Loophole enables anyone to get a Windows 8 license for free

By on November 21, 2012, 10:01 AM

Copies of Windows 8 Pro are freely available from Microsoft’s website for anyone who wants to try out the operating system. Normally, the software would expire after 180 days, a period that is meant to allow Volume Licensing customers to automate and manage the activation process. But a loophole in the company’s Key Management System allows anyone to legitimately activate their copy of Windows 8 permanently, for free.

The goof centers around the Windows Media Center upgrade that’s being for free offered by Microsoft themselves until January 31 next year. Specifically, when entering the add-on key, Microsoft’s Key Management System will let you fully activate your copy of Windows 8 without running a validity check for the product key of the underlying system the Media Center add-on is being installed on.

To get a free Media Center key all users need to do is request it from Microsoft’s website using any email address. Once the code is in your inbox, do a search for “Add features to Windows 8” under Settings, click on it and enter the product key. Media Center will download and install, and after your system comes back from a reboot, you’ll be able to use the same upgrade product key to activate Windows.

With this your copy of Windows 8 will become fully active and 'legitimate', which you can verify in the activation window where it should read “Windows is activated” instead of “Windows is activated until…”.

The method has been confirmed to work by several news outlets. I tried it as well but upon requesting a Media Center key the site responded it will be emailed to me “within 24 hours” -- I can’t tell if the wait period is standard or if Microsoft is moving to patch the flaw by implementing a check for the underlying system.




User Comments: 73

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2 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Wouldn't if have been better if you PMed this article to your active users, and left it off the front page?

captainawesome captainawesome said:

Wouldn't if have been better if you PMed this article to your active users, and left it off the front page?

I don't think so especially considering several other news forums are posting this. I do not see this as TS advocating the loophole - it's simply informative. Do with it as you wish. I personally bought 3 licenses on Win 8 already and it was really worth the money.

Chazz said:

I tried it as well but upon requesting a Media Center key the site responded it will be emailed to me ?within 24 hours? -- I can?t tell if the wait period is standard or if Microsoft is moving to patch the flaw by implementing a check for the underlying system.

I did the upgrade with my windows pro copy a couple weeks back and it took two days to get my key. This is the normal wait period.

@Capt. That would be very unprofessional of Techspot, they'd definitely loose me as a reader. I wouldn't consider that a service.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

Sorry I got distracted by the previous comment. If they plug the loophole tomorrow, surely you won't be able to re-install the OS at any point later in the future.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Microsoft needs to remove the activation key for desktop users and provide the operating system for free. Focus on selling windows approved hardware, servers and tablets.

p51d007 said:

Why would you want a copy of Windows 8 would be my question

Yeah, I've got it, for 15 bucks, just because I could, installed in a VM, but

I don't see anything it does, or can do, that win7 does. Unless you have a touch

screen device, I don't see the benefit. Maybe later, but right now, win7 serves my

purpose.

2 people like this |
Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Why would you want a copy of Windows 8 would be my question

Yeah, I've got it, for 15 bucks, just because I could, installed in a VM, but

I don't see anything it does, or can do, that win7 does. Unless you have a touch

screen device, I don't see the benefit. Maybe later, but right now, win7 serves my

purpose.

OMG commas. Anyways, people need to stop asking this question, Why would you want Windows 8? This iteration of the operating system is useful in a lot of ways, and doesn't have any of the terrible problems Vista did. It's lighter weight and brings a lot of new functionality via user accounts and Server 2012 is awesome. You can get a start menu back if you want, it works great on touch-enabled devices, and now I can have native apps on my HTPC for Netflix and other media software that makes it easy to use for people who aren't fond of navigating in the browser from the couch. It has lots of value; if you can't see it, express why.

CrisisDog said:

I mostly like Windows 8, but I can still complain about how it's support with AMD Eyefinity / Nvidia Surround sucks with the "interface previously known as Metro". I also can't figure out an easy way to import email messages from a previous program into the start screen app, nor does the music app support FLAC. The full desktop media player can take advantage of additional codecs, but apparently any start screen app has to have them included for cross platform portability.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Even if its free. I still don't want it.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

@Capt. That would be very unprofessional of Techspot, they'd definitely loose me as a reader. I wouldn't consider that a service.
All literal interpretation and no sense of humor makes Chazz a dull boy... You can sing that to the tune of, "all work and no play". Maestro........

