Get Windows 8 Pro Media Center for FREE!

By Craig Buckler
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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:

  1. Head to
  2. Scroll down the page to the form, enter your email and the captcha then hit “Send my product key”.
  3. Wait. The key can take two or three days to arrive.
  4. 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.
  5. Click Add features to Windows 8 followed by I already have a product key.
  6. 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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  • is VLC player a better alternative? or we still need the codec from windows mediacenter?

    • Good question. I’m not sure whether VLC depends on any Windows codecs?

      Besides, you might as well get the Media Center Pack while it’s free.

    • boen_robot

      VLC has its own codecs, so no – you don’t need the codecs from Windows Media Center, as long as you only play videos with VLC, and not with a different player.

      I’m not fully aware whether the WMC codecs include ones not supported by VLC, but the point is that WMC codecs are available system wide – to any player – while VLC’s codecs are only for itself.

      For alternative system wide codecs, there’s also K-Lite Codec Pack, and many others.

  • kris

    Hey Craig,

    I am not negative here but I feel Windows media player is buggy which I have found in Win7 installation.

    Playing music in VLC never change the date when WMP do. Btw you need to have installed Media feature if you run server windows when VLC doesn’t require anything (as you have told in your comments).

    The bug I found in WMP is my windows explorer (CTRL+ E) show me that file has modified before it’s crated (something like Zombie have done something before I got the file in system).

    • I’m not a huge fan of WMP either, but at least it and the major codecs are provided in Windows 7. Anyone on Windows 8 who watches DVDs or has TV hardware will need the Pro Pack.

  • Read my lips or my writing. There is NO “ADD FEATURES” in windows 8 Pro N. OK. So how can we get windows media center?

    • Yes there is. You probably haven’t clicked “Settings” below the search box after entering “add features”.

      • You’re a better, gentler man than I am, Craig Buckler. Well played.