Will Windows 8 require a product key at the point of installation?

Will Windows 8 require a product key at the point of installation?

Summary: If the Consumer Preview is anything to go by, then yes.

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From today's mailbox:

I've noticed that when I install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview I have to enter a product key during installation. There doesn't seem to be an option to install the operating system and then add the product key down the line. Being able to install the OS without having to enter a product key was useful in some circumstances (like creating a temporary virtual machine or testing a system).

Will the final release of Windows 8 require a product key during installation?

Yes, I noticed that too. Here's the install screen that prevents you from going any further unless you enter a valid product key:

Notice how that Next button is grayed out? It will stay that way until you enter a product key. This behavior is different to what you see in Windows 7.

So, will the final release of Windows 8 require a product key during installation or not? When reaching out to Microsoft for answers, is that at this stage nothing has been finalized and that things are "in flux".

However, what is interesting is a wording change in the license terms document accompanying the operating system. Here's the relevant entry from the license terms for Windows 8 Consumer Preview relating to activation [emphasis added]:

MANDATORY ACTIVATION. The purpose of activation is to prevent unlicensed use of the software. Activation occurs automatically the first time you use the software if the licensed computer is connected to the Internet. If you cannot activate the software when you first use it, the software will periodically remind you to activate it. You may not bypass or circumvent activation.

This is different to the wording in the Windows 7 license terms document and seems to suggest that activation is automatic and happens as soon as the system connects to the Internet. In order to do this you would need a product key entered during installation. This is a departure from previous versions and could mean that you'll need to enter that product key right at the point of installation, which for some users could be an irritation, such as when creating temporary virtual machines.

The bottom line is we don't know if this change is permanent or not, but if it is it could mean having to enter a product key for each installation, no matter how temporary.

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Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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14 comments
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  • Windows 8 Product Keys

    Windows 8 Server Beta didn't require a product key but might have silently self-activated.

    Docs for Windows 8 Consumer Preview said product key was required only when installing from *.iso image, which I did in both cases.

    --rj
    Roger_Jennings
  • Why Wouldn't it?

    I suspect it will be the same as it always has been. Requiring the key at installation unless it came from the OEM and you are using an OEM specific disc that activates using the information from the BIOS.

    I guess it is possible that the checkbox to select the option to not enter a key at this time could be there so when you install it gives you a few days grace period but I fail to see why that is needed anyway. Simply just enter the key at the time of installation.
    bobiroc
    • It'll be slightly different now

      All logo'd systems will use the UEFI. ;)
      Joe_Raby
  • Will Windows 8 require a product key at the point of installation?

    Yes just like every version of Microsoft Windows. Having the key at this point may work out better. If there is no key then no time wasted installing to find out you don't have a key.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • What Windows needs is a PGP Repository, not UEFI

    UEFI is extremist and doesn't do much other than ensure an app being installed doesn't turn out to have a payload which attempts not only to root the system, but also insert byte code into the BIOS.

    That is pretty extreme--and rare.

    What is needed is a consortium of proprietary and open source software vendors that can manage with rigid security measures a repository system into which all vetted applications go if approved.

    The likelihood of rogue apps finding their way onto PCs will effectively go to zero percent chance.

    This is how Linux GnuPG keyring protected repositories work and they have long-standing been proven to safeguard software and end-users.

    Linux. The way it should be.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • It could use both

      Even Linux requires that one go outside the repository once in a blue moon. And with Windows it would be more important to have a backup system because every Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle and Google wannabe out there is going to want to host their own repository rather than pay 30% of their gross income to have it hosted. It will get to the point that every time you buy software from a new vendor you'll need to add a new repository. And the more repositories you have, the more unsafe repositories hosted by unscrupulous (or ignorant) people there will be, and you'll need something to protect against that.
      Michael Kelly
      • I think my point is well taken

        You are being a devil's advocate here. The litany of stories surrounding Windows security exploits is filled with stories of unverified sources for easily downloadable executables. That is part of the current Windows user 'mindset'. Just go get it. Don't give it a thought.
        I am not blaming the users here.

        But Linux has done a reasonably good job of addressing a known issue for a LONG time.

        Linux. The way it should be.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • The point I am trying to get at

        is that unless there is a unified location (or set of locations) for ALL Windows executables, you are going to have to allow the user to add more repositories (Linux does allow for this as you know). I don't see a unified location being viable in the long term because of the overhead expense owed to the host that it will incur. And if they DO allow the user to add repositories, then GPG won't be enough, because GPG is only as trustworthy as the person signing it, and if the person signing it is also hosting the repository (or the repository host fails in their job), then you have a serious problem.

        I'm not saying don't do it, nor am I saying it won't help. But I am saying it's not a complete answer to the problem.
        Michael Kelly
  • Windows 8 Product Key

    I plan to go NO FURTHER than Windows 7 for the rest of my life. No reason to be forced into Windows 8, is there?
    UncleRon
    • No reason to be forced into anything

      However, you may choose to do it at some point.
      Michael Kelly
    • Rest of Your Life?

      Do you plan on living only a short time?
      gribittmep
  • Inputting a Product Key to install an Operating System

    is the closest many Windows users get to computing; after that they can feel validated professionals. Why take that away from them ?

    Real Operating Systems don't need that sort of thing...
    Claverhouse
  • Is this really that important?

    Product key if you install from disc or flash drive; not if you download from Windows Marketplace once it is in retail. The main thing most of us tech nerds are missing it pretty simple; this only affects the 1% of us that would actually upgrade our OS. Most regular people only upgrade when they buy a new PC or Mac. I use Mac myself at home and Windows at work; and when I have to help out friends with their own computers inevitability they have no idea what version of Windows or Mac they are using.
    MichaelWells
  • You can bypass product key while installing Windows 8

    there's a will there's a way http://www.windowsvalley.com/install-windows-8-without-product-key/

    plain and simple!
    RKonit