Here is how to get the Windows 8.1 ISO and create a USB install stick

Are you bummed that you can't get your hands on the Windows 8.1 ISO file since you don't have an MSDN or Technet account? Well, thanks to a simple little trick, you too, can join the cool kids and get your hands on the ISO to create your own install media. This trick is quite handy if you need to update many machines because without doing the following, you would have to download the Windows 8.1 files on each machine, with this trick, you only have to download them once.

The trick, which is actually quite simple and detailed below, and it allows you to create your own media to install Windows 8.1 at a later time without having to install a previous version of Windows 8 first.

  • As soon as it starts downloading, close the installer assistant from the (X) in the top-right corner.
  • Go back to the Microsoft Windows upgrade page, click Install Windows 8.1, and download the newer installer assistant.
  • Run the newer install assistant.

  • When the download is complete, you can choose to install the OS right-then, or you can choose the option: Install by creating media. This option will allow you to create a USB/DVD media.

  • Select USB drive if you want to install the installation files to a USB stick or select the ISO option if you want to obtain the ISO.

Enjoy.

This will also solve the “Insert Media: Some files are missing…” issue while using Refresh your PC or Remove everything in Windows 8.1.

H/T to Pureinfotech.com for putting together the tutorial.

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I already upgraded to 8.1. I downloaded 8.1 as described above choosing the "install by creating media" option, burned a DVD and USB. I just never proceeded to install. My existing 8.1 install was unaffected.

unable to downloa.it always says can't connect at the moment please check your internet connection....iz there any solution??

OK, so confused by all the posts here. I have three machines, all on Win 8 Pro w/MC, the $14.99 installs. I got a TechNet sub and have the ISO of the 8.1 Pro put on a thumbdrive. Can I use that thumbdrive to update the 8.0 --> 8.1 without having to DL the 3.5 GB update three freaking times?

Just tried that using the 8.1 ISO disc created but it won't accept my 8.0 Pro key so I guess 8.1 will take just specific keys for this newer version.
PS. Hey Microsoft why are you so mf?

does that really work? I wonder how 8.1 activation would be possible with legit 8.0 codes afterwards if they are not accepted by 8.1 installer in advance..

macstorm said,
does that really work? I wonder how 8.1 activation would be possible with legit 8.0 codes afterwards if they are not accepted by 8.1 installer in advance..

Yes, you can install using the generic key then activate using your purchased key. Other option is to edit the ISO by adding the EI.cfg file as described in an earlier post by Robin Tick. This eliminates the need to enter a key during the install. Once installed use your purchased key to activate.

Tried that several times before to no avail, install stucks on "setting up devices 100%" stage all the time. Tried everything, installing after a clean boot, removing ALL 3rd party drivers, starting all over putting 8.1 from the scratch... everything!

I'm so glad I found this post. I was so mad that microsoft didn't supply iso files to legit owners of their software. I don't want to have to go through the process of installing Windows 7 (as I purchased the upgrade version of windows pro), then install, windows 8, then have to download a 3gig file every time I want to do a fresh install of windows. What a mess. Cannot even do a refresh as the update from windows store removes the refresh files. Thanks for the instructions discovered by accident apparently but beneficial for all. ISO and usb stick backed up for my next clean install.

Thanks Brad, your procedure works fine.

Some points I would emphasize:

1) If you can't make the media on the same machine as you are having problems with, use a similar type of machine, e.g. 32-bit or 64-bit.
2) The refresh removes all programs and config files (including Office), so make a backup of any install files you will need to recover your programs. Document/data files are not deleted. In particular backup your Outlook files (*.pst, etc.) and any other config files you will need to restore programs after the refresh.
3) The machine will, to all intents and purposes, be restored to a clean install state but with your personal files still intact. So be prepared for a lot of reinstalling of your old programs.

Now that my machine is refreshed, it is a joy to use :-)

i have already upgraded to 8.1 pro with wmc using store.but i want the iso file to refresh my pc.and when i tried the way u told,an error is eccoured.it gives error saying couldn't connect right now.please check your internet connectio.plz tell what to do now.

satyapriya said,
i have already upgraded to 8.1 pro with wmc using store.but i want the iso file to refresh my pc.and when i tried the way u told,an error is eccoured.it gives error saying couldn't connect right now.please check your internet connectio.plz tell what to do now.

