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Media Center Key Accidentally Gives Pirates Free Windows 8 Pro License 255

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the side-effects-include dept.
MrSeb writes "In an amusing twist that undoubtedly spells the end of some hapless manager's career, Microsoft has accidentally gifted pirates with a free, fully-functioning Windows 8 license key. As you have probably surmised, this isn't intentional — Microsoft hasn't suddenly decided to give pirates an early Christmas present (though the $40 upgrade deal from Windows 8 Release Preview is something of a pirate amnesty). ... The bug involves the Key Management Service, which is part of Microsoft's Volume Licensing system. Pirates have already hacked the KMS to activate Windows 8 for 180 days — but this is just a partial activation. Now it turns out that the free Media Center Pack license keys that Microsoft is giving out until January 31 2013 can be used on a KMS-activated copy of Windows 8 to turn it into a fully licensed copy of Windows 8 Pro. "
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Media Center Key Accidentally Gives Pirates Free Windows 8 Pro License

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  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:01PM (#42055941)
    In order to get to the point where you can request the Media Center license, you first have to activate using a command line and kms server [itsupportonline.com] (internal or external)
    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @01:28PM (#42057253) Journal

      Dirty needles accidentally give users free AIDS.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:03PM (#42055961)

    Hey, we're giving our OS away for free, no license or hack needed!

    Anyone?

    Hello?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:17PM (#42056175)

      Q: What do Ubuntu and Windows 8 have in common?

      A: You can get both for free using bittorrent.

      Q: Which of the two features unusable applications with a convoluted, misprioritized UI designed by a retarded aspie?

      A: That's a trick question - both do!

      -- Ethanol-fueled

    • by Verunks (1000826)

      Hey, we're giving our OS away for free, no license or hack needed!

      Anyone?

      Hello?

      this is not true, they check if your windows 8 is activated they just don't check if a valid serial was used, that's why you need to activate your windows 8 with a fake kms server before doing this

      • by Ferzerp (83619)

        I've never understood this bizarre belief that "Oh, it's activated, that means I have a legitimate copy".

        So it activates it, you still have an unlicensed copy. If you were a corporation and exploited this, let's see how the civil court views your "free license".

      • by dubbreak (623656)
        If you check the subject of the parent (which your post is still using) they were referring to Ubuntu. Implying people will jump through hoops to get a free version of Windows when you can get a free as in beer (no hacks, no license required) OS, even on a disc mailed to you.

        Yes it's not true that Windows is being given away with no hack or license.. that's not what the parent posted.
        • by Cito (1725214)

          who wants ubuntu anymore anyhow?

          fuck an adware OS and use Debian, Ubuntu is just a ripoff copy of Debian anyhow,

          either be a real linux user and run Slackware and learn to compile your own binaries for your system, or use Debian if you are too scared to compile

          the rest of the debian ripoffs are pure shit

      • by Splab (574204)

        I think the common thing here on Slashdot is to say Whooosh and point out GP is talking about canonical, the guys who make Ubuntu...

  • Too expensive. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZorinLynx (31751)

    Windows 8 really needs to be less expensive. The cost is ridiculous. Even Apple, King of Expensive Shit, sells their OS upgrades for $20.

    Come on, Microsoft. Stop being asstards.

    • Re:Too expensive. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sez Zero (586611) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:07PM (#42056019) Journal
      Apple sells hardware. Microsoft sells software.

      Telling MS to sell Windows cheaper is like saying that Apple should be giving away iPhones.
      • by atheos (192468)
        "Apple sells hardware. Microsoft sells software. " Mission statements aside, they both sell software and are in competition with each other.
        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @01:07PM (#42056971)

          "Apple sells hardware. Microsoft sells software. " Mission statements aside, they both sell software and are in competition with each other.

          Apple is a hardware company (that also makes software to support the hardware) that has been slowly pivoting to sell online services and serve as the middle man in content delivery.

