Microsoft Just Messed Up And Gave Out A Free Windows 8 Activation Key

If you've been wanting to upgrade to Windows 8 but baulk at paying then, firstly, you're a bad person but, secondly, now your opportunity's here. Microsoft just screwed up and handed out a free activation key for the OS.

Microsoft is letting Windows 8 Pro users upgrade to Media centre for free until January 31st. Neat. But in so doing, it's handed out a code that will fully activate any copy of Windows 8. Oops. The Verge has even tested it out and is confirming that it works.

If you want details of how to do it, head on over to Reddit. [Reddit via Windows Wave via Verge]


Comments

    It has been removed from Reddit

    I still don't think Windows 8 is an ''upgrade''. I'm sticking with 7.

      its certainly not a downgrade though, given the low cost i dont know why you bite the bullet because we both know you'll upgrade eventually

        Interesting question. If I discount a turd, does a turd become a bargain...? ;-)

        But you are right, of course. I will be forced to move to Windows 8 eventually, because eventually I'll want to play games which use the latest DirectX, and Microsoft will deny the latest DirectX from Windows 7 users as a means of forcing us to Windows 8.

        Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, though, or buy into the ''upgrade'' malarky. Windows 8 is at best a cross-grade for those wanting Windows on a touchscreen

        Last edited 24/11/12 6:24 am

      LOL. I got 7 down votes for not liking Windows 8 :-)

        Perhaps if you'd been able to explain why you don't like it you may have got some support?

          I recall I wasn't very popular when I pointed out how much Vista sucked at its launch, too. I think history may have proved me right on that one.

          But I didn't think I needed to explain why someone wouldn't like Windows 8, because so many reviewers have pointed out the key reasons in so many reviews... The kludgy switch between Tiles and Desktop, the fact that tiles are in effect unnecessarily over-sized icons which are mostly redundant for a keyboard and mouse system, the obtuse short-cuts, the clear direction towards a walled-garden app store a la Apple, etc.

          Basically, it's a touchscreen tablet OS being foisted on those of us who still prefer keyboards and mouses, which from a UI perspective falls between two stools.

            What "kludgy switch"? It is smooth and easy, just like clicking on an icon in the old Start Menu or switching between open applications, which is essentially all that you are doing.

            How are tiles any worse than pinned icons on the old Start Screen? They might be a little larger but you can fit more of them on and organise them much better, so their size is not an impediment to their utility. Best of all, you don't have to deal with a tiny little window and a "Back" button to get around.

            As I've said below, try and use the Windows 8 desktop with a touchscreen. It's a nightmare, every bit as bad as Windows 7. It is laughable that you would think of it as touch-friendly in any way. Yes, they have added a whole lot of touch-friendly stuff but the one and only thing they have replaced is the Start Screen, which absolutely needed to be fixed from Vista. (How it got carried through to Win7 is beyond me.) Every other touch-friendly feature is a new addition, something that wasn't there in Windows 7. i.e. If you want to stick to the desktop, the one and only touch-friendly feature you will have to deal with is the Start Screen, which is much better than Win 7's Start menu anyway. If you hate it, you can still pin icons to the Start screen or use desktop shortcuts.

            In a typical day I would spend 5 or 6 hours on my PC and in that time, the sum total of the time I would spend in anything touch-oriented would be less than one minute (all on the Start Screen, I don't use any "apps" at all). That is about 0.25% of the time spent on Windows 8 in an average day so even if you don't like the touch-oriented side of things, it is such a tiny part of your day that it makes no sense to care one way or the other. Uninstall all the "apps" and be done with it if you like.

            have you even tried windows 8? because what you describe there is way off the mark!

            Win8 is very nice... Sure, it needs to be more polished, but I have really enjoyed it since installing it. You just need to use it differently... Finally the "windows" key has a real use.
            It super fast to load any app as you don't have to trowel through the start menu. Just hit the Windows key and start typing the name off the app and hit enter. It brings alignment all across microsoft products so if a customer can use one, they can use all... it's a very smart move.

            Anyway, the only problem i've had so far is intermittent video card problems, like skipping youtube vids and laggy bf3. But i'm sure Nvidia will fix it soon enough.

            All i can say is, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG! It's not XP or Win7, so don't use it like those systems!

              I have AMD & put win 8 on, no issues with BF# of MOH warfighter, have you had a squiz at any forums? Win 8 also fixed crappy graphics I was getting with Rage...

        I gave you an Up-vote because I don't like Windows anything!

      That would be after testing it for yourself, I'm sure? But you're right, who would want their computer to start and shut down in half the time or to run with 50% fewer services chewing up their resources? And who needs a vastly improved Task Manager or a better Windows Explorer or a infinitely superior alternative to the severely broken Start menu? None of those things would constitute a step forward, would they?

        Of course, installed, used for a month, uninstalled.

        Who would want to run a touchscreen oriented tablet OS on their keyboard/mouse oriented PC?

        My latest gen PC with Windows 7 starts very fast thanks to its SSD. Task Manager is fine. In fact, I can't see any advantage in 8, and some disadvantages.

