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Windows 8.1 won't Activate

This problem is occurring on an Inspiron M531R-5535 (mid 2013) delivered with Windows 8.1

After 18 months of glitches and assorted issues, I decided to do a complete re-installation.  I did it within Windows - Settings, Update and Recovery, Recovery, "Remove everything and reinstall Windows."

The process was lengthy, but with no apparent problems. The PC boots and runs fine, but Windows is not Activated.  On the desktop in the lower right corner it says "Windows 8.1, Build 9600.  When I open Control Panel - System, there is the message that Windows is not activated, and to the right is the link "Activate Windows".

I also get a blue Window after boot that has the text "Go to PC settings to activate Windows".  Here is what happens when I click on the button:

1. When I click the button, the desktop appears, and there is the blue "Gear" icon for Settings in the Task Bar.

2. I click the gear icon and the metro "PC Settings" window opens

3. On the left menu at the bottom, I click on "Activate Windows"

4. I'm taken back to the desktop, with the gear icon still there.

This is an infinite loop - Windows never activates.  If I instead click on the "Activate Windows" link on the System page, the blue "PC Settings" window opens for ~2 seconds, then I'm returned right back to the System window. Again, no activation.

So can anyone here advise me on how to do this? Remember, this is not an Upgrade to Windows 8.1. The recovery partition is using Windows 8.1.


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