I don't think so especially considering several other news forums are posting this. I do not see this as TS advocating the loophole - it's simply informative. Do with it as you wish. I personally bought 3 licenses on Win 8 already and it was really worth the money.
Trust me, that was a joke. I'd actually opt for a copy of Ubuntu if I needed a free OS.

Even if its free. I still don't want it.
Nail on the head, hit you did.....(Who talks like that? No really, I can't remember....:oops .

DEIT: Yoda, of course. (Nor for that matter, spell on the first try, "edit", can I not" .

pmkrefeld said:

Why would you want a copy of Windows 8 would be my question

Yeah, I've got it, for 15 bucks, just because I could, installed in a VM, but

I don't see anything it does, or can do, that win7 does. Unless you have a touch

screen device, I don't see the benefit. Maybe later, but right now, win7 serves my

purpose.

OMG commas. Anyways, people need to stop asking this question, Why would you want Windows 8? This iteration of the operating system is useful in a lot of ways, and doesn't have any of the terrible problems Vista did. It's lighter weight and brings a lot of new functionality via user accounts and Server 2012 is awesome. You can get a start menu back if you want, it works great on touch-enabled devices, and now I can have native apps on my HTPC for Netflix and other media software that makes it easy to use for people who aren't fond of navigating in the browser from the couch. It has lots of value; if you can't see it, express why.

Dude you have seriously absolutely no idea what you are talking about........

Guest said:

ASLR and exploit mitigations

Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) was introduced in Windows Vista and is essentially a technique to mitigate the infamous "Buffer Overrun" vulnerabilities by randomly moving the location of code and data in memory. In Windows 8 randomization is increased in order to foil known techniques for bypassing ASLR. Other mitigations include changes to the Windows kernel and heap, including new integrity checks and randomization using a similar approach to ASLR. Internet Explorer 10 will also benefit from these changes: besides including an "Enhanced Protected Mode" sandbox, there will be a "ForceASLR" option in IE10 that can randomize all modules loaded into memory by the browser, regardless if those modules did not opt in to use ASLR protection (developers can create modules that take advantage of ASLR protection by using the optional /DYNAMICBASE flag).

Guest said:

2 weeks ago I requested 30 of the keys for Pro WMC upgrade. Installed it on as many friends computer as possible. The people that did not like the metro style and liked the desktop of windows 7, I installed a classic shell. It is free. it gives you your start menu again in your lower left corner. Then just write a small task on login to go to desktop and skip start at metro. So far the only bad thing I have found is it does not have all the drivers yet for older devices. There is always work around tho. It seems to support PC's as old as 6 years old with no problems. My cheap 16gb tablet with atom processor runs the windows 8 pro wmc 64bit great with 6 gb left over. Built in Skype, and apps to download for free makes it a great for people who don't know much about pc's. Just go to the store and shop. I installed it on tri boot mac book and it works great there too. If your loving windows 7, this can be just as good and better if you want more. My PC went from 45 sec boot to 14 sec boot with Windows 8 pro WMC

Guest said:

Sorry, but this sounds like a stunt. What better way to distribute a flawed operating system than to concoct a phony story of the possibility of getting it for free. Even if people don't buy Windows 8 in the end, I'm sure Microsoft will announce to high heaven about it's downloads to give the impression that it's popular. I don't care to have it for free, even if this isn't a stunt. I've tried Windows 8 on a friend's computer for about an hour before he returned it for a Windows 7 PC. Won't make the mistake of buying it like he did!

insect said:

This works. I did this about a month ago when it was found on MDL (mydigitallife). If you want the latest mods/workarounds check them out for anything MS puts out.

So, far, it took me about 15 minutes to get used to Win8. I finally have a use for the Windows Key other than keyboard shortcuts!

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Dude you have seriously absolutely no idea what you are talking about........

pmkrefeld, this is exactly what I'm talking about. You say something like this but you don't say why. You've illustrated my argument for me. There is a lot that is good about this OS, and I understand that a lot of people don't like it, but most people just carry on with this sentiment without expressing why.

Guest said:

I believe this is a tactic by MS to get people to use Win 8

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

How does Window compare to Windows 7 for simple server purposes?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I believe this is a tactic by MS to get people to use Win 8
So say, you snag a free sopy of Win 8, and you're chugging along with it, and the next thing you know, it fails WGA, and M$ wants you to cut them a check for the "free copy". Something like that?

Guest said:

Stunt if I ever saw one. Poor sells, come up with a story to get it for free and the rest will follow!

peperonikiller peperonikiller said:

How does Window compare to Windows 7 for simple server purposes?

wait what?

