Adventure with OEM desktop pre-staged win 8

Oh the stories I could talk about regarding win 8 pre-loaded on a OEM box.  A few weeks back I picked up a nice desktop (refurb) for under $500.  It’s a 1.5 TB HD, 10 GB ram, 6 core processor.  Besides this being an awesome box with lots of goodies, I can’t believe the price.  Anywho, the reason I like to have such a decent box is play with software, usually the latest and greatest. Any geek usually has a little rouge setup in their house to test things like beta releases or do other crazy stuff they can’t or won’t do in a hosting or enterprise setting. 

When my box arrived, I was pretty geeked.  Being a lifelong server based IT geek, the first thing was to get rid of win8…..or so I thought.  I popped the disk into the drive, booted up, and I got this error….”

“The product key entered does not match any of the Windows images available for installation. Enter a different product key”

I’ve been out of the server OS build business a while, so I searched around and found on new win8 OEM boxes, the license key is embedded to the firmware…smart I’d say.  The down side, there is a particular order checking for the license key.  In my case, using a DVD was something I’ve done in the past on other machines.  Guess, MS wanted to make it a little harder.  Who knows! 

The end result I packed the machine up and set on the shelf for three weeks while I traveled.  It seemed to come down to the point I needed to build an unattended install to get my Server OS to boot to the DVD and look for the license key, bypassing the BIOS lookup.  The unattended install could use DISM or imageX.  Being rusty at building an unattended install, all I wanted to do was load a server OS like I’ve done in the past using a DVD.  I guess this machine wasn’t meant for win 2012 RTM. 

Windows Server 2012 R2 to the rescue, I think.  The Beta version came out when I got back from traveling, I downloaded the iso and was able to get past the activation error.  I went through the BIOS and made sure the legacy boot was enabled, secure boot was disabled.  then I was able to install.  There was some other option in the bios about enter keys.  All I know, if this had not of worked, a flavor of linux would have went on there along with virtual box  or some other virtual hypervisor.   MS, I hope you don’t continue to make things harder for a long time follower.  Luckily, IIS 8.5 had some new features I wanted to try out!  I guess this is a bit of a rant, but overall, the machine is online and I can start to use it.

Cheers and happy geeking!

Steve Schofield
Microsoft MVP – IIS