Transferring a Windows 8 product key from one computer to another can be quite simple once you know all the steps involved. Also, you will need to keep in mind some legality issues, so be sure to keep on reading to find out what types of licenses can be transferred and how to do it.
Recently I managed to part ways with my old and trusty laptop which was rapidly reaching the end of its days and move on to a brand new Satellite Pro with more up-to-date hardware under its hood. But as I was installing Windows 8.1 and all the other software I usually work with, I noticed that my Windows serial key didn’t want to work on the new device, since it was already in use on the old laptop (kinda’ obvious now that I think about it).
After doing some digging, I found out a few things about how to transfer a Windows 8 license to a new computer, and figured I could share my findings so that other in a similar situation can quickly find the information they need. The process is pretty simple, but you will to take notice of a few aspects as well as install a small piece of software.
Step 1: Is your license Retail or OEM?
This is very important, as OEM licenses cannot be (legally) transferred to another computer. If you don’t know which type of Windows 8 license you have, here’s a simple way to find out: if your laptop / PC came with Windows 8.1 pre-installed, then it’s OEM, if you’ve bought the license yourself (either online or at your local computer shop), then that license is Retail. Pretty simple right?
After moving on, I will say this again. Transferring an OEM Windows license is not permitted, so do it at your own risk.
Note: You can also find out what type of Windows license you have by opening a Command Prompt or PowerShell as Admin and typing in the command slmgr /dlv and reading the “Description” row
Step 2: Find out your Product key
If you have a DVD with your Windows 8 product key printed on it, then you can skip this step. However, if you’ve bought your Windows license as a digital download and you’ve somehow deleted/lost the email receipt, then you will need to obtain your product from the depths of your computer’s registries.
There are plenty of tools which will fish out your registry key, which you can later use to activate Windows 8 on another computer. From personal experience, I can recommend:
- Belarc Advisor, which shows you a ton of information about your computer after you run the tool, but it does have the downside of taking a bit longer to gather all that information, and after it finishes, it opens an HTML file with all the information and you have to find your Windows key under the “Manage all your software licenses…” block.
Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder, a tool which is delivers on its promise of simplicity and shows you a clean and easy to read window with all your installed products and corresponding serial numbers.
Both these tools are free, and after you run them, you will have your Windows 8 product key ready to move it to your new computer. But before we do that, there’s one more thing to do on the old device.
Step 3: Uninstall / Deactivate Your Windows 8 Product Key
Now that you have retrieved your Windows serial key and noted it down somewhere safe, you can move on to uninstall it from the old computer. As you can imagine, if you don’t do this, when you input your serial key on the new computer, it will prompt you that the key is already in use on another device and return an ugly “invalid key” error.
To uninstall your Windows product key, all you need to do is open up a Command Prompt or PowerShell as Administrator and type in the following command: slmgr.vbs /upk (or if that does not work on your version, try using slmgr.vbs -upk). If all goes well, you should see a prompt appear on your screen which informs you that the product key has been successfully uninstalled.
Step 4: Add the Product Key to the new Computer
Now that you have successfully deactivated your serial number from the old computer, you can add it to your new device. This can be done by right-clicking This PC and selecting Properties, and at the bottom of the screen, you will see a link which says “Activate Windows“. Following the wizard will allow you to activate your Windows 8 with the same product key you had on your own computer.
Note: The activation process can also be done via Command Prompt or PowerShell (Admin) by using the command slmgr /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX, where you’ll be replacing all those X’s with your serial number
If you are experiencing problems with your Windows activation, you can choose Phone activation and have a chat with the Microsoft support staff which will sort things out for you.