I got that message and forgot I had peerblock running which blocked microsoft apparently. Make sure you don't have any blocklist software running or you are using a vpn or something similar.

Cool! now don't have to clean install windows 8 , then update it then upgrade to windows 8.1 which for some reason wont run properly have to arm twist windows services to get it work, already did it on my laptop , now can install 8.1 anytime on my pc and would be able to reinstall anytime on other machines.

Here is my story: I got Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit legally, then I bought Win8 Pro 64-bit upgrade at the beginning for $30. Yesterday I finally found strength inside of me to finally upgrade to Win8. So I wen to MS page where you can choose between two upgrade apps, one for Win8, another for Win8.1. I downloaded the Win8.1 of course and did the upgrade. Everything fine so far. Win8 started up and what I see...only Win8, no Win8.1 installed. OK, so I installed all updates available via Windows Update, had to do it three times, because it's just not possible to download an install all available patches once, there were some new available updates after every reboot. Never mind, done. Then installed latest drivers, everything fine as well, no issues, all components works just fine. Finally I saw Win8.1 in Store so I tried gave it a shot, but it ended at 50% with "Something happened and we cannot continue...". Tired several times during few next hours, no lock at all. Then, a bit later, I found option to buy Media Center for 10$ (of course it's hidden in Properties of My Computer, not visible in Store) and I decided to buy it. After two reboots installation successfully done. I tried Win8.1 upgrade again, however, now I am getting error message "Something happened and we cannot continue..." at the beginning when I hit Download button...

http://s10.postimg.org/d887o7vq1/win81upgrade.jpg

Edited by joeqr, Oct 21 2013, 6:36am :

Thanks a ton! I have been looking for this option... It didn't like my Win8 Pro key for the 8.1 download, so I had to choose Windows 8, enter the key and step through until it started downloading then close that and go into the 8.1 download. Then, it worked!

Isn't the 8.1 Preview keys going to expire by end of December? If so, wouldn't that mean this method won't work later? or is the ISO still bootable without any key until after install and you can enter a 8.0 key?

You can still use the ISO or USB stick. Just create a ei.cfg file (see earlier post from Robin Tick) and add it to the root directory of your USB stick. It works on the ISO as well but requires some work.

+1 User "Robin Tick" also just posted how to do this above me in the comments. Unsure how the slightly differing methods affect installing.

paesan said,
Thanks, worked just as advertised. Why is MS creating such an issue to get this ISO.

I don't understand it either.
Why can't they just let us enter any valid Windows 8 key?

That's a nice little hack for people who'd like to source the ISO officially. However you'd still need one of the unofficial install keys as the 8 key (as explained above) is not recognised during a fresh install (unless you have an installation of 8 already which is considered an upgrade).

I get the exact same error, through a VPN, from multiple computers, even a computer I remote into in another country, I just can't seem to make it work.

Solved the problem with this little trick:

1. Download both the 8.0 and 8.1 installers
2. Launch the 8.0 installer [Windows8-Setup.exe]
3. Enter your key for 8.0 and begin downloading
4. Immediately pause your download at 1% (don't quit at the estimating time screen), then exit
5. Launch your 8.1 installer [WindowsSetupBox.exe]
6. You'll get an error saying element can't be found or something like that, you're ok - just close out
7. Re-launch WindowsSetupBox.exe
???
You're downloading 8.1

Found on Reddit, Thanks to redditorfor0seconds for this.

Delete any files that are created in the following folder:
C:\Users\YOUR USER NAME\AppData\Local\Temp
reboot and try again first with the Windows 8.0 installer.

I wish I could tell you it's worked, like all the other times I tried, in that order, it doesn't connect, I even tried again from a machine I've never tried from before, BTW the installer puts stuff in %localappdata%\Microsoft\WebSetup also, so deleting those in addition to the Temp files... still doesn;'t fix it, I'm open to more suggestions.

