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In this post, we show you how to:
- locate your Windows 8 (Pro, Enterprise, RT) product key on your laptop or desktop computer
- use a key extractor to locate it
- how to get Windows 8 if you bought it but can’t find the product key
- how to get Windows 8 if you never bought it before
Windows 8, like the majority of operating systems, require entry of unique activation keys, sometimes called product keys, certificates of authenticity, or serial numbers, during installation.
During your installation or re-installation of Windows 8, you must have this serial key to complete the installation.
Where Is Windows 8 or 8.1 Product Key Located?
Usually, your Windows 8 product key will be bundled with the email you got after buying Windows 8 for download, or if you bought it in a box from a store with a disc, it’ll be bundled with the packaging.
So try searching your email accounts for a Windows receipt if you bought it digitally- it could be buried in your Gmail or Outlook accounts.
If Windows 8 came pre-installed on your computer, your serial key should be located on a sticker on your computer or included within documentation, in one of those ziplock baggies we hope you didn’t throw out!
It should look a lot like the picture you see below:
Fortunately, if you cannot locate Windows 8 32 or 64-bit serial key documentation, you may be able to extract it from the Windows Registry using what’s called a serial key finder program.
It is a quick process that will take a couple of minutes.
You have to understand, a serial key locator software program will only locate your valid Windows 8 key if Windows 8 is installed and operating normally, and if you have manually entered the Windows 8 activation code in some previous installation.
How To Locate Your Windows 8 or 8.1 Product Key
Use A Key Extractor
According to LifeWire, they recommend using Belarc Advisor to extract your Windows 8 product key.
How To Use The Belarc Advisor Extractor
To start, download Belarc Advisor, a totally free PC audit program with full Windows 8 support that also operates as a key finder tool.
When a manual search for your Windows 8 product has failed, extracting it from the registry is the next best option.
We’ve listed out some popular key finder software utilities below, but LifeWire does say that Belarc Advisor has proven capable of successfully extracting working Windows 8 activation keys, so it’s recommended.
Once you’ve installed Belarc Advisor make sure you follow all the instructions provided during the installation.LifeWire does note that if you select an alternative key finder, many are sustained by optional add-on programs, so be sure to uncheck those options during the software program’s installation- you don’t want to install bloatware or spyware!
Now you’ll want to run Belarc Advisor and take note of the Windows 8 serial product key that’s displayed in the Software Licenses area.
The Windows 8 product activation key is a series of 25 letters and numbers and ought to look like a string like this: xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx.
Get the exact Windows 8 key string exactly as shown to be used when reinstalling Windows 8.
What If The Belarc Advisor Key Extractor Doesn’t Work?
If Belarc Advisor didn’t find your Windows 8 serial product key, you might try a different key finder utility like LicenseCrawler or Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder.
On the other hand, if you want to install Windows 8 but was not successful in finding your Windows 8 serial code with a product key finder program, you have two more choices:
You can request a substitute product key or you can buy a brand new copy of Windows 8.1 from a retailer like Amazon. An unpopular solution- but it will ship with a new and valid product key.
Requesting a replacement Windows 8 serial key is going to be a lot more cost effective than buying an entirely brand-new copy of Windows 8, but you may have to do that if the replacement doesn’t work.
Getting It If You Never Bought It
According to LifeWire, there are two, entirely legitimate methods to obtain a full copy of Windows 8.1.
Buy A Copy From Amazon Or Newegg
If you are new to Windows 8, buying Windows 8.1 (Windows 8 with the 8.1 update already included) is just about the most legit option. Occasionally you will find a cheaper boxed copy of Windows 8 (before the 8.1 update) from general eCommerce merchants like Amazon or from a consumer electronics outlet like NewEgg, which you’ll then upgrade to Windows 8.1 free of charge following set up.
Subscribe to Visual Studio
Your next option is to download Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 for “free” together with a paid Visual Studio subscription (formerly referred to as an MSDN subscription), priced at $539 each year for a new membership subscription. You will get a copy of Windows 8.1 in ISO format, geared up for burning to a disc or porting to a Flash device.
