I have somewhat of an interesting problem that might not have a solution, but it never hurts to ask. I am trying to find my Windows 8 Activation key that came with the operating system when it was pre-installed on my Microsoft Surface Pro (first generation).

Last week I went ahead and upgraded to Windows 10 Technical Preview on the surface tablet, however now I am trying to revert and re-install windows 8. I assume that when I try to do this I will need to provide an activation key.

Does anyone know if this is possible? I downloaded a program (https://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/) and it shows my Windows 10 CD Key, but would that be the same as my old Windows 8 activation key?

Let me know if you guys have any ideas - thanks!


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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your product key is contained in the ACPI table SLIC. It's human-readable there. If you use the correct install media, it should be automatically detected and entered, no need for you to do anything.

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Nirsoft's ProduKey, http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html, might be of help. Also, is there a sticker on the Surface Pro or its packaging, if you still have it, with the key?

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You can simply use the "rollback option" that appears after you restart your computer. I've tried it before and it reverted my Windows 10 install to Windows 8.1 with no problems.

Also, my current Windows 10 Tech Preview serial is the same as my original Windows 8.1 license key, and I assume this is the same for everybody who has upgraded their systems through Windows Update (not with a complete ISO and clean install). If the program provided by @DrMoishe Pippik doesn't work, you may want to use Speccy Portable to write it down somewhere before doing the rollback:

Screenshot of Speccy showing my license key

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Most keyfinders will pull your Windows product key and your Internet Explorer key. If you've lost your Win 7/8 key and you don't have a label or the label is destroyed, you can try using your Internet Explorer key. I've found that the IE key is always the same as your Windows key, but for some reason, upgrading to Windows 10 doesn't change the key over when you pull it with a keyfinder.

Edit: for use in the case that you have passed the one-month rollback period and your physical key media is destroyed.

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