Ok, so perhaps someone knows this answer as I have talked to Dell and Microsoft about this. Microsoft agrees with me. Dell (afaik) does not know the answer and has suggested various answers.
I attempted to install the original W8 OS using a Dell supplied Windows 8 disk. Instead of using the original hard drive that came with the computer, I wanted to install on another hard drive. With only the replacement hard drive online, I booted with the Dell disk. I attempted install but the OS requested a Product Key (COA). It is my understanding that the Product Key is now embedded in the BIOS (or UEFI if you prefer) and is supposed to be injected in the OS installation. At no time should I see or have access to the key. Luckily for me, I knew the COA from using NirSoft's ProduKey program. I had to manually put in the key to complete installation. After I finished install, I tried to activate the new install but it failed. According to Microsoft the Product Key is tried to the original hard drive and even changing out the hard drive I would have had to request a reactivation with the new hard drive.I have no problem with the answer that Microsoft supplied about activation.
Activation is not in question. Injection of the Product Key by the BIOS is in question.
Microsoft agrees with me, that the Product Key should of been injected by the BIOS into the OS install, regardless of the hard drive. Dell disagrees and says it is tied to the original hard drive, to the systemboard, etc, etc, etc.I proceeded to question that because if the hard drive fails, and they do, how am I supposed to reinstall the operating system? Supposedly there is hash code, along with the Product Key, in the BIOS, however, I cannot find the information regarding that info and useage of the hash code at the time of OS install. All I have read is that the Product Key is now in the BIOS and it gets injected in the OS installation.
So has anyone have had the same problem and hopefully the answer?
1. Transfer old OS to your new disk. It may have similar activation issues, but you will now have an exact copy of the old OS and hopefully could restore it if you want your Windows 7 back.
2. Install new OS (Windows 8.1, if you still want it) on the original hard drive. If Microsoft is correct, activation should work this time.
Installation from Recovery Media should not require a product key however Microsoft made several mistakes with Windows 8 and windows 8.1 installation media.
I assume the DVD was procured from Dell (or bought from eBay). First Microsoft made Windows 8 media reject Windows 8.1 keys and Windows 8.1 media reject Windows 8 keys... If Dell sent a Windows 8 disc out for a system shipped with Windows 8.1 then there will be a problem.
The tool I linked to above gives Windows 8.1 with Update Media that rectifies this mistake and accepts both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 product keys... The only problem with this tool is that Microsoft made the .isos Edition locked. A Windows 8.1 [Edition A] will only work with a Windows 8.1 [Edition A] and Windows 8 [Edition A] key. There are often confusions between Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Single Language Editions for instance.