This is a professional membership program available to buy by anyone but intended for software program developers. You receive usage of all full versions of Windows 8 & 8.1, which includes legitimate serial keys, along with software program and product keys for nearly every software program and operating-system the Microsoft company has ever developed.
The Visual Studio subscription program is certainly not inexpensive. Unless, of course, you are a computer software developer as well as other specialist, IT person that requires access to various computer operating systems, a Visual Studio membership most likely is not an economical solution to legitimately obtain Windows 8.
LifeWire does advise that if you currently have a Windows 8 or 8.1 disc or ISO and therefore are just attempting to download Windows 8 because you need to do the installation on a computer with no optical drive, there’s a method of getting the data files from the disc or ISO onto a memory stick. LifeWire has a guide for installing Windows from USB.
Getting It If You Bought It (But It’s Misplaced Or Damaged)
A better alternative for individuals with misplaced or damaged, but legitimate, copies of Windows 8 or 8.1 would be to order replacement media. There is certainly no need to pay the full price for an additional copy of Windows 8 or risk being infected with malware by downloading a cracked copy.
If Windows 8 came preinstalled on your personal computer, and also you did have DVD or flash media however it is broken or missing, speak to your computer system manufacturer for a substitute. Contingent on their protection plan, your laptop or computer manufacturer might offer you Windows 8 media free of charge or a bit of a fee.
For those who legally bought and downloaded Windows 8 from Microsoft, you are able to download Windows 8 or 8.1 again, providing you have got your activation key saved somewhere.
For those who obtained a store Windows 8 DVD, you are able to get in touch with the Microsoft Supplemental Parts team and ask for a substitute copy.
Although it is not a replacement for Windows 8, another handy hack is that you can make a Recovery Drive for Windows 8 by using a friend or family member’s Windows 8 personal computer, all for the price of a memory stick.
Your Recovery Drive may be used to carry out all the diagnostic and maintenance capabilities that the complete copy of Windows 8 can.
Was Windows 8 That Bad?
The YouTube creator walks us through why Windows 8 was so unpopular and whether, looking back on it, the criticism was warranted.
He says that this Microsoft operating system was released to consumers in October of 2012 and Windows 8 was released at a very intriguing time. Windows 8 was introduced right in the midst of the mobile computing and smartphone revolution and at first glimpse, Windows, 8’s graphical user interface seems like something a user might find on a smartphone or tablet because of the introduction of contemporary smartphones with the iPhone in 2007 and modern day tablets with the iPad.
In 2010, conventional personal computers were becoming much less relevant to lots of people.
Microsoft, in an effort to rekindle enthusiasm around Microsoft Windows and in an endeavor to take a greater foothold in the mobile space, chose to take a more mobile approach with the user interface design of its next operating-system after the Windows 7 user interface, which was mostly mouse and keyboard dependent. Having said that, the style changes to Windows 8 massively backfired with lots of customers and companies loathing the design changes to Windows 8.
This led to the release of various updates to the operating system to try and enhance the design with Windows 8.1, introducing things back to the operating system that was missing upon the initial release of Windows. 8- for example the Windows Start button.
However, this still was not sufficient to persuade consumers and corporations to give the operating-system an opportunity, and lots of people chose to stick with Windows 7 until Windows 10 was launched. Windows 8 is basically considered one of Microsoft’s greatest mistakes and one of the worst operating systems of all time, but was Windows 8 really that bad, the creator asks. Windows 7 was a huge success for Microsoft Windows. It was basically a more dependable version of Windows.
Vista was launched in October 2009, which was right around the time the smartphone revolution was taking off, but before modern tablets started taking off.
Development of Windows, 8 started before Windows 7 was even released and was mostly created with a mobile revolution in mind, with a version of Windows 8 being planned to be released on ARM processors.
The Metro UI
In addition to x86 64 processors, in an effort to modernize the user interface of Windows, Microsoft developed a new design language for Windows, 8 user interface originally known as the Metro design language, but was later on altered to the Microsoft design language.
