Licensing loophole allows pirates to activate Windows 8 Pro

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An inadvertent side-effect of the free Windows Media Center update being offered is that it appears to open Windows 8 Pro to piracy. The trick involves temporarily activating a copy of Windows 8 Pro using its Key Management Feature.

The KMF is a feature designed for large organizations, so that they can easily activate large numbers of Windows 8 systems. By enabling a copy of Windows 8 Pro through a temporary 180-day KMS activation, a pirate could login and use the product key in the Windows Media Center update to trick the system into thinking that the product is licensed, effectively activating it permanently.

The Windows Media Center Pack was initially available only as a paid add-on, though the company bowed to pressure and started offering it as a free upgrade for Windows 8 Pro shortly after the launch of Windows 8. The free offer is valid until January 31, 2013.

At the moment, the most likely option would be for Microsoft to end the free Media Center download offer prematurely. On the other hand, the aggressive price-point of Windows 8 may also mean that Microsoft will simply ignore the loophole for now--figuring that pirates willing to jump through the KMF hoops to save a few dollars will find other ways, even if this loophole is closed.

For more:
- check out this article at The Register
- check out this article at VentureBeat

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