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Windows 8 Pro is Now Free (by Mistake)

An exploit on Microsoft's download page allows users to obtain a free copy of Windows 8 Pro.

Users who attempt the download for the Microsoft Windows Media Center upgrade, which ends on January 31, will consequently see Windows 8 Pro being permanently activated.

For pirates, the exploit is especially useful as it provides an alternative to the company's Key Management Service (KMS). The KMS, which is built for enterprise users, delivers Windows 8 through a KMS host and KMS client, leading to the new operating system becoming fully usable for 180 days before activation.

As opposed to having to input an activation key, businesses can activate Windows copies on a local network. However, setting up pirate KMS servers will see keys traded across the web for free.

That said, Windows is required to be reactivated every 180 days should you use this method. Each individual PC needs a unique key, so multiple users won't be able to activate the OS through the same key.

Reddit user noveleven explained why the method in question is successful:

When you activate Windows via KMS, in the activation window it says "Windows is activated until..." and a date (so if you were to install it today, it would say it's activated until May). After installing the upgrade, the window just says "Windows was activated on..." and the date of activation. That means the activation is permanent. When you install the upgrade key, that replaces the existing product key; only the new upgrade key is used for future checks. Windows won't check the key you used to install because it no longer has it.

  • noblerabbit
    oh Microsoft, you couldn't even give your POS (piece of Software) away for free to me.

    Coaster of the millenium, right up there with Diablo 3, may you both find love in heaven together somehow.
    Reply
  • RipperjackAU
    I used my three hotmail accounts, to snag three Microsoft Windows Media Center upgrade keys. However, a few hours on, nothing has been sent to any of my hotmail accounts!!

    I wonder if Micro$haft have realised their mistake, and stoped sending out Media Center upgrade keys. :(
    Reply
  • azathoth
    Whoops!
    Reply
  • joytech22
    I got my key ages ago for the media center upgrade. Maybe I finally have a reason to download the windows 8 ISO and install it into my jukebox (with a touch screen!) LMao
    Reply
  • inerax
    Windows 7 is still an amazing OS. Why even "upgrade" for free?
    Reply
  • Cryio
    ineraxWindows 7 is still an amazing OS. Why even "upgrade" for free?
    Mostly because of the boot-times and the new focus on the latest software. Windows 8 will be pushed really hard now so....

    Go with the flow? I for one like it :D
    Reply
  • jaquith
    For FREE I'm 'buying' it ;)
    For pirates, the exploit is especially useful as it provides an alternative to the company's Key Management Service (KMS).
    Brilliant TH for publishing this useful 'How To' pirate information. Job well done!!!
    Reply
  • yorgos
    free?
    still not tempting enough
    Reply
  • shahrooz
    CryioMostly because of the boot-times and the new focus on the latest software. Windows 8 will be pushed really hard now so....Go with the flow? I for one like itthe boot time is awesome even on HDD
    Reply
  • Anomalyx
    Everyone touting boot times... you know it never fully shuts down, right? Windows 8 hibernates instead, unless you manually disable "hybrid boot" in the power settings. Disable that, then compare boot times. They're hardly different.
    Reply