          Microsoft is a software company (that sometimes also makes hardware to move the software) that has been slowly pivoting to sell online services as serve as the middleman in content delivery.

          Apple dropping prices on iPhones and Microsoft dropping prices on Windows and similar software both make sense in that context -- where they are competing with firms that are already optimized to sell online services and serve as the middle man in content delivery and which are also delivering hardware and software -- at low prices -- to support the online services / content delivery business (e.g., Google, Amazon.)

        • by Pieroxy (222434)

          Since you decided to play hard to understand, here it is all laid out for you:

          Microsoft's business model revolves around selling software.

          Apple's business model revolves around selling hardware.

          This is not to say Apple doesn't make software, but they make software for the purpose of selling hardware. While Microsoft makes hardware for the purpose of selling software.

      • by telchine (719345) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:35PM (#42056463)

        Apple sells hardware. Microsoft sells software.

        [fanboy]Apple sells dreams, Microsoft sells nightmares[/fanboy]

      • by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @02:44PM (#42058293)

        Warren Buffett in the late 90s as a traveling buddy of Bill Gates was asked if he invested in Microsoft and Warren replied that he didn't invest in things in which he didn't understand the long term profitability.

        Warren in retrospect was entirely 100% right. If you can't come up with good reasons for people to buy your products at what is attractive to them, they will figure another product to buy.

        Probably 95% of the users of MS Word could do everything they normally need on Open Office software. That doesn't bode well for MS long term.

        • by udippel (562132)

          It is a pity that I have no mod points anymore.

          This is not only true (Buffet and his statement), it is valid and proven. Since 2000 the share prices of MS have been hoovering around then same level.
          Gee, apply some common sense, that's enough. Like Facebook. How many people can be sustained by this planet? And even if every single one has a Facebook account, there is a natural limit of potential users. And then??
          MS was similar. A huge advance in the 1990, no competition, effectively. (IBM was just too half-h

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Apples is more like updates.
      That you pay 20 bucks yearly for them to remove features.

      I really doubt price is the issue for most techies with Win8. and for a lot of folk it's practically free. also if in USA, you could have gotten it for 15 bucks(as an update). but of course this way you can get it free so... but it's not like it's one or two licenses MS has given for free away anyhow.

      their strategy is to get as many people as they can on Win8 and the appstore within it.

      what's ridiculous is published licensi

      • by jandrese (485)
        Better than paying $200 every 4 years to remove features.
    • Re:Too expensive. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:19PM (#42056227)

      £15 - £40 for an upgrade is too expensive for a piece of software you probably use day in day out every single day?

      If that's too expensive then what the fuck do you call every other peice of software on the planet that you probably get far less usage out of such as computer games that last for about 6 hrs play time and cost the same price?

      Of all the criticisms of Windows 8, price isn't one of them. It's the first Windows OS that actually has sane pricing options.

      • That is promotional pricing, Up till now, upgrades have been >100 and full version have been between $250 and $350 depending on what version you get.

        I'm waiting to see what the prices look like once the promotion is over. I've read rumors that they're going to price things a little more reasonably, but I'll reserve judgement until I see them in black and white.

        (And yes, I bought the the Win8 upgrade. At $40, why not? That's only, like, 4 starbucks coffees.)

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Forty bucks is twice what an Apple customer pays for an upgrade. I paid $0 for kubuntu, which has features W8 lacks while W8 has nothing kubuntu lacks except loss of productivity with that stupid metro interface. I just don't see how anyone would pay forty bucks for that turd.

        • by amorsen (7485)

          To stay current, you need to pay Apple once a year. Windows on the other hand gets upgrades every 3 years, and you can easily skip a version.

        • by udippel (562132)

          Nice. You got a positive modding so far. Had I mod points, I might have given 'redundant', since this is what anyone could have read on /. since its inception. And as a GNULinuxer myself, I have to state clearly that W8(XP/7) has a few things that give it a distinct advantage. Like running MS office (for those who probably wrongly assume they need it), running a lot of software exclusively (in my case OrCAD).

