If you're wondering how to install Windows Media Center in Windows 8 Pro RTM, you've come to the right place. After installing Windows 8 Pro RTM using a MSDN / TechNet key I noticed Windows Media Center was gone. I use Windows Media Center for DVR, Photo Gallery, Netflix, Hulu, Home videos, playing ripped Blu-ray .iso movie images, and more - all connected to my 55" TV over HDMI. Then I remembered reading about how Microsoft was trying to keep the licensing costs of Windows 8 down and one way was by not licensing various codecs, as they explained here:
Our partners have shared clear concerns over the costs associated with codec licensing for traditional media playback, especially as Windows 8 enables an unprecedented variety of form factors. Windows has addressed these concerns in the past by limiting availability of these experiences to specialized “media” or “premium” editions. At the same time, we also heard clear feedback from customers and partners that led to our much simplified Windows 8 editions lineup.
Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we’ve decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade). 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. 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.
We will offer two ways to acquire Windows Media Center:
OEM pre-installed, clean install, or upgrade
Acquire & install via Add Features to Windows 8
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Media Center Pack
Windows 8 Pro
with Media Center
Windows 8 Pro Pack
According to the Microsoft Upgrade Offer FAQ:
- Is Windows Media Center included in the upgrade to Windows 8 Pro?
-Customers who want to install Windows Media Center will need to purchase the Windows 8 Media Center Pack through the Add Windows Feature function after upgrading to Windows 8 Pro.
Purchase? I need to purchase it even though it was included in my previous version of Windows 7 Professional? Ok, fine. I'll buy it. After reading up, this was one solution I found:
- Go to Start screen (Windows key or lower-left corner)
- Type 'add fe' and click Settings on right-hand side as shown here:
- Next click "Add Features to Windows 8" and you'll be greeted with this:
In a few easy steps, you can add features to your PC to get a different edition of Windows 8. Your apps, files, and settings will stay right where they are.
- I want to buy a product key online
- I already have a product key
I proceeded with Option 1) ("I want to buy a product key online"( but it results in this error: "An error occurred. Close this wizard and try again."
So then I tried Option 2), which results in asking me to enter a new product key. I don't have one, I'm trying to buy one darn it! The problem is that I'm using a Windows 8 Pro RTM key and technically Windows 8 isn't commercially available at retail.
A little more digging and I found out that Media Center Pack for Windows 8 Professional won't be available until October 26, then it will be free until January 31st. That's great news that it'll be free, but not so great news that a loyal, core user base of Media Center users that upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 8 just broke their DVR capabilities (recording TV, pause/rewind Live TV, etc.), Hulu, Netflix, etc. Why people buy Roku, Apple TV specialized streaming devices is beyond me. Windows Media Center can do everything Roku, Apple TV can do and more since it's a full operating system with access to any apps/software, browsers, etc. With my wireless keyboard and mouse I can surf the Web from the couch, check email, use my Media Center remote to launch Netflix, etc. With Apple looking to really push Apple TV I'm surprised Microsoft isn't giving Media Center the attention it deserves. Perhaps because they'd rather users use Xbox 360 as their primary video streaming device?
Anyway, then I discovered a half-ass solution. I found a ProfessionalWMC (Professional + WMC key) for 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Windows 8 Pro Retail. You won't be able to "activate" your Windows 8 after using this key, but if you can put up with some nag screens every couple hours this will get you by until October 26th.
Simple step to get Media Center working:
- Go back to "Add Features to Windows 8" explained above and this time pick "I already have a product key". Copy/paste the key below and then you will be able to "add more features".
Windows 8 x86 & x64 ProfessionalWMC (Retail) = RR3BN-3YY9P-9D7FC-7J4YF-QGJXW
Your computer will reboot a couple of times and Windows Media Center will be added. Again, with the caveat that you will be running a non-activated copy of Windows 8.