Preserving OEM keys/activation when reimaging Windows 8 with K2000
Since we're already paying for OEM licenses when we buy our various Dell systems, we've opted to use those windows licenses as opposed to VL. With Windows 7, this was never an issue as the K2000 scripted install unattend.xml simply pulled the OEM key from the device, and utilized that during the install/activation. This methodology has worked well for the last year+ we've been using the K2.
Flash forward to Windows 8. No amount of tinkering with the unattended script seems to allow this "auto-populate OEM key" behavior to work. Funny enough, When I was initially waiting around for our OEM media to arrive from Dell I grabbed the windows 8.1 ISO from our MSDN account to play with. The Scripted install grabbed the included OEM key from the device, installed it and ran flawlessly, except it (being an MSDN disc) refused to activate with the OEM key.
Just leaving the various fields blank within the unattended file doesn't work, as the image fails almost immediately with a "Cannot read < ProductKey >" error. I don't have a key I can specify in the file, as each machine has it's own key, and those are no longer "stickered" on the product (even if I wanted to go the manual entry route, which I don't)
Is there a way to bring this very useful Win7 unattended process into Windows 8 K2 scripts? Any suggestions are appreciated, as the bosses are really not to pleased with the idea of burning a big pile of already paid for licenses.
The BIOS stores the OEM key. If you make a clean install on an unparticioned HDD with an MSDN installer, it can detect the key. However, the windows edition of the key must match the edition of the installer (Pro, with or without Media Center Pack, Enterprise, etc.). If the two don't match, the installer will prompt to enter the key and activate Windows.