    • by SrLnclt (870345)
      It is cheap this time around. $40 to get an upgrade from a previous version of windows, and 98% of people already have a previous version.

      I usually run the most current version of windows, but never actually purchased it (aside from when Win98 shipped on a HP machine I bought back in 2000). Typically I go through the cat and mouse game when MS occasionally catches up to the pirates and limits updates or other software (like media center) without extra activation checks. For $40 this time around I fig
      • This. I was actually surprised that people think Windows 8 is expensive. It seems to be cheapest Microsoft OS for a long, long time.
    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      Windows 8 Pro upgrade is $39 (digital) or $69 (physical) [microsoftstore.com]. Windows 7 Pro was $199 for the upgrade (Home Premium was $119) at release. I would call an 80% (or 66%, depending on the version) reduction in price pretty significant.

    • by arkhan_jg (618674)

      Even Apple, King of Expensive Shit, sells their OS upgrades for $20.

      Well, they do now that OSX upgrades largely consist of tying it ever tighter to the App Store, iOS and iCloud. Plus a few driver updates to support the new expensive shiny, while end-of-lifing two year old versions of the OS and hardware older than 5 years.

      It wasn't that long ago that Apple were charging $129 for Leopard. Plus, you know, the 40% profit margin on hardware helps a bit.

    • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:03PM (#42059299)

      To get a legitimate license for Mac OS, you need to pay for an expensive hardware dongle.

  • huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:07PM (#42056005)

    What's this license key and activation nonsense?

    Sincerely,
    Confused Linux User.

  • by Hans Adler (2446464) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:08PM (#42056021)

    As far as I know Microsoft *does* have a strong interested in being pirated in those jurisdictions in which they are not going to sell much anything. It's a question of market share and staying the monopolist.

    • by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:18PM (#42056203)
      I was about to say the same thing. It's kind of like how Adobe "allows" their photo shop suite to be pirated. They don't formally allow it and will adamantly deny it, but the truth is you get high school and collage students using the product for free, then when they get to the corporate world, where the money for Adobe really is, the corporations by the product that considered the norm for the field.

      Right now MS is having a hard time pushing Windows 8 few individuals want to use it and there's no way any major corporate entity is going to switch because they don't want to spend money to buy a product that's probably going to need weeks or months to for people learn to use properly when the existing product works just fine. By having Win8 pirated a wider population of individuals will be willing to use and get use to using it, which will be beneficial and essential to having Win8 adopted by the larger corporate community.
      • by arkhan_jg (618674)

        It's kind of like how Adobe "allows" their photo shop suite to be pirated

        Not any more. The site licenced version of CS6 suite is an absolute bastard to bulk install via automated means legitimately due to the heavy-handed DRM and online activation.

        If they didn't care about piracy, they wouldn't make it such a pain in the arse for legit buyers.

        Ditto goes for Microsoft - the old 'add the volume licence key to the image and done' method was far superior to the KMS method where you have to add an activation pr

        • If microsoft don't care about piracy, they've got a funny way of making their legit customers jump through ever increasing online activation hoops for shits and giggles.

          Sorry to say, but based on the fact that DRM schemes only affect legit customers, since the first thing pirates do is subvert or strip out the DRM, nothing you said has anything to do deterring piracy and has everything to do with making it look like they're deterring piracy. Basically all it does is make it appear to legit customers and stock holders that there and DRM is a required solution, while only making it mildly difficult for pirates, until one person figures out the newest scheme, then booty ahoy!

    • by causality (777677)

      As far as I know Microsoft *does* have a strong interested in being pirated in those jurisdictions in which they are not going to sell much anything. It's a question of market share and staying the monopolist.

      Imagine if Microsoft openly acknowledged that and stopped pretending that all piracy is always bad for them. In fact they could even give a certain number of copies away, legitimately, in those jurisdictions and justify it by the many ways they benefit from increased marketshare. I wonder how other software companies (not to mention related copyright interests like the *AAs) would react. It would be interesting to see how they try to spin it.

