February 19, 2014

Analysis and Comparison of Windows 8/8.1 Activation Methods

Actually, the activation mechanism and methods of Windows 8.1 is not too different from Windows 8, but only Retail version and OEM key are the same in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Therefore, let’s analyze them in details and choose appropriate Windows 8.1 activation way.

Four activation ways analysis and comparison for Windows 8/8.1:

1. OEM Activation.

Windows product key has been embedded in computer BIOS. As long as you have installed the same version Windows system previously, Windows could be activated through network automatically. And OEM key is available for both Windows 8 and 8.1. For example, a computer pre-installed with Windows 8 could be activated online after installing Windows 8.1.

2. Retail Channel Activation.

The Retail version key is also commonly used in Windows 8 and 8.1. If you have purchased product key for Windows 8 retail version, now you can activate Windows 8.1 the same version with the same key. First, install Windows 8.1 with the installation product key from download page. Second, activate Windows 8.1 with product key we have paid for. For example, Windows 8 retail version key could activate Windows 8.1 pro. 
Tips: Retail version key is only available for Windows 8 Standard and Professional. For Windows 8 Enterprise, there are only KMS and MAK for activation.

With above two activation ways to activate Windows 8, Windows 8.1 could be activated with the same key after installation.  

3. KMS Activation.

KMS activation way for Windows 8 is not available for Windows 8.1 now, because of the KMS activation mechanism upgrade and their key is not used commonly.

4. MAK Volume Activation Key Activation.

MAK is volume licensing activation key for Enterprise users. Usually there are some MAK discovered on the Internet. Many computer users activate Windows with MAK. But unfortunately, MAK for Windows 8 doesn’t apply to Windows 8.1. So if you have ever activated Windows 8 with MAK, now Windows 8.1 has to be activated again after installation.

Above two activation ways couldn’t preserve Windows activation information from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. Also we couldn’t restore Windows 8 activation information to activate Windows 8.1.

How to activate Windows 8.1 after upgrading Windows 8 to 8.1?

Step 1: Make sure which version of Windows 8 ever installed.
If you are ready to install and activate Windows 8.1, now please make sure which version of Windows 8 you have ever installed first in your computer.

1. Press Win + R to open Run box and type in “slmgr.vbs -dlv”.

2. Check the third line of the results. Generally, it would be like this:
Windows(R) Operating System, ********* channel
The part “*********” represents Windows system activation channel you have used. 

VOLUME_KMSCLIENT represents KMS, VOLUME_MAK represents MAK, Retail represents Retail activation, and OEM means OEM activation channel.

Step 2: Activate Windows 8.1
From the Windows 8 activation information, we know it has  been activated with KMS. So we couldn't activate Windows 8.1 directly.

Activation Guide:
1. Get product key first, such as Retail version key, which could activate Windows 8/8.1 Professional.
2. Activate Windows 8/8.1 by phone. Or find answers or ask for help from network.

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