HOW TO: Install 8.1 WMC with just the WMC key

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HOW TO: Install 8.1 WMC with just the WMC key

#1

Post by DavidinCT » Fri May 24, 2019 12:29 am

Hey all,

This topic comes up a lot I have noticed but, no one has done a DYI on it. A lot of people have said, you cant download WMC any more adding your key. OR you have just your WMC upgrade key and cant install 8.1 with it. This process requires a VALID Windows Media Center key for 8.1 (unless your going to some back door method.. I will not discuss this). Following this will get a CLEAN install of 8,1 with WMC with out trying to download it from Microsoft or needing the 8/8.1 key to install.

A little background. Installing WMC on 8.1 required 2 keys. Your basic 8/8.1 key and your Pro-WMC upgrade key. If you didn't know you could use your 8.1 key for another machine(if it was a retail key) if your WMC machine is already activated with your WMC key. The WMC key is a upgrade to 8.1 Professional with WMC.

To do this, you will need an ISO with 8.1 ProfessionalWMC. You can download this DIRECTLY from Microsoft but, will not come down as a ISO but, as an ESD (more on this later). This is the current version of 8.1 with WMC.

One of the critical things on this back door way to install is to disconnect from the internet

If one tries to install with a internet connection active, this whole thing will not work as it will not accept the install key.

For English, US this is what you want...
http://vg.dl.ws.microsoft.com/dl/conten ... 41f6d6.esd

for other languages (just make sure your downloading a ProfessionalWMC image), go here and find your link and download your ESD.. (these links are from Mydigitallife)

https://pastebin.com/raw/Cd74x2Mg

SO you downloaded it... It's a ESD file.. what is that and how can I install it ?
It's a Microsoft Electronic Software Download You need a simple converter to convert this into a ISO file so you can burn to a DVD or create a bootable USB drive (the Windows 7 download tool should be able to do it).

So how do I convert a ESD to ISO ?

Download ESDtoISO
https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21A ... D5563AD391

Extract it once downloaded, take your ESD and place it in the folder with it, then run the ESDtoISO.CMD(Right click and run as an admin) and create a ISO...

more info here (Max 3 URL limit, sorry): h t t p s :// www tenforums com/tutorials/2570-esd-iso-create-bootable-iso-windows-10-esd-file.html

Now that you have an ISO and you have found a way to burn it to a DVD or create a USB drive.... Start Installing your ISO of Windows 8.1 w/WMC.

The NEXT thing we need is an INSTALL key... This is a temp key just to install. This will NOT activate so don't even try. Install with this key RR3BN-3YY9P-9D7FC-7J4YF-QGJXW

Finish installing Windows 8.1... Once installed, look though the start menu and you will find Windows Media Center included in a FRESH installed Windows 8.1 install

After installed, Hit the start menu, in the upper right hand comer, click the search ICON and search for "Activate Windows" , Click Change KEY and put in your Windows Media Center key...and activate !

This is how you get a CLEAN install of Windows Media Center on 8.1 with only using your WMC upgrade key. I have confirmed this works, as I rebuilt my 8.1 Partition have used this before on others PCs..
-Dave
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Windows Media Center certified and WMC MVP 2010 - 2012

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#2

Post by 12noon » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:12 am

I'm going to try to get a Windows 8.1 Pro WMC machine up and running soon. To that end, I converted the ESD to ISO, and it seemed to work fine but it did display this error:

Code: Select all

============================================================
Integrating Generic WMC Tokens
============================================================

The system cannot find the file specified.
It seems to be from this line in the script:

Code: Select all

bin\wimlib-imagex.exe update ISOFOLDER\sources\install.wim 1 <bin\wim-update.txt 1>nul 2>nul
Is this expected? Is it a problem? Is there any way to fix it? Thank you very much for your post and assistance.
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#3

Post by DavidinCT » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:51 am

First of all, copy all the files to a folder in the root of the drive that your doing this on.

For example

c:\temp

If your going deep like c:\users\my name\Downloads it might have an issue.

Make sure you running it as an administrator (You need to right click and run as an admin).

Did it give you an ISO ?

Let me know if this still does not work, I'll re-download them tomorrow and try it again... It's been a while but, being a systems admin, I don't see a reason why it would not work.

Another TIP for installing. Disconnect from the internet when installing. It could try to validate the key over the internet and fail on you. It can sometimes do that.
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#4

Post by 12noon » Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:30 am

Yes, it did give me an ISO. I ran cmd.exe as administrator. I unzipped the ESDtoISO ZIP into F:\ESDtoISO and put the ESD file in the drive's root. I entered a relative path when the script prompted me for it. After seeing your reply, I tried again but put the ESD in the same folder as the CMD script. This time, of course, it didn't prompt me for a path to the ESD, but I got the same error (and an ISO). Here's the full output. Everything looks fine except for those generic WMC tokens.

