How Windows 8 Will Include Media Center As A Paid Add-On

How Windows 8 Will Include Media Center As A Paid Add-On

There was something of an outcry when Microsoft announced that Windows Media Center would only be available as an add-on to the Pro version of Windows 8. Microsoft has clarified that it will also be available to users of the Standard Windows 8 edition — but you will still have to effectively upgrade to Windows 8 Pro to get it.

As we’ve explained before, Windows 8 will come in just three editions: Standard, Pro and RT (the version designed for non-PC devices using ARM processors). When that version plan was announced, Microsoft said that Media Center would be an add-on (rather than a distinct release), and would only work with the Pro release. While we don’t have pricing yet, it’s clear that the Pro version will be the most expensive Windows 8 flavour. Media Center has been included in the consumer preview of Windows 8, and the news that it wouldn’t be part of the standard full release caused concern amongst enthusiasts for the platform.

In a post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft has now backed away from that stance a fractional amount and explained how the upgrade process will work. Users running Windows 8 Pro will be able to purchase a Windows 8 Media Center Pack add-on (via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel option). If you’re on Windows 8 Standard, you’ll be able to purchase a Windows 8 Pro Pack which upgrades your system to Windows 8 Pro and also adds the Media Center features. Pricing for those options hasn’t been released yet (we don’t know the prices of the general versions yet either). It’s also not clear if existing Media Center owners running Windows 7 will have a cheaper upgrade path to Pro.

The post also outlines why Microsoft has taken that approach. The short answer? It doesn’t want to include Media Center in every release because the cost of licensing codecs for playback increases the overall cost of Windows, and it thinks TV and physical media access is less relevant in an era where an increasing number of people consume video via the browser.

Making Windows Media Center available in Windows 8 [Building Windows 8]


  • kinda makes sense to me tbh… a lower end PC or even commercial PC shouldn’t need Media Center, however. i like how Live atm can be downloaded seperately for free atm, though you can’t blame them for wanting to cut licensing costs…

    • Totally agree. As much as I like WMC, I’ve found that its best use is as a PVR – and I just don’t care to watch much TV these days! When it comes to media my PC is mostly used for streaming content around my network rather than direct viewing and WMP/PS3 Media Server do the job of streaming just fine.

  • I don’t use Media Center, so if its exclusion makes the purchase price less then this is a good move from Microsoft. You would think price to upgrade would take you up to around the expected price (current Win7 Pro price, say) and provided the process of getting the add-on is simple there isn’t really much difference for users with the Pro version. I can’t see it being economical for Standard users and it is VERY strange that Microsoft isn’t just making the add-on available for that version.

    • Indeed, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I use the Home Premium editions of Windows 7 for all HTPC builds as that’s the lightest and cheapest edition that WMC is bundled into. Why in the world would we need to spend the extra cash, and waste additional system resources, for stuff that’s not needed on an HTPC?

  • This is ridiculous, what is Microsoft going to do, just make the 3 tv tuners I have obsolete unless I buy the most expensive version of windows 8 and then buy it as an add on?? Why not just offer it as a free download for those that can provide a legit serial number, then pay codec royalties per unique machine its installed on. Not only are you saving money by not including it in every copy, you’re then making money on top of that by selling what was previously free, just doesnt add up. Looks like windows 8 is going to be Vista 2.0. Here’s looking forward to Windows 9

    • Rowan, from what I can gather, Microsoft decided to cut it completely because of lack of use, but instead of turfing it into oblivion, they decided to make it a paid add on that will ensure that only people who really want it will purchase it. They don’t seem to be trying to make money of it, but rather cull a service while keeping it alive for those who really require it. The cost for it would most likely be covering codec royalties and also the software support required to ensure it is kept up to date and stable. I use Media center almost everyday, so I will be purchasing the upgrade, and whilst it would be better to not have to pay for it, I would rather have it and pay for it than not have it.

      • The codecs would be useful to those who aren’t using WMC but…it is not the only application that would make use of them, so removing codecs will have an impact elsewhere. I’m finding it hard not to believe it isn’t a cash grab, maybe not because they expect to get a whole lot of sales of this pack, but rather because its a convinient excuse to limit the number of out of the box codecs supported by the OS.

  • I’m a little surprised at some people who are considering in migrating to Win 8 with or without WMC.
    Yeah, MS could give Win 8 for free and I still wouldn’t use it…

    However, I do use WMC with additional plugins that make friends envious of what its capable of on a Win 7 HTPC (where’s that trumpet) lol

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