        Even Microsoft, selling it at such a discounted price at launch, know that they're trying to sell a pup to those not using tablets as their primary machine.

        I might buy a Win 8 tablet at some point. On a tablet, Win 8 makes more sense. But then, I'm pretty happy with my Android tablets for the moment.

          "Who would want to run a touchscreen oriented tablet OS on their keyboard/mouse oriented PC?" I imagine no-one would but have you tried to use the Win8 desktop on a touchscreen? It is really, really difficult, the last thing in the world anyone would describe as "touchscreen oriented". Yes, Windows 8 has some touch-friendly elements but they do not interfere with, nor detract from, the classic desktop experience we have all become used to since Windows 95. e.g. If you hate X-Box Music as much as I do, you can still use Windows Media Player or Zune or WinAmp or whatever you like, on the desktop with the same tiny buttons and widgets they have always had. But in some areas the new and old work really well together. e.g. Clicking on the network icon in the System Tray opens the Charms Bar, which gives you a much nicer way of selecting a network and connecting than the old dialog box (which is still available for extreme luddites, of course) and even the Start Screen is a big improvement over the Vista/Win7 Start Menu, thanks to it's extreme (and extremely easy) customisation.

          "My latest gen PC with Windows 7 starts very fast thanks to its SSD." Mine too, but it starts twice as quickly and shuts down 3 or 4 times faster under Win8. It is so fast that it makes sleep and hibernation modes obsolete. It starts from cold in under 10 seconds and shuts down in less than two from a default install with zero optimisation. Interestingly, I never noticed Windows starting any faster on my old Dell when I swapped out the HDD for an SSD. It probably did but teh difference wasn't noticeable.

          "On a tablet, Win 8 makes more sense." Obviously you have not tried to use the desktop on a touch device. Everything that is terrible about using Win7 on a touchscreen is carried over to Win8. That's why I lost interest in an Asus TAICHI and bought a Samsung Series 9 instead - 5 minutes of frustration with Windows 8 on a Sony Duo 11 was enough to convince me I would never use the touchscreen on the TAICHI.

          The reason MS are selling Win8 so cheaply is to get bums on seats, in order to attract developers to the touch-friendly side of things, where it is obvious the future of all these companies lie. The failure of WinPhone 7 is 100% down to a lack of users leading to a lack of interest from developers. MS have worked out that they need to have big numbers to get developers on board, so they are doing everything they can to get the numbers up quickly. But from next year prices will revert to more familiar levels, so it's not like they don't believe they can get customers to pay full freight for it. They are just trying to get users to upgrade sooner than they otherwise might. It worked on me - I bought a Windows upgrade for the first time ever (two, actually).

            Hello, I don't know why everyone is going on about the icon size and the start screen, if you just Google around you will find software that will change just about anything back to look like Windows XP or anyother OS, Microsoft should have kept XP and just updated the problem areas but then they wouldn't make tens of billions of dollars a year if they gave us something that worked and kept on working, only the uneducated and plain dumb people out there would think that Microsoft couldn't design a OS that could be used permanently.
            I think some people just have too much time on their hands and sit around finding faults with everything. Maybe I'm one of the first but I also sit around all day fixing, formatting or reprogramming computers all day.
            Try sitting around and find was to get virtual XP software.
            I am not saying that this is you guys or even this subject but some people use forums etc to try and look like they are professionals where as they write some of the most stupid things I have ever read, some forums are worth reading just for the laughs you get.
            I think there should be another company out there that can come up with another compatible OS that has public input so as we end up with something we all like or maybe Microsoft an put up another website that they actually take notice of and get real opinions from your average Jo Blow and not just guess at what we want, you know, something like a OS that lasts for ten years before upgrading and not sending out half a%$@# software that has to be replaced in the next year or so. if they send out a OS like Vista then they should refund all the unlucky people that bought it or send them a free copy of the new "working" OS.
            Anyway that's my waffle for the year and yes I expect to be inundated with messages from the uninformed and clueless masses out there that think the sun shines out of Microsoft’s you know what but hey, that's life. Regards to all snafu.

    Windows 8 is a failure. Disgusted that they're resorted to blackmailing customers by withholding direct X 11.1 game support from the previous, infinitely superior versions of windows.

      You mean like they did for Windows 7 and Direct X 10?

        Of course because Franz like the rest of us wanted to stay with Vista...

        Last edited 23/11/12 10:05 pm

      Why is a slower, more bloated version of Windows that takes longer to do everything and looks ugly while it does it "superior" to a newer, lighter, faster and more flexible version?

    Errum, so a key gets leaked. Cool. Anyone else understand that each key has a limited number of activations? (ie, I have a 200 activation key for work for server 2012, etc)

    And even if this was an internal MS unlimited key, a server-side change to the activation system could cancel the key -- Every MS computer since I think Vista revalidated monthly, either against an MS server (or a specially crafted offline AD server for offline networks)

      Given it's a promo key, it won't be limited. When they cancel it, what happens to all the legitimate pro users who used the key?

        The Media Center key is a use once key. I couldn't use it on my Desktop as well as my Laptop. But I could reinstall my desktop and reactivate no issues. For the Media Center to install you need to have an activated copy of Windows for it to allow the upgrade. From then on its authentication is done by that key.

