• Windows 8.1 Enterprise Upgrade to Windows 10 Professional

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    I have a i7 4770K Haswell system that is about seven years old running windows 8.1 x64 Enterprise OS. As I look ahead to January 2023 end of security support for the current OS, I am thinking whether I should try to extend the life of the system by a few years by upgrading to Windows 10 Pro OS. The enterprise version of the OS was installed by the system builder and I do no have access to the MS volume licensing program and so I have no path forward to W10 Enterprise. I think (am considering) purchasing a W10 Pro OEM Product key and using the MS Media Creation Tool to download W10 Pro ISO from MS. I would use the paid activation key to do an in place upgrade to W10.

    My question relates to being uncertain as to whether I can perform an “in place” upgrade which will preserve my files and apps, or whether, I will be required to perform a total clean install and totally rebuild the system. Because the current OS is W10 Enterprise, there is a little ambiguity as to whether there will a problem. I was going to build a new system but given the current cost of pc components, particularly graphics cards, I am looking at options to buy some more time for the current build. Any inputs would be appreciated. THX



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    • #2407058

      It’s probably worth checking if you have a BIOS key (wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey) first, as the other option could be to install that (likely Windows 8 or 8.1 OS and then upgrade to Windows 10.

      Note if you have the recovery partition on disk you might get by (you haven’t said what the machine itself is; a no brand tower is far less likely to have a BIOS key or recovery partition.) Note to install Windows 8.0 you need a staging key (Core: 334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT; Professional: XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB ) then you install 8.1 and activate that with the BIOS key, both times using slmgr rather than GUI interface, and then you might be able to use the result to get Windows 10..

      Technically your machine would not qualify for OEM as a new license (not new hardware – the hardware footprint will at least be associated with the volume license on Microsoft’s activation server at the date that was activated so activation will detect the machine is not a new build,  though it should activate if the hardware was originally activated at the manufacturer’s factory with OEM before the enterprise product was loaded). A full retail license is a little pricey so investigating if you have a BIOS license is worthwhile (Windows 7 generally didn’t use them).

      Perhaps consider trying the install and upgrade operation(s) on a gash drive (with your current one removed completely so it’s safe to take you to end of support) to see how far you can get. You can maybe clone your drive to the gash one but BE CAREFULL – it’s so easy to clone the wrong way, so be sure to make a backup of your drive to media before you start, and try to restore that to the gash drive as with a “drive to drive” clone you only get one chance, and you can lose it all if you fail.

      A lot will depend on the machine’s configuration and Windows activation history over time so the short cut here is to get a spare drive, install Windows 10 on it, and see if it will activate or not..as the Windows 10 activation will check the licenses registered to the machine’s hardware at Microsoft and activate if it finds a qualifying license there, which is why you don’t get forced to provide a product key before installing.

      If it fails to activate consider buying Windows 10 while it’s still available as Windows 11 is heading to needing far better firmware support than an older platform can provide, or alternatively start saving for a new rig as yours will be that bit older by then. Also consider the wear on your drive – they all give up eventually, so if it failed tomorrow? Perhaps time to review the backup forums as it seems you literally don’t have a license you can use to reinstall..

      The link for your CPU specifics is broken so maybe check later for end of support at https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000022396/processors.html

      As to the upgrade, assume nothing will be kept unless you keep it off machine yourself (or of course keep the old drive unchanged as suggested). I suspect the upgrade you propose won’t actually work well though I would anticipate if you get to Windows 10 enterprise, you should be able to remove the existing license and add the new one with SLMGR and reboot, and Windows update should set any software right and then activation should just happen if valid credentials are given BUT its seldom that easy.. I only had that work with Windows 10 pro to Windows 10 workstation, but if you think about it if that didn’t work… you’d never be able to apply version updates easily as Microsoft only supply certain products in their ISO..

      For example of a potential further issue, activation of office beyond 2000 has been predicated on the activation information for Windows (to prevent installations of office using the same office key being used on different Windows machines resulting in activation of copies of office in use numbering beyond the limits of the licensing terms) so your office activation (if you have it..) seems unlikely to survive the upgrade.

      The enterprise license is used (as with office 365 and the rest) to enable organisations to run fleets of machines with the same software SKU with less management – the organisation pays for what the activation server can detect running with those keys (Windows and Office), the organisation has just failed to kill your license. They could decide to stop paying for Windows 8.* as they don’t use it anymore – guess what happens next time your Windows install checks the activation server for their software (which is determined by the product key) in that event… though hopefully they just paid the upgrade for one seat, rather than a subscription model (in either  case there is no “upgrade” option anyway (even 8.0 to 8.1!), unless you can access the account as businesses often need to manage version upgrades.)



    • #2407077

      As I recall you need either a win10 enterprise license or you have to flip yourself down to 8.1 professional.

      How to downgrade Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise to Pro and get the free windows 10 upgrade – YouTube

      Guide to downgrade Windows 8.1 Enterprise to Professional:

      1. Open regedit.exe and navigate to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

      2. Change ProductName to Windows 8.1 Professional

      3. Change EditionID to Professional

      4. Navigate now to KHLM\Software\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

      5. Change ProductName to Windows 8.1 Professional

      6. Change EditionID to Professional

      7. Close regedit.exe (no need to restart)

      8. Start the Windows 8.1 Pro Installation

      Susan Bradley Patch Lady

    • #2407086

      @Susan etal, thank you for your thoughts on the matter. I was aware of the registry hack to change to the W8.1 Pro version. My situation is that I have W8.1 x64 Enterprise installed and validly activated when I check activation status. The only product key I have for W8.1 is the key activating the enterprise version as installed. I was not thinking about trying to get a free upgrade from the current OS to W10; what I am thinking about is buying a valid retail product key for W10 Pro and then getting the appropriate W10 ISO file download via the MS Media Creation Tool. I believe when you start the application, you are asked if you have an activation key to input. I was thinking the paid key would allow me to proceed and that the option of doing an ‘in place” upgrade retaining all files and apps would be offered. I thought this might work because the current OS is validly activated and the upgrade has its own separate paid activation key. In effect I would be doing what GWX was forcing on users some years back but without getting the free upgrade. It seems like it should work but I am not certain and cannot find a specifically on point statement from Microsoft.

    • #2407173

      By way of confirmation (not that it’s actually needed,  but it got me motivated to get the ISO for the OS I’m running so its not all bad), the attachment shows the packages in the 21H2 ISO from Microsoft’s download site.

      As an aside, note that Windows 10 Workstation I mentioned is a version of Pro tweaked specifically for the Xeon processor range as the CPU core population in that hardware is beyond the remit of the standard pro license. The workstation includes the supplemental core licensing so the end user doesn’t need to retain and install a separate CPU license to use the chip fully. (https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/all/can-you-use-an-intel-xeon-with-windows-10/04df990b-bddc-4cf9-a5b6-220a4dbb9bd5).

    • #2407290

      If you downgrade your 8.1 to 8.1 pro, and then install the 10 pro ISO (without purchasing anything), I am pretty confident it will do an upgrade install, and will appear as licensed and activated.  If you have any problems, create a bootable key of the 10 pro ISO, and boot from that, but still choose upgrade or keep apps and data.


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