Windows 8 and Windows 7 aren't server OS's...

distantreality said:

I believe this is a tactic by MS to get people to use Win 8

Well ofcourse with sales down and them wanting to move foward with things that already have planned out it makes sense! They still are coming out with the surface pro and software probably will make more money off the office 2013 than win 8 if they don't act lol... I am sure they also wish to make money off their app store! I setup a laptop for my mother with win 8! Have you seen the prices of some of the things in the store? I am starting to like unbutu better than windows altho win7 is still #1 in my book. I probably won't buy windows 8 for myself until they can make a gaming laptop with a 17" touch screen and atleast the best i7! I have been waiting forever hopefully 2013 will be more promising!!

Guest said:

Okay, I can assure this is a marketing tactic because of the poor sales figures of Windows 8. I have been preaching against upgrading to Windows 8 ever since I first found out the UI was primarily a tablet interface. But I immediately clicked the link and requested my free key. It's something about "free" that most people can't resist I guess.

I actually believe that the only way Windows 8 can succeed at this point is by giving it away for free. Other than nerds who can't resist the lure of new technology most people have not be convincing that upgrading to a new OS that boots 3 nanoseconds faster than the previous operating system is worth enduring the catastrophic interface that one must use the "other" 99.9% of the time that people aren't "booting". I am one which falls into that category.

I can't stand Windows 8 yet I just requested my "free" key. My defense be temporary insanity. I still don't feel like bothering with a brand-new operating system upgrade at this point. Even if it is better under the hood(that part I wont dispute) Windows 7 is good enough. So why put myself through the pain. My gut still tells me just to kick back for years, wait for Windows 9. Microsoft will hopefully give "everybody" what they want next time around and not just tablet users.

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Okay, I can assure this is a marketing tactic because of the poor sales figures of Windows 8. I have been preaching against upgrading to Windows 8 ever since I first found out the UI was primarily a tablet interface. But I immediately clicked the link and requested my free key. It's something about "free" that most people can't resist I guess.

I actually believe that the only way Windows 8 can succeed at this point is by giving it away for free. Other than nerds who can't resist the lure of new technology most people have not be convincing that upgrading to a new OS that boots 3 nanoseconds faster than the previous operating system is worth enduring the catastrophic interface that one must use the "other" 99.9% of the time that people aren't "booting". I am one which falls into that category.

I can't stand Windows 8 yet I just requested my "free" key. My defense be temporary insanity. I still don't feel like bothering with a brand-new operating system upgrade at this point. Even if it is better under the hood(that part I wont dispute) Windows 7 is good enough. So why put myself through the pain. My gut still tells me just to kick back for years, wait for Windows 9. Microsoft will hopefully give "everybody" what they want next time around and not just tablet users.

This loophole has been available for a month; from the sound of it, before the retail release of Windows 8. Reconcile that with your marketing tactic theory.

3 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

n the previous operating system is worth enduring the catastrophic interface that one must use the "other" 99.9% of the time that people aren't "booting". I am one which falls into that category.

I can't stand Windows 8 yet I just requested my "free" key. My defense be temporary insanity. I still don't feel like bothering with a brand-new operating system upgrade at this point. Even if it is better under the hood(that part I wont dispute) Windows 7 is good enough. So why put myself through the pain. My gut still tells me just to kick back for years, wait for Windows 9. Microsoft will hopefully give "everybody" what they want next time around and not just tablet users.

I'm going to stick with the virtually endless string of naked slavic beauties on my Win 7 desktop. People can use the Fisher-Price set of blocks on Metro, if that's what fires their imaginations.

If my HDD Win 7 install doesn't boot as fast as as a Win 8 with SSD, no problem. I just consider it "foreplay".

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Can anyone confirm this?

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Can anyone confirm this?

This works. I did this about a month ago when it was found on MDL (mydigitallife). If you want the latest mods/workarounds check them out for anything MS puts out.

So, far, it took me about 15 minutes to get used to Win8. I finally have a use for the Windows Key other than keyboard shortcuts!

Chazz said:

@Capt. That would be very unprofessional of Techspot, they'd definitely loose me as a reader. I wouldn't consider that a service.
All literal interpretation and no sense of humor makes Chazz a dull boy... You can sing that to the tune of, "all work and no play". Maestro........

