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Microsoft mistakenly gifts Windows 8 pirates with a free activation key

Windows 8 logo stock

Microsoft's final copy of Windows 8 leaked online back in early August and pirates have been battling to work around Microsoft's activation technology ever since. Early attempts involved the use of third-party Key Management Services (KMS) servers that would activate a copy for 180 days, requiring a re-activation every six months. This work around has allowed Windows 8 pirates to use the operating system free of charge temporarily, but the software maker has now made it even easier to avoid paying for a key.

Microsoft is giving away a Media Center upgrade to Windows 8 Pro users until January 31st, and pirates have discovered that the key provided will fully activate a copy of Windows 8 that was previously temporarily activated through the KMS workaround. The blunder means pirates can download an illegitimate copy of Windows 8, temporarily activate it through KMS and then upgrade it fully to an activated copy of Windows 8 thanks to Microsoft's own Media Center upgrade offer. The Verge has confirmed the procedure works on a test machine and we have reached out to Microsoft for a comment on the method.

Thanks, Stephen!

The Verge
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