        What is missing in this article (but mentioned on the Verge) is that the pirates are activating Windows 8 on the sly and its a process that has to be repeated every 180 days. With this "activated" copy the pirates then use the free Media Center key they apply for (their unique key) to then authenticate that with Microsoft.

        All that said, the original key would have to be stored somewhere in the system still and Microsoft is being lazy and currently only authenticating the Media Center key. They could easily produce an update that would revalidate the primary key. Kick up a stick if it fails.

        Last edited 23/11/12 10:12 pm

    Damn, I already upgraded a week ago :(... I'm not mad at MS though, because for some reason a few days ago they refunded 90% of the Windows Phone Developer license I got a last week for reasons I don't know.

      Maybe they extended that promo or something similar after Build where they gave a licence for $8, only up for grabs within 8 days else your back to the full price.

        That makes sense, how lucky for me! Thanks tamujin

    They can't sell it so they're giving it away.

    But wouldn't using this key mean that MS can remote 'do stuff' to your machine when they figure out you're a cheater?

      That makes no sense.

        You don't think there's a chance you'll turn on your pc to see an email from MS saying "Dear cheater, we noticed you've stolen a copy of windows 8"?

        Or you'll try to turn on your machine to find it won't boot to windows because it's been remotely disabled?

          Remote do stuff implies that they will hack into your machine. Sending an email or releasing a patch to notify you of non genuine software and then requesting you rectify it within a period of time is completely different . Use the correct terminology.

            I'll use everyday english thanks.

            Sending an email or releasing a patch also falls under the domain of 'do stuff'.

            And that's why I'm not going to upgrade to win8 using any of these dodgy methods. My whole machine won't run if the op sys is compromised, so I'd rather know that I had a legit copy and am entitled to some tech support if I run into issues.

    The upgrades were dead cheap and I'm pretty happy with win8 both on my tablet and desktop. Ironically, my steam games have all run quite noticeably better since the upgrade. TF2 is like a new game.

    p.s. One day Gizmodo might get hacked. If that happened, you would be quite hypocritical if you expected any sympathy.

      Plus Windows 8 upgrade offer will work from an un-activated Windows 7 install.

    I'd rather pay $15 for a key that wont be deactivated :p

    Microsoft could of mentioned or advertised it before selling the upgrade to media centre in stores. Just because I had a bit of cash I decided to purchase it, not only does the key not work at all, I find out you can get it for free anyway. And can't return software to stores.

    Looking at the support forums at Microsoft, I'm not the only one who got it with no working activation key.

    I wonder if this is just a ploy to trick users in to windows 8, which they will fix right after users "get used to it" then offer "cheap upgrades" to everyone. Either way, im not biting. Sticking with windows 7.

    Link removed. a good thing dont need others finding out about a old trick....

    I have win8 on my Dell XT2 (touch screen laptop) (used for browsing and media mostly) and its fantastic.... love it
    I had it on my desktop (which do all my work from office/photoshop etc) and nuked it after jsut under 3 weeks of measure and straggle... all the PC functionality is hidden and not having touch monitor just makes all the 'new ' functions useless and annoying

    So sick of hearing people who b#tch that Windows 8 is crap most likely have never even used it it works fine there are no issues and if you dont like it maybe your the problem and just stupid?...If windows is to hard maybe you should downgrade your intelligence and buy a Mac.

    Last edited 24/11/12 11:36 am

      Its funny because you pretty much just typed a comment that most Linux users would say to Windows users.

      You may not have noticed this but Microsoft wants to be like Apple. The only reason Windows 8 has been designed the way it has is because Microsoft desperately needs people to develop compatible apps for it so they can have a decent App store to break into the Phone market.

    Hello, I don't know why everyone is going on about the icon size and the start screen, if you just Google around you will find software that will change just about anything back to look like Windows XP, Microsoft should have kept XP and just updated the problem areas but then they wouldn't make tens of billions of dollars a year if they gave us something that worked and kept on working, only the uneducated and plain dumb people out there would think that Microsoft couldn't design a OS that could be used permanently.
    I think some people just have too much time on their hands and sit around finding faults with everything. Maybe I'm one of the first but I also sit around all day fixing, formatting or reprogramming computers all day.
    Try sitting around and find was to get virtual XP software.
    I am not saying that this is you guys or even this subject but some people use forums etc to try and look like they are professionals where as they write some of the most stupid things I have ever read, some forums are worth reading just for the laughs you get.
    I think there should be another company out there that can come up with another compatible OS that has public input so as we end up with something we all like or maybe Microsoft an put up another website that they actually take notice of and get real opinions from your average Jo Blow and not just guess at what we want, you know, something like a OS that lasts for ten years before upgrading and not sending out half a%$@# software that has to be replaced in the next year or so. if they send out a OS like Vista then they should refund all the unlucky people that bought it or send them a free copy of the new "working" OS.
    Anyway that's my waffle for the year and yes I expect to be inundated with messages from the uninformed and clueless masses out there that think the sun shines out of Microsoft’s you know what but hey, that's life. Regards to all snafu.

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