[quote=Make sure you're on the PC you want to upgrade. If you're updating to Windows 8.1, this PC must be running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 Preview. If you already have the latest version of Windows 8 installed on your PC, you can update to Windows 8.1 in the Windows Store for free[/quote]

i got win 8.1 installed already through MSDN leak


1) Rather than me post SHA1 hashes of the official Windows 8.1 ISOs, just go to TechNet (http://technet.microsoft.com/s...mp;PageIndex=0&FileId=0) or MSDN and look for the "Windows 8.1 (multiple editions) (x64) - DVD" or "Windows 8.1 (multiple editions) (x86) - DVD" listings, depending on whether you want 32-bit or 64-bit. These ISOs include Windows 8.1 (Core) and Windows 8.1 Pro. Save the SHA1 hash.

2) If you poke around on some torrent sites, you can easily find the Windows 8.1 RTM x64 English DVD, which is the official, untouched x64 DVD that includes Core and Pro. I'm sure you can find the x86 (32-bit) version as well and probably other language versions too. If possible, before downloading any ISO file, see what others are saying about the SHA1 hash. You want the SHA1 hash to match with what you got from TechNet or MSDN. Worst case, download an ISO that you think is what you are looking for and check that the SHA1 hash matches with the official ISOs. For SHA1 creation and checking, I've used this (http://code.kliu.org/hashcheck/) for years, but HashTab (http://implbits.com/HashTab.aspx) has also been around for years and it works well too. There are also tons of other solutions out there.

*** If the hash of the ISO you download matches the hash from Microsoft, then the ISO has not been changed and you have nothing to worry about.

ValaXx said,
SAME HERE! Someone please download the iso and upload it somewhere. I dont trust the torrents!

NO. It's against Neowin's rules to post links, and it's against Microsoft ToS.

@ValaXx -- Windows 8.1 RTM was done over 2 months ago, just not made available via TechNet or MSDN right away and of course not made available to the general public until 10/17/2013. Once you install the RTM version, there are Windows Updates available as well as lots of "metro" app updates.

For those who purchased OEM copies of Windows 8 (like I did), you're SOL with this. The installers won't take an OEM key. They want retail keys only.

Yes, indeed. Just tried that on Windows 8 Single Language OEM, no luck. The problem is, there isn't a 'generic' SL key found on the net, so there's no option for clean installation of Windows 8.1. I wonder if there's going to be Single Language SKU at all for Windows 8.1.

I found a fix for the OEM key problem.
The installer lets you download an ISO but you can also create a USB stick installer.
If you have either you can do a clean instal of 8.1, next comes the problem.

After you boot from your burned ISO or USB stick the clean instal refuses to start if you don`t enter a 8.1 key, which like me you don`t have because we bought 8.0 OEM keys to avoid this EXACT issue amiright ?

Anyway, the fix is here but I`ll summarize: http://www.jmedved.com/2013/09...or-8-without-a-product-key/

8.1 does not allow you to do a clean instal with a 8.0 key, but you CAN activate 8.1 with a 8.0 key once you are past that hurdle, crazy right ?
I recommend making a USB stick installer, then go to the sources folder, in there create a .txt file with notepad with the contents:

[EditionID]
Professional
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

This is assuming you use the pro edition like me.
Next save that file as ei.cfg in the sources folder, this makes the installer skip the key check !
You can instal 8.1 without a key and when you are done it asks you to remove the USB stick, it reboots, and starts the OOBE (out of box experience).

This asks you for a key again but this time it DOES accept your 8.0 OEM key and activates windows without any issue.
When you finally get a desktop you can check the system window, it will tell you Windows is activated.

The final problem is that this gave me a non-functional 300MB recovery partition created by the installation proces, that still did not allow me to use refresh/reset, still missing files.

The USB stick installer you create however does allow you to refresh/reset when plugged in, but this does not restore your recovery partition, but you can use the feature.

You need a placeholder key to be able to install 8.1. There are two types of keys, one for the normal version and one for the Pro version.
334NH-RXG76-64THK-C7CKG-D3VPT for Core
XHQ8N-C3MCJ-RQXB6-WCHYG-C9WKB for Pro.
These keys are generic placeholder keys and aren't used to make illegal copies work.

Once it has been installed, you can enter your original (and legit) Windows 8 key and then activate it. It's insane that they won't allow all Windows 8 keys.


I was unable to write to the USB-stick, it just didn't want to work. It said that it didn't have permission.
So I picked the ISO-option.

To make a USB-stick bootable:
Start DISKPART as administrator.

