OT:Clean install OF Windows 8 on SSD - Activation?

Peter Riding wrote on 2/7/2015, 2:07 PM
I have a Dell laptop which reported that its hard drive is in danger of failing. The operating system at the time of purchase was Windows 7. I did a paid upgrade to 8 (now 8.1) ages ago.

I decided to replace the hard drive with an SSD, a Crucial 500gb MX200. I also did a clean install of Windows 8 onto it from a DVD that I bought from Microsoft when I went from 7 to 8. So far so good.

However Windows activation is failing, reporting that the activation key is only valid for upgrades.

Is there any way to get the activation through? Is it not possible to replace a hard drive without having to buy a completely new operating system? The old hard drive has not actually failed yet so I guess I could rewind and use the supplied Acronis software to copy it, then do the switch. I had wanted to leave all the crud behind, hence my clean install.

I was so looking forward to using Vegas on this laptop with the benefit of an SSD :- (



Chienworks wrote on 2/7/2015, 2:46 PM
You can try calling Microsoft's activation hotline and when you finally get a human, explain what you're doing. I've had them take pity on me a couple of times.

The other alternative is to install your Win7 license on the drive first, then upgrade to 8.1 from that.
prairiedogpics wrote on 2/7/2015, 6:53 PM
I had a similar scenario recently...

See the solution I describe here (my username is "dadu007" on the MS forum):


There is another suggested method in the thread, but I would use my solution (last post in the thread).
Peter Riding wrote on 2/8/2015, 2:49 AM
Thanks for the swift response all.

I feared the worst as Microsoft are pretty unequivocal online about having to buy a new copy of the operating system but I thought there must be a better solution, and here is the obvious place to ask as it has no doubt been encountered by many knowledgeable members. I must have had a charmed life as I've never had an operating system hard drive failure in many years of very heavy use :- )

The original Windows activation sticker was attached under the laptop and had suffered abrasion making the key unreadable. I had queried that with Dell but got no-where with them.

I went ahead and reinstalled Windows 7 - without removing the 8 reinstall first - using Dell's recovery disk. To my surprise this automatically added the 7 key which had been on the Dell disk all along. I wish they'd told me that! I then installed 8 again, input the 8 key and all is well. Other than taking forever to install all the updates.

Just like to mention some freeware I found at the time I queried the key with Dell. Magical Jelly Bean Key Finder correctly reported the Windows key and the CD key:


TheHappyFriar wrote on 2/8/2015, 6:29 AM
With MS "upgrade" always meant "upgrade", you NEEDED the old OS. They used to let you put the disc (floppy or CD) in the drive to prove, but from what I could tell now they always want It installed.

That's why I bought as retail copy. Plus it was cheaper then the upgrade. :)
Peter Riding wrote on 2/16/2015, 11:15 AM
I have a followup question if I may, and this seems as good a place as any to ask because I've seen lots of mentions of Vegas re-installs as part of problem solving, so there must be members with good real world experience.

My clean install of Windows 8.1 onto a Crucial SSD went fine.

Crucial supplied a cut down version of backup software called Acronis True Image HD.

I didn't need this but I do want to start using similar software which would enable me to do a partial or full re-install in the event of a serious issue.

Anyone care to comment on their experience of the Acronis full version? Would you recommend an alternative?