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Microsoft Offering Free Media Center Installs for Windows 8 Pro Users

For a limited time, Microsoft is letting Windows 8 Pro customers install Media Center at no cost.

Windows Media Center acts as an entertainment hub for PC users, supporting TV, movies and music playback. In May, Microsoft announced that Media Center would cost extra for Windows 8 PC buyers. The plan was for Media Center to be delivered bundled with PCs as sold by original equipment manufacturers or it would be available separately as an optional download.

On Monday, Microsoft announced that Media Center is available for free to Windows 8 Pro licensees, but this offer is only valid from Oct. 26, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2013. Windows 8 Pro users need to download a product key from Microsoft at this page to add the program, which installs via Windows 8's "add features" controls.

The deal is limited to one product key per e-mail address. While the addition of Media Center would seem to be a consumer offering, Microsoft may be extending it to business licensees, subject to the one product key per e-mail address limitation. Here's how Microsoft's FAQ describes the deal:

"The promotion is for individual customers like students, home users, and enthusiasts. Organizations can be eligible subject to this maximum limit per organization."

One of the benefits of having Media Center is that users will have access to DVD playback. While it's somewhat surprising, Microsoft's announcement in May explained that Windows Media Player for Windows 8 won't support DVD playback at all. Instead, Microsoft expects its customers to use some third-party application (or Media Center) to play DVDs. Another surprise announced at that time is that Windows RT devices, which run on ARM hardware, won't have Windows Media Player at all because Microsoft did not build a version of the Player to run on Windows RT systems. Similarly, Windows RT systems, such as the currently available Surface RT tablets, don't have Media Center.

Microsoft sells three Windows 8 editions -- Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise, with the latter edition available to volume licensees. The Pro edition adds some features, such as Bitlocker, encryption and Group Policy support, that pertain more to business users. Those Windows 8 users who want to get Media Center must first upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, which costs $69.99 for a limited time (from Oct. 26, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2013). With that upgrade in place, the Media Center addition is then available for free within the offer's limited time period.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 Marlon San Diego CA

I just bought a window phone yesterday, I trying o access the planning center online, i can get in but the player is not working everuthing works just fine except for the audio, it wont play. what can I do?

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 Robert Phelps United States

So what do we do now? I also have my code, tried to use it back in January, would not except it. Now VD Center is gone and no reference to it. Sure wish I had never upgraded. Nothing but troubles since day of instillation.

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 steve laursen calimesa ca.

need to watch and listen to dvd and cd

Sun, Jan 6, 2013

Download VLC and play DVD's. simple.

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 Jimmi in Brooklyn Brooklyn, NY

Also getting cannot process your order message.

Wed, Jan 2, 2013 vijaykumar India

got upgraded to windows 8 pro and requested microsoft for the media center key which they were to provide free till 31 jan 2013. repeated attempts but the reply is 'we couldn't process your order". What to do now?

Mon, Dec 31, 2012 Brian USA

"We couldn't process your order." for at least 3 days tried different emails. Tried different IP. I'm supposed to be eligible for 5 licenses yet can’t get even one. Your system is broken.

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 SteveC

So, if I read their terms correctly... If we have to reinstall the computer after Jan 31, 2013 then the MediaCenter key (providing it works once installed and doesn't give the dreaded "Codec not found" error) won't be available for reinstall without paying for it. Some incentive to upgrade... @80s Rocker, Some people, like myself, don't have room for a DVD player or stereo to watch movies, or travel, so hooking the laptop to the TV for DVD playback is a realistic choice for many. And, those who film, edit, and publish their movies on disk (not just Youtube) also need playback capability.

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 Abdulla india

i installed windows 8 pro and windows center media build 9200. when i did advance resetting yesterday, i cannot activate the product. pls help me

Tue, Dec 25, 2012 Daniela Raducanu Romania

Merry Christmas !

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 Dave Ipswich, Qld, Australia

Tried to get the key, keeps coming back telling me "We couldn't process your order". Seems the biggest mistake I made was trying to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro so I could use Hyper V, cause even that won't work. Microsoft really love stuffing things around and changing things, don't they???

Fri, Dec 14, 2012 lallen2064

Not including DVD playback with Win8 is incredibly short sighted and foolish on Microsoft's part. Why call it Media Player on Win8 if it can play the one of the most dominant Media formats (DVD). It is probably not that big of a deal in the business/corporate market, but to consumers it is assumed that they can play CDs and DVDs on their PCs/Laptops. Of course there are plenty of third party apps... It is just the Microsoft mentality and how they deal with the consumer market that is so baffling at times.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 Darryl

Well...I got the Media Center key, it just won't install on my machine, something (I think) about ehrecvr not starting, then it rolls back and I'm back where I started. I have no idea how to fix this.

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 80s Rocker

Jon Harris: If your PC/Laptop main function is to play DVD, then you just have a high-end DVD / Portable DVD player.Most users I know can live without DVD playback. They use their PC/Laptops to: browse the internet, facebook, twitter, Work processing, Create presentations, Accounting .... So if I were you since all you do is watch DVD's, take not only Win8 back but also the PC/Laptops since you don't need all the other main pc functions. You can then put the money towards a nice protable DVD player for around $200 dollars. Oh, by the way you can play your CD's on Win8 without any issues (You don't need media center). Otherwise just get Win8 Pro, get the key mentioned above, and get Media center.

Wed, Dec 12, 2012 JOHN HARRIS hampton, GA 30228

Right now I am very frustrated with windows 8. I can not play my dvds, cds successfully. What the point of upgrading to windows 8? I want my money back as soon as possible! Here I can't access or play my dvds!!!!!! What was your point in upgrading if you can not provide main pc funtionallity!!!!! Go figure.

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