  • by hawks5999 (588198) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:09PM (#42056051)
    This sounds less like a career limiting move a d more like a marketing ploy to get a bigger installed base for Vista 2.0 (or is it Millennium Edition 3.0?)
    • Yeah, I was like, "Wait, Win8 is being pirated? By who?" Those that want it, or will end up with it, are those that are too stupid/ignorant to know how to avoid it or get something better.
  • by cheap.computer (1036494) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:10PM (#42056061)
    I guess msft read the recent reports of abysmal sales for Windows 8 and decided to use its proven strategy of promoting piracy of Windows to drive up adoption.
    • by causality (777677) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:36PM (#42056481)

      I guess msft read the recent reports of abysmal sales for Windows 8 and decided to use its proven strategy of promoting piracy of Windows to drive up adoption.

      I really don't understand what they're doing with Win 8.

      I recently bought a netbook that came with Windows 7. I strongly prefer Linux, so it wasn't very long before I repartitioned the drive and installed the OS of my choice. But before I did that, I decided to gave Windows 7 a try, just for the hell of it. I was a bit impressed, actually.

      I generally don't like the Windows way of doing things. I prefer the transparency of a *nix system, the storage of important settings in plain text files, the central package manager instead of being nagged about updates for lots of individual programs, the way I don't need malware scanners, the ease with which open source programs can be modified and studied, the fact that drivers are generally maintained with the kernel and not by third parties, the power of the command line, the ease of automation and scripting, the huge variety of choices for graphical desktop, the simple fact that my Linux distro of choice (Gentoo) doesn't assume I'm clueless and thus doesn't get in my way, the ease with which I can find out what caused a problem and fix it and it stays fixed, and the general Open Source philosophy.

      Those things about Windows that I don't like are not going to change anytime soon. So it's just not for me. But, having said all that, when I tried Windows 7 I thought that Windows had come a long way. It was stable, solid, and slick. It seemed to me to be what most people wanted: a highly improved and polished XP.

      Then I learn about Windows 8 and I'm wondering what the hell the people at Microsoft are thinking. It's as though they want to sabotage themselves. What do they hope to gain here? Is it just that the days of Win 9x made them too arrogant and they don't appreciate that people have more options now? Or what? I haven't seen them pull something like this since either Microsoft Bob or Windows Millenium.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        They want to be Apple. Windows 8 is all about Metro and the marketplace lock-in. They want a cut of all software installed.

      • by SEE (7681) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @01:55PM (#42057593) Homepage

        What was Microsoft thinking? Thinking had nothing to do with it; they had no choice.

        See, Windows 98 SE was followed by Windows Me, which sucked more.
        Windows Me was followed by Windows XP, which sucked less.
        Windows XP was followed by Windows Vista, which sucked more.
        Windows Vista was followed by Windows 7, which sucked less.

        Windows 7 accordingly had to be followed by a "sucked more" release.

        • by causality (777677)

          What was Microsoft thinking? Thinking had nothing to do with it; they had no choice.

          See, Windows 98 SE was followed by Windows Me, which sucked more. Windows Me was followed by Windows XP, which sucked less. Windows XP was followed by Windows Vista, which sucked more. Windows Vista was followed by Windows 7, which sucked less.

          Windows 7 accordingly had to be followed by a "sucked more" release.

          Heh that's pretty funny (because it's true). I believe you have identified the pattern!

          Still ... I don't like Microsoft one bit, but I would compromise my objectivity if I didn't admit that they have some seriously talented employees who really could do better. Is it that they don't want to break this pattern? Maybe they think a combination of vendorlock and "next one will be better really!" increases sales more than consistent improvements could? Or are they simply a one-trick pony in this regard?

