Can't Activate Windows 8 on new hard drive - Acer AC-603g - User may have reset BIOS authenication

Hello All,

 I am a semi-retired PC and electronics tech from way back - and usually don't need to ask for help - preferring to stumble along and learn, but I have one that is a problem now.

  A customers daughter brings me a AXC-603g that had taken a fall off the desk while running.  The Hard disk would not fully initialize nor show any hope of rescue - spinning up a bit then shutting back down.  I explained to them the data would all be lost, and put in another drive - then started learning about UEFI and Windows8 activation from a BIOS data version of the more familar CD-Key or COA code.  

  I have installed both 8 and 8.1 at least once each - and can get them in and running using a code I found that is a "royalty code" according to Microsoft.  But of course it still needs to activate.  Microsoft will not activate it - saying the code must come from ACER.  ACER first said they could not and Microsoft would.  Then Acer says to buy a $44 USB drive that has the recovery image.  From what I am seeing - I think the user may have chosen to reset the factory authentication data in the BIOS setup. No matter what settings I try in BIOS, I can't get Windows to "see" any built in code off the motherboard.  Either its been lost or cleared possibly. 

  Talking to ACER today - they say get the restore USB flash drive, and it will take care of everything - but I ask will this find the Authentication data even if the data was reset?  Sure Sure..  

   Being a bit wary - and knowing the user has little $$ to try something that would be a "maybe" I am asking the folks here.. anyone been in this spot?  Any way to get the UEFI data where Windows8 or 8.1 will "see" and use it?

  Any help or suggestions would be appreciated very much - Thanks!



  • Sharanji
    Sharanji ACE Posts: 4,327 Pathfinder

    If the user has to reinstall the same windows 8 0r 8.1 shipped wiht the computer, the installation process automatically grabs the software product key from the motherboard BIOS with no input from the user.


    Since you are installing a retail version of windows 8 or 8.1 the system prompts for inserting a product key.


    Windows 8, 8.1  systems from Acer are pre-activated from factory. Once the PC is activated, it remains active unless there are significant hardware changes such as motherboard or hard drive replacement. If you re-install Windows on the computer, there is no need for the product key as it is injected on the motherboard from factory.


    Although of no particular value if you still want to know what the current key is there are a number of 3rd party key finders available on the web. However the encryption process used for Windows 8 and 8.1 keys has changed and a number produce the wrong value. Microsoft's own MGADiag tool will correctly extract part of the key and can be used to verify the output of any 3rd party tool for the full key.
    It is very unfortunate that the user had not created a USB recovery media to restore the windows shipped wiht the computer.  if you are unable to activate the product key the best option is to get the USB recovery media from Acer store and restore the computer to factroy settings.

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  • Programmer1971
    Programmer1971 Member Posts: 2

    I was pretty sure I got OEM ISOs to install but they keep asking for activation.  I am just guessing- as this is the first time I have run into such a problem.  My worry still goes to this - is it possible to wipe out the activation code in the motherboard by using the RESET  under the BIOS AUTHENTICATION section?   

       I guess what I am wondering is do these boards let you put in a value and change it as they are built (and during setup perhaps) or is the authentication data a hardcoded value - never to be changed?

      I have been assuming it is like the Dell service tag info- something a tech or the factory would put in - and that if cleared it could prevent a fresh installation grabbing the proper code.  If its just from a serial number in the bios and cant be changed I will try looking for another install ISO to try.  Surely it can't be so difficult to replace a drive, when one fails. 


      I also saw elsewhere where someone said you cant install 8.1 on a machine with an 8.0 activation code - but other places I see where you should be able to upgrade 8.0 to 8.1 without getting a new code. Can you shed some light on that too?


     Thanks so much for your reply!

  • Sharanji
    Sharanji ACE Posts: 4,327 Pathfinder

    The product key is injected at the factory. I have not come across any external source or steps where the product key can be erased and injected with a new one.


    Windows 8.1 use the same product key of windows 8 when upgraded from windows 8 OEM version shipped with the computer. After installing all windows updates for windows 8 you will have the option to upgrade to windows 8.1 for free from Microsoft store.


    Click the Kudos kudos-thumbs-up.png to say “Thanks” for helping! select "Accept Solution" if your issue is resovled.