I don't think so especially considering several other news forums are posting this. I do not see this as TS advocating the loophole - it's simply informative. Do with it as you wish. I personally bought 3 licenses on Win 8 already and it was really worth the money.
Trust me, that was a joke. I'd actually opt for a copy of Ubuntu if I needed a free OS.

Even if its free. I still don't want it.
Nail on the head, hit you did.....(Who talks like that? No really, I can't remember....:oops .

DEIT: Yoda, of course. (Nor for that matter, spell on the first try, "edit", can I not" .

Well I am at work, so I guess It's fitting.Didn't come off as a joke, but I guess many things don't on the net. And I just offered it as a opposing opinion, I wasn't really serious...as it wouldn't be my money being hurt. That's just something I'd expect warez-here.com(random name don't know if it's real) would do.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Well I am at work, so I guess It's fitting.Didn't come off as a joke, but I guess many things don't on the net. And I just offered it as a opposing opinion, I wasn't really serious...as it wouldn't be my money being hurt. That's just something I'd expect warez-here.com(random name don't know if it's real) would do.
Well, they took away my beloved, "rolleyes" emoticon, which was my "tell".

Why can't just you conform with your co-workers, and surf for pr0n during working hours?

Getting bogged down in an internalized ethical dilemma, does no one any good, and in extreme cases, could lead to temporary impotence.

All kidding aside, the emoticons in this software all look alike to me. They pretty much share the same expression as someone who just sat on their own thumb, and doesn't know whether to enjoy the rush, or make a mad dash to the nearest confessional. (Phew, talk about ethical and moral dilemmas),

What are you still doing at work anyway? Don't you have a headache to fake, and a turkey to buy?

Chazz said:

@ captn. Well we're the relatives that the entire family seems to converge upon come the holidays, so there isn't much hustle and bustle for me this holiday season. A bunch of us opted to take a non-traditional holiday off earlier this year. We'll be off thursday and friday just not today.

Christmas time though, a entirely different story.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

I believe this is a tactic by MS to get people to use Win 8
So say, you snag a free sopy of Win 8, and you're chugging along with it, and the next thing you know, it fails WGA, and M$ wants you to cut them a check for the "free copy". Something like that?

OR... MS doesn't say anything about it being a "free" copy in hopes it boost sales in the Apps dept.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

OR... MS doesn't say anything about it being a "free" copy in hopes it boost sales in the Apps dept.
In all reality, Windows didn't come with "WGA"s as part of its feature set. It was added later.

With that said, I'm going to cling to my conspiracy theory, and I extend a joyous invitation for you to join me in paranoiaville, by clinging to yours also.

We can have, "separate but equal" conspiracy theories.

People are going to start paying for Windows apps? What the hell is this world coming to?

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ok, so what is the product key to install Windows 8 RTM for x64? I'm at a standstill trying to install this in a vm.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Ok, so what is the product key to install Windows 8 RTM for x64? I'm at a standstill trying to install this in a vm.
I'm getting that you don't need one from reading the full news article. You need the key to the Media Center add-on. (Big question mark there & a couple s for good measure).

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Why would you want a copy of Windows 8 would be my question

Yeah, I've got it, for 15 bucks, just because I could, installed in a VM, but

I don't see anything it does, or can do, that win7 does. Unless you have a touch

screen device, I don't see the benefit. Maybe later, but right now, win7 serves my

purpose.

OMG commas. Anyways, people need to stop asking this question, Why would you want Windows 8? This iteration of the operating system is useful in a lot of ways, and doesn't have any of the terrible problems Vista did. It's lighter weight and brings a lot of new functionality via user accounts and Server 2012 is awesome. You can get a start menu back if you want, it works great on touch-enabled devices, and now I can have native apps on my HTPC for Netflix and other media software that makes it easy to use for people who aren't fond of navigating in the browser from the couch. It has lots of value; if you can't see it, express why.

Dude you have seriously absolutely no idea what you are talking about........

Great comeback, bravo sir.

I want to try out W8 but, doubt il stay with it long, W7 till W9 unless W9 will blow.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I want to try out W8 but, doubt il stay with it long, W7 till W9 unless W9 will blow.
Just a thought, but wouldn't Windows 9 be almost guaranteed to blow even more, if people take to liking Windows 8. If M$ thinks they can get away with it, they're liable to bring 9 out sooner, given a public outcry for it.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm getting that you don't need one from reading the full news article. You need the key to the Media Center add-on. (Big question mark there & a couple s for good measure).