Prior to the release of Windows 8, Metro was mostly based upon the foundations of huge, attention-grabbing typography.
The Metro UI was meant to be readily readable and simple to navigate- one of the crowning features of the Metro, UI and Windows 8 was the development of the full-screen Windows Start screen, which changed the Windows Start menu which was present in Windows 95 through Windows. 7.
The objective of the Start screen was to allow users to have an easy one-stop touchscreen and friendly place that they can access all the relevant information and apps on their personal computer.
One of the greatest features at the Start screen was an introduction of live tiles, which were basically fancier icons that could display information pulled from various sources in real-time without demanding the user to open an app to see with the introduction of the Metro UI.
Also came the introduction of Metro style apps, which are nowadays known as Universal Windows Platform apps or Windows Store Apps. Windows Store, apps and Windows 8 were obtainable through the then-new Windows Store, which was basically an app store similar to the ones available on mobile devices.
But for your PC Windows Store, apps and Windows 8 did not run in a separate window; instead, they ran totally fullscreen. The reason Microsoft did this was allegedly in an effort to supply a less messy graphical user interface to end-users, unfortunately, this made multitasking harder, regardless of the presence of a split-screen multitasking mode in Windows. 8.
The first version of Windows, 8’s Metro UI was typically touch-based and was best navigated using touch gestures. Windows Store apps were possibly most notorious for being hard to navigate by mouse and keyboard users with the original version of Windows 8 lacking a close or minimize button for Metro apps.
Windows 8 also saw the introduction of the Charms bar, which was a Vertical toolbar that could be utilized by swiping in the right edge of the screen using a touchscreen or shifting the cursor to the correct hotspots at the right corners of the screen, which supplied access to important system functions.
Regardless of all these GUI changes, Microsoft additionally maintained most of the user interface and functionality that was present in Windows 7 via the use of a desktop computer tile on the Windows Start screen by clicking or tapping this tile.
You were brought to a user interface extremely similar to the one used in Windows 7, and this user interface could be used for the most part. The exact same way, you could use Windows, 7’s user interface.
However, one obvious omission from Windows 8 was that there’s not a way to boot up to the Windows desktop by default, pushing users to interact with this Start screen whether or not they desired to or not. Reception to the interface changes in Windows 8 was all round mixed.
Many people lauded the new UI changes in Windows 8, with some people praising the Start screen- saying that it’s a good way for users to interact with dynamic information when compared to folder cluttered desktops and most other desktop computer operating systems.
A number of other critics also liked how the Metro UI worked with touchscreens. Even so, many individuals who use Windows with a keyboard or mouse instead of a touchscreen weren’t pleased with the user interface changes to Windows 8 with many users alleging it was more challenging to navigate with some saying that things like shutting down the operating system, weren’t immediately apparent to users. Many people thought the user interface changes to Windows 8 looked so unintuitive and forecasted that individuals wouldn’t like the changes and that turned out to be true.
Microsoft was also criticized for not supplying in-depth instructions regarding how to navigate the operating system. The graphical user interface changes made in Windows 8 were the most radical interface changes made to Windows since Windows 95. Because of these interface changes, Windows 8 adoption was sluggish when compared with Windows 7 with many individuals and corporations deciding to bypass Windows 8 entirely hoping Microsoft would fix the design issues that were present in Windows 8 in a future release of Windows.
Product Sales Slump
Windows 8 was also held responsible for the greatest personal computer product sales slump in 19 years in the first quarter of 2013. Because of to the lack of user interest in purchasing computer systems with Windows 8, released Windows 8.1 in October of 2013, which set to improve the Metro UI for mouse and keyboard end users. This saw the restoration of the Windows Start button on the desktop.
Even though clicking the button would open the Start screen instead of a Start menu which was still missing with the release of Windows 8.1.
