How to add Media Center to Windows 8 Release Preview

Media Center is missing in action from the new Release Preview. So, how do you get it?

You can restore Media Center to Windows 8 for free, at least in the Release Preview.
You can restore Media Center to Windows 8 for free, at least in the Release Preview. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft has followed through on its promise to remove Media Center from Windows 8. But you can still install it in the new Release Preview.

Those of you who downloaded yesterday's Windows 8 Release Preview will notice that Media Center is missing from the list of apps on the Start screen and Apps screen. A new Windows FAQ page explains how to grab it for free via the following steps:

  1. From the Metro Start screen or Apps screen, hover to the upper right or left corner of the screen until you see the Charms bar.
  2. Click on the Search charm at the top of the bar.
  3. Enter the term "add features" in the search box. Select the Settings category under the search box and then click the option for "Add features to Windows 8" from the search results.
  4. In the Add features to Windows 8 screen, click on the option for "I already have a product key."
  5. Enter or paste the following key: MBFBV-W3DP2-2MVKN-PJCQD-KKTF7. After the key is accepted, click Next.
  6. Accept the license terms on the next screen and then click Add features.
  7. Windows will install Media Center and then reboot your PC.
  8. After your PC reboots, you should see the tile for Media Center appear on the Start screen.
  9. Click on the tile, and Windows will jump to the Desktop to launch the Media Center that many Windows users know and love.

Media Center is a free option for the Windows 8 Release Preview, but it'll cost you if you want it in the final version of the OS.

Microsoft recently stirred up a ruckus by revealing that Media Center would not be bundled with the final edition of Windows 8. Instead, it will be available only as a paid upgrade to Windows 8 Professional.

Users of the standard version of Windows will need to pay for a Windows 8 Pro Pack, while those who have Windows 8 Professional will need to buy a Windows 8 Media Center Pack.

The exclusion of Media Center has upset people who use it for watching and recording TV shows and playing their own media content. But more importantly, without Media Center, Windows 8 will offer no built-in way to play DVDs since the new version of Media Player will lack native DVD support.

Microsoft tried to justify the decision by blaming it on the high cost of codecs, which it didn't want to pass along to all customers. But ultimately, the whole removal and upgrade scheme may confuse a lot of Windows 8 users, many of whom will already be confused by the vast number of changes in the new OS.

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