That's how I took it as well, however, I'm stuck on the "Enter the product key to activate Windows" screen.

Just a thought, but wouldn't Windows 9 be almost guaranteed to blow even more, if people take to liking Windows 8. If M$ thinks they can get away with it, they're liable to bring 9 out sooner, given a public outcry for it.

I heard windows 9 would be in RP next week.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

@peperonikiller Win7 and Win8 have the same kernels as the server variants. Server does not have MCE though. I use Win7 Ultimate as a file server (smb & ftp) and media centre. Depends really on what the other poster was referring to when they say "server".

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

That's how I took it as well, however, I'm stuck on the "Enter the product key to activate Windows" screen.
Um, the answer is possibly here somewhere: [link] although I surely wouldn't bet on it. There's a lot of conflicting info on this search page. (along with a DMCA complaint.._.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That's how I took it as well, however, I'm stuck on the "Enter the product key to activate Windows" screen.
Um, the answer is possibly here somewhere: [link] although I surely wouldn't bet on it.

Yeah, I tried that. I found 3 keys to try, though none of them worked. I remember reading something on TS about it a while back, though I got tired of looking. Logic tells me that TS would post something about it on the Win 8 RTM download page they linked to in the article, but I couldn't find it anywhere.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Yeah, I tried that. I found 3 keys to try, though none of them worked. I remember reading something on TS about it a while back, though I got tired of looking. Logic tells me that TS would post something about it on the Win 8 RTM download page they linked to in the article, but I couldn't find it anywhere.
At this point in space in time, isn't it possible that good old M$ isn't as far out of the loop as this article would lead you to believe? I couldn't find a trial of 8 anywhere on their site.That's not to say it wasn't there, I'm just fessing up to my own incompetence

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

At this point in space in time, isn't it possible that good old M$ isn't as far out of the loop as this article would lead you to believe? I couldn't find a trial of 8 anywhere on their site.That's not to say it wasn't there, I'm just fessing up to my own incompetence

I've considered the same thing, and have come to the same conclusion. Oh well... NASFWG

Guest said:

To be fair, I think MS is well aware of this exploit and couldnt care less about it. The goal is simply expose W8 to as many people as possible and make big bucks from Windows Store once paid apps start rolling.

Similar to Google's strategy of selling cheap Nexus devices with little profit but heavily invested on Google Play.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Why would you want a copy of Windows 8 would be my question

Yeah, I've got it, for 15 bucks, just because I could, installed in a VM, but

I don't see anything it does, or can do, that win7 does. Unless you have a touch

screen device, I don't see the benefit. Maybe later, but right now, win7 serves my

purpose.

OMG commas.
This is, as "prismatics", pointed out, "commatose"...... LOL

distantreality said:

To be fair, I think MS is well aware of this exploit and couldnt care less about it. The goal is simply expose W8 to as many people as possible and make big bucks from Windows Store once paid apps start rolling.

Similar to Google's strategy of selling cheap Nexus devices with little profit but heavily invested on Google Play.

no kidding, especially when you think this has been around a month and everyone is talking about it. A company like microsoft would have already fixed this issue by now! btw is this media center part of the app store or bundled in win 8? Does the kill switch rules apply to media center like other apps? heh good luck

Guest said:

I forsee M$ will turn a blind eye to this exploit while some users become completely dependent upon Win8 for their pc/internet time. Then they will simply release a service pack that voids all these exploit keys, leaving all these "trapped" users with no option but to buy the Win8 properly and thereby rescue their games; music; assignents etc.

Guest said:

This is prolly why they just sacked the head of Windows Division. That and when Steve Balmer showed it to Bill Gates, Bill said "fuc# Steve, this is sh1t". Yes folks, Steve Jobs has taken possesion of Bill Gates' body. Steve, as Bill, is now planning to get back all the cash he gave to Africa etc by giving them free RT devices with cached credit card details so their kids can 'accidentally' spend the money Bill gave away in the first place.

Steve can't die....he just caaaan't.

HellcatM said:

You'd get the key in 24 hours? I got this message when I signed up for it

"Thank you

Your product key will be emailed to you within 72 hours. If the email doesn?t arrive in your inbox, be sure to check your junk email folder. "

I think they're going to patch it.

Guest said:

Please tell us if Windows 7 legalize whit similar method. Thanks

ikesmasher said:

Aye I did it while it said 24, now it says 72. they are trying to fix it im assuming.

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