  • Freebie (Score:4, Funny)

    by GerryHattrick (1037764) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:12PM (#42056089)
    Just admit that you can't even *give* it away.
  • As I surmised (Score:5, Informative)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:16PM (#42056161)

    In an amusing twist that undoubtedly spells the end of some hapless manager's career, Microsoft has accidentally gifted pirates with a free, fully-functioning Windows 8 license key. As you have probably surmised, this isn't intentional

    Yes, in fact, this is exactly what I surmised after seeing the word "accidentally". That usually implies lack of intention.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:21PM (#42056259) Journal

    On the upside, you can have a fully activated copy of Win 8 with relatively little effort.

    On the downside, it'll still be Windows 8.

    I think I'll pass, thanks.

  • Can this key be revoked after, say, a year or so, forcing the (by now committed) users to shell out or be locked out of their systems?

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:25PM (#42056321)
    I would not be surprised if this "accident" was not intentional to gain some marketshare.
  • by leuk_he (194174) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:36PM (#42056489) Homepage Journal

    This is not a valid license. It is just a key that happens to work arround the current version of their anti-piracy control. But if you use this, and get an audit, you will have to shell out the full amount of a retail key ( 4 to six times the the price of a basic oem version). It might stop working at any time if you apply updates supplied by MS. They know what keys are published, and can block them if they want.

    This is very disappointing coming from a site that is very rigorous when it comes to the free GPL license. The MS license has at least to be paid.

  • ...but Windows versions never catch on until people realize how useful their "killer feature" is.

    XP's killer feature was comparative stability. Vista's was shiny-pretty value and natively playing well with a lot of things that previously needed third-party software. 7's was polish. 8's is almost entirely the touch interface. If touchscreens on decent machines become more prevalent, people will fucking love Windows 8.

  • Back when XP came out, the upgrade disk was about half the price of a "full retail" disk. If you loaded the upgrade disk on a new build, it would ask you for the CD of your previous version. All you had to do was borrow an ME disk and put it in; then you could go right ahead and load XP from the "upgrade" disk.

    • by geekboybt (866398)

      I've not tested Windows 8, but 7 was even easier: Install it once on a bare disk with no key, and then "upgrade" that install. No need to scrounge up a disk from a previous edition.

      There's really no point in doing that, though, when the OEM license is roughly the same cost as the upgrade.

  • In an amusing twist that undoubtedly spells the end of some hapless manager's career, Microsoft has accidentally gifted pirates with a free, fully-functioning Windows 8 license key.

    This falsely assumes that Microsoft wouldn't want Win8 to be pirated, when that's the very thing that'll help ensure their continued dominance.

    (It'd be safe to assume that the higher-ups at Microsoft are also aware of this...)

  • Every version of Windows so far has either been directly copyable, had token copy protection that is trivially easy to circumvent or had a 'leaked' registration hack emerge within a few weeks of its release.
    For a method involving remote online validation, It really isn't hard at all to think of a scheme where validation hacks wouldn't be even possible.
    At some point, you have to conclude this weak security is intentional, as are the leaks too. Its just another way for Microsoft to keep their product on most

  • Why would anyone pirate Windows ME, Vista or 8?
  • Microsoft and piracy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:43PM (#42059047)

    It has been known for years, and publicly admitted by Bill Gatess 14 years ago that piracy is Microsoft's key to building and keeping market share. While Ballmer has threatened in the past to turn up the anti-piracy knob to 11, that was all bluster. The goal is not to eliminate piracy, but make it just inconvenient enough for most people.

    If you are willing to jump through the hoops to pirate Windows and Office, Microsoft would rather you do that than try any alternative at all. Because they know that those who try alternatives and get by with "good enough" are gone for good.

    Bill Gates' original "Open Letter to Hobbyists" can be completely disregarded as the writing of a naive young man soon to figure out that piracy builds market share.

    My "diagnosis" of the situation is that this was not by accident. My prediction for the future is that Microsoft will not fix this, or at least make a half-hearted attempt to make it look like it's harder. They will not close this hole.

    --
    BMO

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