For a limited time, Microsoft will be offering a free copy of the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for Windows 8 Pro. The offer will run from October 26, 2012 through January 31, 2012 for consumers who are purchasing or upgrading to Windows 8 Pro. The actual Windows 8 Pro (Pack) upgrade is also selling for $39.99 ($69.99 for disc version) until January 31 as well.
Microsoft revealed back in May that Media Center would not be provided in the standard edition of Windows 8. The company said this was due to "the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan." Thus, consumers with the standard version of Windows 8 would have to purchase the Windows 8 Pro Pack, which upgrades the OS in addition to adding Media Center. Windows 8 Pro consumers merely have to acquire the Media Center Pack which is currently free for a limited time.
"This ensures that customers who are interested in Media Center have a convenient way to get it. Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support, said Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky. "For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, we are going to rely on the many quality solutions on the market, which provide great experiences for both DVD and Blu-ray."
Critics have pointed out that the lack of DVD support will drive up costs for the consumer. Not only will they be required to upgrade to Pro, but purchase the Media Player Pack as well. There's also fear that manufacturers will increase the number of "crapware" installs on their new Windows 8 PCs to make up for the lack of features. That said, consumers with Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro should take advantage of the deal before time runs out and the prices go up.
To receive a product key for Windows Media Center, Windows 8 Pro customers merely need to provide a valid email address. "Once you receive your free product key through the email address you provided, follow the instructions for adding Windows 8 Media Center Pack that appear later on this page," the site states.
To get your copy of Windows Media Center, head here. Windows 8 Pro goes on sale at 12:01am on October 26, 2012, costing a mere $39.99 for the digital upgrade until January31 – a physical disc version will cost $69.99 until January.