[SOLVED] – how to reinstall windows with product key I paid for

I have a dell inspiron 15 (3521) laptop. The HD crapped out on me. I bought a new one and proceeded to re-install windows 8.1 pro on it. During the re-installation, I was not prompted for the product key which I paid for several months back. I am worried that (like my desktop) all of a sudden I will get the message "product key expired". No matter what I have tried, i cannot get this new installation to accept the key I bought. Why? 

Often the only people who can help with activation issues are MIcrosoft so I would contact them and see if they can fix it for you. 

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