A new Quick Links menu was likewise included with Windows 8.1 that could be reached by right-clicking the Start button which provided links to Administrative Tools on your computer system and also supplied fast access to shut down and sign out options. Users were able to boot to the desktop by default, permitting the option to bypass the Start screen entirely upon booting up an update to Windows 8.1 called Windows.
An 8.1 Update was launched in April of 2014, which incorporated close and minimize buttons to the Windows Store and also allowed users to see and pin Windows Store apps to the desktop taskbar, which was not feasible in the original versions of Windows 8.
Third Party Modifications
On account of the user interface changes to Windows 8, several third-party businesses came out with programs which could alter the user interface of Windows 8 to act more like the user interface of Windows 7.
Classic shell, for instance, was a well-liked program which could put a Windows 7 style Start menu into Windows 8. Start 8 was one other popular program that essentially did exactly the same thing as Classic Shell. Star Docs also brought out an application called Modern Mix. It would permit you to run Windows Store apps and resizable windows on your computer’s desktop.
Windows 10 Release
Ultimately, though, the majority of the interface problems of Windows 8 were resolved with the release of Windows 10. Windows 10 saw the return of the Windows Start menu and saw the arrival of the capability to run Windows Store apps in windowed mode, amongst other things.
Windows 8 Legacy
Looking past the questionable user interface changes to Windows 8, it also had many additional features that have been received relatively positively. Windows 8 saw quicker boot times than Windows 7.
Because of the arrival of a new feature called fast startup Windows 8 additionally saw several enhancements to the Task Manager and saw a number of innovative developments to Windows Explorer now called File Explorer, which were meant to make both the Task Manager and File Explorer simpler to use. Windows 8 also saw a number of security and safety improvements, for example, the arrival of a built-in computer virus program called Windows Defender.
Windows Defender was simple when compared with other computer virus programs at the time, but having Windows Defender incorporated with Windows 8 was a step up from Windows 7, which in fact had no integrated, pre-installed antivirus. Windows 8 also saw the development of a new file backup system called File History, which worked by building incremental backups of files stored in designated folders, which has similarities to how Apple’s Time Machine functionality and OS 10 worked.
If you had Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise, there is also access to the Microsoft Hyper-V platform, which permitted you to operate virtual machines within Windows. 8 Windows 8 also saw developments for a multi-monitor support by permitting users to span the Taskbar across multiple video display units and Windows 8 also permitted you to select various wallpapers for each monitor.
Windows 8 saw the development of per display dpi scaling, which permitted the consumer to select diverse user interface scaling amounts to each display they had connected.
Windows 8 also incorporated native support for USB 3.0. Unlike Windows, 7, where an individual driver had to be installed to use USB 3.0 Windows, 8 was also ported to devices using ARM architectures and a version of Windows called Windows RT. Windows 8 saw the development of the capability to reinstall Windows without resorting to installation media by using the reset and refresh options that could be reached from the Advanced Boot Options menu and PC settings respectively.
Windows 8 also saw the development of Microsoft’s cloud-based storage system called SkyDrive, which is nowadays known as OneDrive. Windows 8 also saw the arrival of cloud-based syncing services which permitted the user to sync their Windows address book, pictures settings SkyDrive data, etc. Microsoft was able to do all this without increasing the hardware requirements of Windows 8 from the hardware requirements of Windows 7. In conclusion, was Windows 8 really that terrible in the beginning?
Sure, but after Windows 8.1 was launched a lot of the difficulties with the original version of Windows 8 were fixed and, if you’re prepared to use a couple of third-party programs to enhance the user interface of Windows, 8, the overall performance improvements and the rest of the new features that were added to Windows. 8 made Windows 8 all round a really good operating system.
It could possibly even be contended that Windows 8 even triggered innovation in the laptop or computer hardware industry again with many new intriguing pcs being introduced after the release of Windows 8 such as the introduction of the popular 2 in 1 laptop-tablet, hybrid personal computers.
Ryan is a computer enthusiast who has a knack for fixing difficult and technical software problems. Whether you’re having issues with Windows, Safari, Chrome or even an HP printer, Ryan helps out by figuring out easy solutions to common error codes.