How to add Windows Media Center to Windows 8 free of charge

Did you buy Windows 8 Pro? If so, you're entitled to the Windows Media Center Pack for free--but only for a limited time.

Earlier this year I suggested that because Microsoft was unbundling Windows Media Center from Windows 8, fans of the former should avoid upgrading to the latter.

Thankfully, Microsoft plans to charge a reasonable (but still annoying) $9.99 for Windows Media Center. Given how few users actually use the product, I can live with that.

[ FREE DOWNLOAD: Windows 8 Deep Dive Report | Windows 8: The 10 biggest problems so far ]

Of course, free is always better. And if you have Windows 8 Pro, you can get Windows Media Center free for a limited time. Here's how:

1. Head to Microsoft's Feature Packs page, scroll down a bit, and fill out the short form to request a free product key.

2. Once you've received the e-mail with the key, press Windows-W (i.e. hold down the Windows key and tap W) to bring up the Settings menu, then type add features.

3. Tap or click Add features to Windows 8, then tap/click I already have a product key.

4. Type or paste in your product key, click Next, read every last word of the licensing agreement (kidding!), and then click Add features.

Presto! You've got Windows Media Center--after a reboot, of course. Some things never change.

This offer is good through January 31, 2013, so you've got time. However, if you don't have the Pro version of Windows 8 and you want WMC, you'll need to pony up $69.99 to get the Windows 8 Pro Pack. Something to think about as you ponder your OS upgrade plans.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

This story, "How to add Windows Media Center to Windows 8 free of charge" was originally published by PCWorld.

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