Familiarize yourself with the tool with the HELP and LIST commands.
Select the USB-memory stick. (Be 100% sure that the correct disk is selected. Any mistake and your precious data is gone, forever!)
Use the 'clean' command. Then type 'create partition primary' and then select the new partition and then use the command 'format quick fs=fat32' and then the command 'active'.
Exit DISKPART.

Now, extract all the files from the ISO-file to the USB-stick.
If you have a UEFI motherboard then the stick is ready to be booted.
If you do not have UEFI motherboard then use the Bootsect.exe program to write a bootsector to the memory stick ( Example: Bootsect /NT60 X: ). You can do this step if you're unsure if you have a UEFI motherboard.
UEFI motherboards will prefix the USB-stick with UEFI if it detects a UEFI bootloader. If UEFI boot option is available then boot from that.
Windows installer wants to convert your harddrive partition table to GPT, allow this. GPT has native support for very large disks and partitions and supports more than 4 partitions per disk and the partition table has mirror at the end of the disk I case of read error. No special tools or drivers for disks beyond 2 terabytes

Still unable to boot?
Enable or set "Legacy USB Support" to Auto in your BIOS/UEFI menu. Save, reboot and try again.

I think it is criminal that you have no likes for what essentially summarises 5 hours of googling for most people. This post deserves an article of its own.

I have seen quite a few articles out there that tell me all this, but they are not very well written, and many look very fishy with 100 pieces of ads or use third party tools.
I would write an article about it but I'm not sure how to write and where to publish.
I skipped some details to make people actually look into what they are doing rather than just copy and paste and have their precious data deleted.
Selecting the wrong disk and partition is not fun.

I scratched my head and searched the web a whole day to get it to work without relying on third party tools. I do not like having to use third party tools when it can be done out of the box in Windows.
They even changed install.wim to install.esd and that alone confused me.
I will not provide the ISO to the general public.
I don't know if you can download 8.1 from Microsoft using the placeholder keys.
I screwed up with the downloading on my machine and I was unable to retry because I couldn't find a way to clean up the downloader's meta data.
Has anyone figured that out?

But now I have a fresh 8.1 install on my machine and it's blazing fast. It's faster than 8 was when it was freshly installed.

You can make Windows 7 and 8 installer boot from USB as well.
Perfect for cleaning your laptop that doesn't have a CD/DVD reader.
If you have a DVD, you can do same thing. Just copy the files from the disc instead from extracting the files from an ISO-file.

Radium said,
I don't know if you can download 8.1 from Microsoft using the placeholder keys.

The method provided in the OP worked for me, no PH keys needed.

I replaced my Win8 USB stick with a Win8.1 one, and created sources/ei.cfg as per Robin Tick's instructions (though I haven't tested it yet because both my Win8 computers were upgraded already).

Radium said,
I screwed up with the downloading on my machine and I was unable to retry because I couldn't find a way to clean up the downloader's meta data.
Has anyone figured that out?
Not 100% sure what you meant by meta data, but issues I had with the Win8 downloader back in the day would be fixed on a reboot.


PS: I agree with everything else you said. While having commands there is nice, some commands can't be included without either using placeholder data or "fake" drive letters that, on some users' systems, may match real drive letters.

Plus, it's not like these commands are as complex as, say, recompiling an application in a *nix environment.

Windows 8 installer assistant says "This product is not available in your country". This also happens when I use a VPN. Any ideas?

Why can't I use my Windows 8 key that I received from the Windows Upgrade Offer. Also won't accept my free Windows 8 Media Center Pack offer key

I've created a Windows 8.1 x64 Pro bootable USB key, but can't install as my keys aren't accepted. Any tips?

piknik67 said,
Why can't I use my Windows 8 key that I received from the Windows Upgrade Offer. Also won't accept my free Windows 8 Media Center Pack offer key

I've created a Windows 8.1 x64 Pro bootable USB key, but can't install as my keys aren't accepted. Any tips?

Windows 8 keys won't work with the Windows 8.1 media. You must use one of the available Windows 8.1 generic keys to do the upgrade (they won't activate) then go back and change the key after install. Use the base key first then apply your MCE key. Some people went right for their MCE key first and found themselves stuck for some reason.

