Install Windows 8 without COA sticker

February 14, 2013 at 17:32:34
Specs: Windows 8, Intel i5
Hey, I'm a certified PC technician, but this one has me baffled. I have a friend who got a new PC, which is an HP Pavilion p7-1423w desktop with Windows 8. He wiped it (yes including the recovery partition) so he could put Windows 7 on it without checking with me first. Well that didn't go well because he kept getting BSODs (coming from the integrated graphics adapter I believe because they only occurred after we installed the graphics adapter drivers via Windows Update and again from Intel's website) and no matter what we did with it we could not get them to stop. Well he discovered that the computer he has does not support Windows 7 at all and that only Windows 8 will work on it and so he just decided to go back to that. Someone told him that the product key is probably built into the BIOS because there is no COA sticker on the unit anywhere. Well I bought a copy of Windows 8 Pro for my computer a few months back and so I sent him my ISO that I have for him to burn and use to install Windows 8, but it's asking him for a product key and so neither of us know where to get the key from.

So, here are my questions:

1) Is there a way we can get the product key from the BIOS? He lives out of state from me so I don't have physical access to the computer or I'd poke around in there and see.

2) If we can't get the product key from the BIOS, how else could we get it, or does he have to buy one?

3) I saw on HP's website that you can order recovery disks for his PC. Would this be a possible option, and if so, how would it work since the product keys are unique to every unit of a particular model? Would the recovery software just grab it form the BIOS?

Sorry for such a convoluted questions, but I'm lost at this point.


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February 14, 2013 at 20:01:57
I don't think that the key is in the BIOS.

The first thing I would do is take the computer back, if it's under warranty. Just say I don't know what happened. Demand a new PC.

Windows 7 probably didn't work because of the UEFI in the BIOS but there probably downgrade rights, anyway. Disabling UEFI might work.

You would have to pay for recovery CDs. They might generate a key based on recognition of the hardware.

How do you know when a politician is lying? His mouth is moving.

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February 14, 2013 at 22:48:07
"he discovered that the computer he has does not support Windows 7 at all and that only Windows 8 will work"..."Someone told him that the product key is probably built into the BIOS"

You're a certified tech & you actually believe that? The BIOS does NOT contain the Windows Product Key. And there ARE Win7 drivers available for all the devices (chipset, graphics, audio, network, etc), you just have to spend a little time looking for them. They're available from HP for slightly older systems that used that exact same motherboard with Win7, the Pavilion p6-2171a for example.

Your friend totally eff'd up by wiping out all the partitions before creating the Win8 recovery disks. If he didn't like Win8, why would you suggest reinstalling it? Go with Win7 & spend the time to find the correct drivers.

"he kept getting BSODs"

Spend a little more time troubleshooting, as I said, that system DOES support Win7. Did you do a search for info on the STOP code & error message & confirm that the graphics or graphics drivers were the cause? Did you test the RAM with memtest86?

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February 15, 2013 at 02:55:14
You can obtain Recovery material here from HP.


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