Code: Select all

============================================================
Creating Setup Media Layout...
============================================================

Applying image 1 ("Windows Setup Media") from "F:\ESDtoISO\9600.17053.winblue_refresh.141120-0031_x64fre_client_professionalwmc_en-us-ir5_cpwmca.esd" to directory "ISOFOLDER\"
Creating files: 2962 of 2962 (100%) done
Extracting file data: 426 MiB of 426 MiB (100%) done
Applying metadata to files: 2962 of 2962 (100%) done
Done applying WIM image.

============================================================
Creating boot.wim file...
============================================================

Writing LZX-compressed data using 16 threads
618 MiB of 618 MiB (uncompressed) written (100% done)

Writing LZX-compressed data using 16 threads
131 MiB of 131 MiB (uncompressed) written (100% done)

============================================================
Creating install.esd file...
============================================================

Writing LZMS-compressed data using 1 thread
7145 MiB of 7145 MiB (uncompressed) written (100% done)

============================================================
Integrating Generic WMC Tokens
============================================================

The system cannot find the file specified.

============================================================
Creating ISO file...
============================================================

CDIMAGE 2.53m CD-ROM and DVD-ROM Premastering Utility
Copyright (C) Microsoft, 1993-2007. All rights reserved.
For Microsoft internal use only.


Scanning source tree (2000 files in 802 directories)
Scanning source tree complete (2096 files in 867 directories)

Computing directory information complete

Image file is 3464921088 bytes (before optimization)

Writing 2096 files in 867 directories to en_windows_8.1_pro_WMC_ir5_x64_dvd.iso

100% complete

Storage optimization saved 456 files, 92153856 bytes (3% of image)

After optimization, image file is 3379759104 bytes
Space saved because of embedding, sparseness or optimization = 92153856

Done.

Press any key to exit.
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#5

Post by DavidinCT » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:20 pm

Ah, I tried it this morning and got the same error. so I created a VM, I disconnected from the internet and Installed with the KEY I had above.

After install, I had a un-activated (as expected) version of Windows 8.1 and yes Windows Media Center was installed and ran fine.

After looking into this, it appears it was a back door method to install with out a key that was added to this. It should have no affect here as you are installing with a WMC install key.

No worries, the ISO is correct and will work as i said.
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#6

Post by 12noon » Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:22 pm

Thank you very much for taking the time to look into this for me. I really appreciate it!
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#7

Post by DavidinCT » Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:01 pm

12noon wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:22 pm
Thank you very much for taking the time to look into this for me. I really appreciate it!
No problem. I also wanted to make sure it still worked for people looking to do this. I can 100% confirm that the process I listed above still works perfectly.

The ONLY thing is DISCONNECT the internet while installing. This is a big one, once installed, then connect internet.
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#8

Post by unclebun » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:58 am

Does anybody know if you can activate a Win 8.1 Pro key that has never been used before? I bought one that I am fairly certain was an original one, based on the box, shrinkwrap, etc. I used this method to install, which worked, and then put in my key, but when it went to activate, it came back with a message that the number was not valid.

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#9

Post by IT Troll » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:32 am

Thanks for this, I had no idea Microsoft produced a Windows 8 installer with Media Center built in. I've created an en-gb one as an insurance policy.
:thumbup:

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#10

Post by 12noon » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:32 pm

After I followed this procedure, I realized I need a key for Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center. I only have keys for the Media Center pack MS sold years ago, and they don't work.

Does anyone know if a legal way to obtain a key for W8.1 Pro w/MC?

Of course, MS doesn't sell them anymore. I don't see any on eBay.

Sticking with Windows 7 may be my only option, which isn't great since it doesn't support modern CPUs. (I'm considering installing Windows 10 Pro then installing 7MC in a VM and seeing how that goes. Ugh.)
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#11

Post by V1de0Lovr » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:19 am

Damn, I assumed this would work with a Pro Pack key, but apparently not. But looking at the OP again, he seems to be saying that you can reuse your Windows 8 key for another machine if the first machine was upgraded to Pro Pack. My first machine was Acer OEM, so I don't think that key would work on a different machine. Windows 8.1 Pro keys are abundant on eBay, as well as Pro Pack, but the question is, does Pro Pack work with Pro key, or does it have to be non-Pro?

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#12

Post by DavidinCT » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:10 pm

12noon wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:32 pm
After I followed this procedure, I realized I need a key for Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center. I only have keys for the Media Center pack MS sold years ago, and they don't work.

Does anyone know if a legal way to obtain a key for W8.1 Pro w/MC?

Of course, MS doesn't sell them anymore. I don't see any on eBay.

Sticking with Windows 7 may be my only option, which isn't great since it doesn't support modern CPUs. (I'm considering installing Windows 10 Pro then installing 7MC in a VM and seeing how that goes. Ugh.)
Well, if your worried about guide data, 7 or 8.1 is going to die soon. And if your worries are about modern CPUs, 8.1 suffers from the same problem. With a little googling you can find a HACK to allow newer CPUS to work with 7 or 8.1. You would need to stop updates or it could break (if you want a STABLE WMC machine, you should disable updates). I think the largest performance boost on WMC was a video card upgrade, it allowed me to play bigger movies and 4K stuff. Windows 7 has better driver support than 8.1 as video cards go.

