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Posted on January 25th, 2013 by Tim Danton

How to add Media Center – and DVD playback – to Windows 8 Pro for free

Windows Media Center on Windows 8 Pro

If you own Windows 8 Pro, you have precisely six days to claim your free Media Center upgrade – the main advantage of this is that it allows you to watch DVDs on your PC, because a DVD codec is part of the package.

Plus, if you have a TV tuner already installed or fancy buying one in the future, you can also watch and record live TV.

But – and it’s a big but – this free upgrade offer expires as of 31 January 2013.

Claiming it is relatively simple: head to the Microsoft Media Center feature pack page, enter your email address in the field provided and sit back.

Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
(If you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.)
Enter add features in the search box, and then tap or click Settings .
Tap or click Add features to Windows 8 and then do one of the following:
If you need to purchase a product key, tap or click I want to buy a product key online.
You will be prompted through the steps to buy a product key from there and it will be entered for you.
If you already have a product key, tap or click I already have a product key.
Enter your product key and click Next.
Read the license terms, select the check box to accept the license terms, and then click Add features.

You’ll be told that it could take up to 72 hours to receive your key, but when I followed the process today it only took around 15 minutes to arrive.

Adding Media Center to Windows 8 Pro

Once you have the key, you need to search for “Add features” in Windows 8, and then click on “Add features to Windows 8″. Follow the steps, pressing “I already have a product key” at the appropriate moment, and then follow the very straightforward steps.

When you reboot, Media Center will be installed in all its TV-recording, DVD-playing glory (see the proof below! I wasn’t watching this in work time, honest). If you want to watch a Blu-ray movie, you’ll have to buy a codec separately.

If you just want to benefit from DVD playback on your Windows 8 PC, and don’t want to download and install the relatively heavyweight Media Center, the VLC media player is a free, lightweight alternative.

Watching a DVD movie on Windows 8 Pro

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Posted in: Windows 8


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27 Responses to “ How to add Media Center – and DVD playback – to Windows 8 Pro for free ”

  1. Ryan Thomas Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I have the key already – does anyone know if the install has to be completed by the deadline, or am I okay for a while?

  2. Dave Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Sorry, what? Windows 8 Pro won’t play DVDs by default?

  3. Tim Danton Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    @Ryan – the main thing is that you have the product code. I don’t know of any timeout for this, so you should be fine. Bearing in mind other people’s comments, I’m deleting my thoughts on this one. Thanks to all who pointed out my false assumption!

  4. Steve Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    @Dave Nope not be default. Something to do with licensing costs no doubt. I personally don’t think I have ever watched a DVD on my PC to be honest.

  5. David Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Especially on the DVD playback side of things, for those that miss out, VLC is being updated for the Windows 8 experience.

  6. colindx1 Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    @Ryan: According to the FAQ on the download page, the code needs to be activated on or before 31 Jan.

    I suspect the unused codes will be invalidated sometime thereafter to prevent a third party market in them developing in competition to Microsoft.

  7. Alan F Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 3:43 pm


    I had exactly the same concerns so I built a virtual version of Windows 8 Pro and activated the OS in the normal way.I then disconnected all (virtual) NIC’s and typed in my Media Centre Code that worked just fine.

    From this I concluded that Media Centre is built into the original OS and the key just enables it with no further connection to MS required.



  8. Gareth B Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    This doesn’t seem to be working, I have tried it on various laptops with various email addresses and each time I get an error message

    We couldn’t process your order.
    If you think you have received this message in error, contact a Microsoft Customer Support representative.

  9. Alan F Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I have a similar problem. Once you have submitted your first email request it will not let you send any more.
    After the requisite 72 hours and still no key emailed to me I raised a ticket with Microsoft quoting my original online order number for Win 8 Pro Upgrade. They traced my order and emailed me the key 24 hours later.

  10. David Wright Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    @Dave – Windows traditionally has never been able to play DVDs. Only versions with Windows Media Center installed could play DVDs. Most users never notice this, because most PCs come with some form of DVD player software pre-installed (WinDVD, CyberDVD etc.).

  11. Ryan Thomas Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks all. It looks like I might need to do some work then as the upgrade to Win8 seemed to invalidate the admin password and WMC won’t update without it.

  12. Andrew Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Just to confirm the above post about the faq.
    I have just recieved an email reminding me I must activate my code by 31st January.

  13. steve Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    This advice is junk, add features is missing from many versions of W8 Pro N in the UK, rumor has it MS forgot to add it to the upgrade version.

  14. Andrew Says:
    January 26th, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Hmm, worked OK for me on both a retail boxed UK Win 8 Pro Upgrade version and a UK supplied Win 8 Pro OEM/System Builder install.

  15. Taylor Says:
    January 26th, 2013 at 5:17 am

    When I search “add features” and go to settings I don’t have the “add features to windows 8″ option all I have is “turn windows features on or off” and adding media center isn’t on that. Why don’t I see the add to windows 8?

  16. aD Says:
    January 26th, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Agree with Steve – the ‘Add features’ function is missing from my (and it seems many other’s) versions of Windows 8. I upgraded from 7 and am using the UK version.

  17. Alan Says:
    January 26th, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I don’t see “Add features” either. I upgraded from windows XP which is virtually a complete clean install.
    Have received email from Windows urging me to register my product key but unable to do so.

  18. Rexy Says:
    January 27th, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I keep getting “We couldn’t process your order.” when trying to download WMC from BALL ACHE!

  19. Tim Danton Says:
    January 28th, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I’ve raised the “Add features” question – that is, it not appearing in some installations of Windows 8 – with Microsoft, and if/when I get a response I’ll add it here.

  20. Coltch Says:
    January 28th, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Worked fine on my digital download upgrade from Microsoft

  21. Bobby Says:
    January 29th, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Yeah, looks like the tighta55e5 at Redmond have pulled the free upgrade early. As Rexy says all you get is “We could’t process your order”.
    PR/Customer satisfaction obviously isn’t their thing – especially when there’s extra bucks to be had.
    Guess it’s so long media center then!

  22. Mario Says:
    January 31st, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Seems to be that you have to be actually *using* a Windows 8 machine to register. Sucks.

  23. Azar Says:
    January 31st, 2013 at 11:35 am

    1. I got the code after the request made from my Windows 7 PC.
    2. The “Add features” function is disabled on the win 8 enterprise and all versions under MS volume license agreement. Retails are OK. use google, there is a Microsoft bulletin on this.

  24. Myke Says:
    January 31st, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    It’s not missing just hidden. I know this is a bit late, but navigate or find your way to the ’settings’ on W8, and look for the control panel window. The ‘Add Features’ ability is there. Worked for me on both a 32bit old Dell laptop, and my fresh install (over XP) of W8-64bit. The former was a download, and the latter a DVD install.

  25. Robert Says:
    February 1st, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Add Features is not available on Volume Licensing Software. So if you install from a VL copy of Win8, like most schools, add features is excluded.

  26. Benjamin Says:
    February 1st, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    If only I’d read this yesterday. Bother…

  27. David Says:
    March 3rd, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    i realized too late that i had to add features before the 31st of it tells me that i first have to activate my current version of the edition..yet its already activated..what should i do now?


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