Looks like Thanksgiving festivities have muddled up Microsoft as they are mistakenly giving away Windows 8 Pro keys for free. A few individuals have discovered that an exploit on Microsoft’s download page lets you get a free copy of Window 8 Pro. If you try to download Microsoft’s free Windows Media Center upgrade, Windows 8 Pro gets permanently activated.
To protect itself from piracy, Microsoft makes use of its Key Management Service (KMS), built for corporate users, as a way to make Windows fully usable for up to 180 days before activation. With this system, Windows 8 copies can be activated across a local network without the need to input activation keys on each individual computer. Pirates however have found a way to pirate KMS servers, handing out keys over the Internet. Though with this system it has to be reactivated every 180 days using PC-unique keys, so multiple users can’t activate using the same key.
In comes the Windows Media Center exploit. According to Reddit user noveleven, when Windows is activated via the KMS, it will say “Windows is activated until…” a specific date. Once you install the upgrade though, it will just say “Windows was activated on…” and the activation date. This would in effect activate Windows 8 Pro permanently as the new upgrade key is used for future checks, instead of the old KMS key.