Note: If you use the store upgrade method it doesn't change your key and it doesn't prompt for one either. Only the install iso prompts for one.

If you create a bootable thumbdrive, you can create a new file in the sources folder called ei.cfg with the following in it:

[EditionID]
Professional
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

This will make it ask for a key after installation instead of before, and it accepts windows 8 keys.

Is it that easy? I just ordered a USB stick to dedicate to Windows 8.1 so I can directly reinstall to 8.1 and have my recovery & reset features back.

This is what annoys me about Microsoft. They offer a horrible way like this to create install media when they could just offer an ISO or self extracting archive in a simple one step process. Have the user put their key into a form on the site to validate and then download the ISO. Having to do things this way is so frustrating and just gives off the impression Microsoft want to make life as difficult as possible for their users.

This actually downloads the iso, it's just a downloader app for the iso that allows you to resume and accelerate the download through their CMS.

I had such intention, but my fragile heart was still trembling from my last post being removed, don't want to get a ban hammer.

FaiKee said,
I had such intention, but my fragile heart was still trembling from my last post being removed, don't want to get a ban hammer.

Just PM me otherwise, this is also an official MS method too

trip21 said,
Is their any way to get a download of 8.1 for RT since it's been yanked from the store?

Have to wait for them to work out the problem they've run into and repost it.

trip21 said,
Is their any way to get a download of 8.1 for RT since it's been yanked from the store?

I would wait, because for some people it 'bricks' the RT due to a firmware issue or something.. normally you get the firmware update via WU, restart > then Windows 8.1 update, but something has been going wrong for some people and that's why it was yanked.

GP007 said,

Have to wait for them to work out the problem they've run into and repost it.

Going to be a long couple of weeks I guess. Can't believe how bad Microsoft pooched this one!!

trip21 said,
Can't believe how bad Microsoft pooched this one!!

It's embarrassing. With 8.1, MS have to get it to work with a ridiculous amount of different hardware... But with RT 8.1 all they have is a very small and limited amount of hardware it has to work on, yet they still ****ed it up with it bricking some devices.

NoClipMode said,

It's embarrassing. With 8.1, MS have to get it to work with a ridiculous amount of different hardware... But with RT 8.1 all they have is a very small and limited amount of hardware it has to work on, yet they still ****ed it up with it bricking some devices.

There are several Windows RT devices out there, using millions of devices attached to them. This isn't like an iPad with three versions of hardware and about 20 devices that can attach to it.

NoClipMode said,

It's embarrassing. With 8.1, MS have to get it to work with a ridiculous amount of different hardware... But with RT 8.1 all they have is a very small and limited amount of hardware it has to work on, yet they still ****ed it up with it bricking some devices.

Perhaps it's because today's programmers are more focused on their music/Facebook/Twitter accounts than their work. In the 80s/early 90s, you we're lucky to have an internet connection at your desk.

I still find it strange how long Windows 8.1 took to develop - the new features are fairly minor. Some I could probably implement well within in a day.

NoClipMode said,

But with RT 8.1 all they have is a very small and limited amount of hardware it has to work on, yet they still ****ed it up with it bricking some devices.

One of which is Microsofts own device FFS!!!

68k said,
Perhaps it's because today's programmers are more focused on their music/Facebook/Twitter accounts than their work. In the 80s/early 90s, you we're lucky to have an internet connection at your desk.

I still find it strange how long Windows 8.1 took to develop - the new features are fairly minor. Some I could probably implement well within in a day.

And I assume you don't know the last damn thing about being a programmer. In the 80's/early 90's they didn't need to worry about so many things and know so many different programming languages, IDE's, tools, servers, services, libraries, apis, platforms, techniques, methodologies, hardware variations etc. Hell, even when I first started programming 15 years ago (and I'm still fairly fresh compared to some) it was leaps and bounds easier to get things done than today (talk about trying hard not to become a schizophrenic sometimes)...

68k said,
Perhaps it's because today's programmers are more focused on their music/Facebook/Twitter accounts than their work. In the 80s/early 90s, you we're lucky to have an internet connection at your desk.

I still find it strange how long Windows 8.1 took to develop - the new features are fairly minor. Some I could probably implement well within in a day.

Obviously you have never shipped a piece of software in your life.