If you’ve recently upgraded to Windows 8, you probably have the Pro edition. It has several benefits including Hyper-V virtualization, virtual hard disk booting, file system encryption, and so on. But it’s missing Windows Media Center.
The Windows Media player itself may not be essential, but you’re missing many of the licensed codecs required for movie playback — such as Dolby. I presume this was one of the reasons Microsoft could discount the OS upgrade price. If you need those codecs, they’re available in the Windows 8 Pro Pack — for $69.99. Ouch.
Fortunately, Microsoft is spreading a little pre-holiday cheer by giving away the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for free. You have until January 31, 2013 to claim up to five licenses so it’s worth grabbing a key even if you haven’t upgraded yet:
- Head to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/feature-packs
- Scroll down the page to the form, enter your email and the captcha then hit “Send my product key”.
- Wait. The key can take two or three days to arrive.
- Click Search from the Charms menu (Win+C or point to the top or bottom right of the screen), enter “add features” in the search box then click Settings just below it.
- Click Add features to Windows 8 followed by I already have a product key.
- Copy and paste the product key, click Next and wait for the upgrade to download and install. Note that it’ll automatically reboot during the process — save your work first!
Always nice to get something for free … even if it was provided in your earlier Windows installation!
Keep an eye on SitePoint for my full review of Windows 8 coming soon…
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.