Essential Guide

Getting up to date with Windows 8 tools and terminology

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How to add Windows 8.1 Media Center to Windows 8 Pro after the fact

Windows 8.1 Media Center isn't bundled with the OS, but it is possible to download the recording program and troubleshoot potential problems.

How do I activate Windows 8 Pro with Media Center?

For Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP Media Center Edition users who like to watch and record TV with Windows Media Center, it was a disappointment to learn that Microsoft did not bundle Media Center in Windows 8.

However, you can add it to Windows 8 Pro by purchasing the Windows 8.1 Media Center Pack ($9.99 U.S.), or you can upgrade Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center with the Windows 8.1 Pro Pack ($99.99). You will receive a product key for installation upon purchase. Then, in Windows 8, search for "add features" and run the Add Features wizard to install the Media Center Pack.

Microsoft requires you to activate Windows Media Center after installation. When attempting to activate, you might get the error message "Unable to activate Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center or Windows 8 Pro with Media Center." This message will appear if your Windows 8 installation isn't genuine, and the fix is to install Windows 8 with the product key you received when purchasing the operating system (whether it came preinstalled on the computer, from a store or legitimate website).

If that's not the case, try running the Add Features wizard again and select the option for activating by phone. Alternately, search for and run the SLUI 04 app, which also enables you to activate by phone.

After selecting your country or region, a screen displays with the appropriate dial-in number for activating your product. Follow the prompts to complete activation.

If you still have problems, remember that you get a short period of free tech support when purchasing one of the packs that install Windows Media Center. Call Microsoft tech support for assistance, and have the product key available.

About the author:
Kim Lindros is a full-time writer, content developer and project manager who has worked around IT since the early 1990s. She co-authored MTA Microsoft Technology Associate Exam 98-349 Windows Operating System Fundamentals (Wiley, 2012) and PC Basics with Windows 7 and Office 2010 (Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010), among other textbooks. Lindros has also developed numerous college and corporate courses focused on IT security, Microsoft technologies and Microsoft Office.

This was first published in April 2014

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