software won’t be able to see the key on the external drive.
- Produkey will provide the product key (make sure to save this) and the Windows OS installed on the HDD. Mine was Windows 8.1 64bit single language.
- Download the correct Windows iso and create a bootable usb drive from it. You can do it manually or just use Rufus to save time.
- Install Windows with your key.
- Boot and run CMD as Administrator.
- Then run this command slmgr -upk, you should get an “Uninstalled product key successfully” message.
- Reboot and done. Product key restored and Windows is activated.
PLEASE NOTE, I have no idea on the legal implications of doing it this way but the bottom line is, I have a legal product key and used it only on the same computer where it’s intended.
Moreover, this will likely work only on systems that came preinstalled with a Windows operating system.
As usual, there are no guarantees in life, follow instructions at your own risk.