I wiped my OEM installed copy of windows from my ASUS laptop (to install Linux) and deleted the recovery partition. Also, the key is missing because it rubbed of the sticker. I wanted to put Windows on in addition to Linux.
- Use Linux to extract the key from your laptop firmware. It's still in there, and that is how the OEM disk gets it when you re-install. It just takes a single command run as root to get at it. With that key you can then install a generic copy of Windows which you can get from Microsoft. So either boot up linux on the computer or run it from a live disk (no install required). Then run sudo hd /sys/firmware/acpi/tables/MSDM
- Next go and download the installer for your version of Windows. In my case I needed windows 8. This could get into a bunch of other issues since the installer I could get from MS is really an 8.1 installer which may not take my 8 OEM key. The solution in that case may be to install with a generic key first and then swap in my OEM key. The subject is well explained in this reddit post. I lucked out though, and it picked up my OEM key no problem (this may have been because I upgraded to 8.1 at some point in the past).
- Now install and enjoy.
- And if you are still in the Win 7 or 8 upgrade window, maybe consider upgrading to Windows 10.