Truth be told, Media Center was designed around single core CPUs, If you update to a top of the line CPU, things don't get too much faster.

As for getting a key for 8.1, it can be a little challenging, keep an eye on the for sale area on here and keep an eye on eBay, they do pop up time to time.

YOU DO need to follow my process to activate through, and disconnect from the internet when installing, last I heard you cant download WMC any more from Microsoft...

And there is nothing wrong with Windows 7 for WMC, unless your worried about updates (again, updates should be disabled on a WMC machine), and 8.1 would be your only option but, there is a "back door" to get security updates on Windows 7.... It didn't take long for that one.
-Dave
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#13

Post by DavidinCT » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:17 pm

V1de0Lovr wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:19 am
Damn, I assumed this would work with a Pro Pack key, but apparently not. But looking at the OP again, he seems to be saying that you can reuse your Windows 8 key for another machine if the first machine was upgraded to Pro Pack. My first machine was Acer OEM, so I don't think that key would work on a different machine. Windows 8.1 Pro keys are abundant on eBay, as well as Pro Pack, but the question is, does Pro Pack work with Pro key, or does it have to be non-Pro?
Just a quick look and I don't fully know if this is 100% legit but, It appears Windows 8.1 Pro pack with WMC keys for $35...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Microsoft-Wind ... SwZRZde-xv

It shows WMC on the label. I would do my install as said above, when your in 8.1 with WMC installed, I would try one of these keys, and if they activate, you have 8.1, if they do not, open a case with the seller, tell them it does not work, and even ebay will step in to give you a refund if the seller gives you crap
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#14

Post by DavidinCT » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:47 pm

Of course I booted up my 8.1 partition today and I get greeted with "Your PC needs to be Repaired" I guess I know what I am doing today...sigh...
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#15

Post by 12noon » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:35 pm

Thanks for the information. I'm not worried about guide data because I use EPG123 with Schedules Direct. Without getting into too much detail, I was building a new machine to replace my secondary 7MC machine (which is a hot backup for my primary 7MC machine and a test bed for my Typecast EPG application), and I thought I'd use 8.1 because it's still supported. When my 8.1 keys didn't work, I tried using Windows 7, and the lack of CPU support (even with hacks) soured me on that idea. So, I'm falling back to just using Windows 10 on the machine, using VLC to play TV programs I copy over my network from my primary (now only) WMC machine, and using a VM for 7MC on my Windows 10 dev machine to test Typecast. Rather than running a hot backup, I'll squirrel away one or two sets of old hardware to replace my primary 7MC machine in case it ever suffers a hardware failure. It looks like I'm getting closer to cutting cable and using YouTube TV...

Thanks again.
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#16

Post by DavidinCT » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:17 pm

12noon wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:35 pm
Thanks for the information. I'm not worried about guide data because I use EPG123 with Schedules Direct. Without getting into too much detail, I was building a new machine to replace my secondary 7MC machine (which is a hot backup for my primary 7MC machine and a test bed for my Typecast EPG application), and I thought I'd use 8.1 because it's still supported. When my 8.1 keys didn't work, I tried using Windows 7, and the lack of CPU support (even with hacks) soured me on that idea. So, I'm falling back to just using Windows 10 on the machine, using VLC to play TV programs I copy over my network from my primary (now only) WMC machine, and using a VM for 7MC on my Windows 10 dev machine to test Typecast. Rather than running a hot backup, I'll squirrel away one or two sets of old hardware to replace my primary 7MC machine in case it ever suffers a hardware failure. It looks like I'm getting closer to cutting cable and using YouTube TV...

Thanks again.
Anytime... Keep in mind, if your WMC7 machine is running fine... and you get a part that dies, used replacement parts on ebay for older computers is really cheap. You can get a 4-5 year old CPU like for $40-60 that when it was new would of set you back $500-600...
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#17

Post by 12noon » Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:31 pm

Excellent point. I could even upgrade the CPU because FM2 sockets were supported beyond the CPU it's currently using. :)
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#18

Post by IT Troll » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:01 am

12noon wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:32 pm
After I followed this procedure, I realized I need a key for Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center. I only have keys for the Media Center pack MS sold years ago, and they don't work.
Gah, I think I misread it too. I have a retail Windows 8.1 Pro key and then the Media Center Feature Pack key. Would it work if I first activated with the Pro key and then followed with the Media Center key?

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#19

Post by V1de0Lovr » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:30 pm

I disagree with the idea that "you cant download WMC any more adding your key" as I installed 8.1 Pro and added the WMC feature in November with one of the free keys. WMC was already on the hard drive and did not need to be downloaded. The ISO came from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/softwar ... indows8ISO

The free key did not activate and seemed to mess up my Pro license as well, as updates stopped working, but that is a different issue. I also used a Pro Pack key to upgrade an 8.1 non-Pro last weekend and had no trouble installing WMC whatsoever. I am not convinced that the Pro Pack linked to on eBay and looks identical to what I used will install on an already Pro system, as it upgrades a non-Pro to Pro.

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#20

Post by DavidinCT » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:54 pm

V1de0Lovr wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:30 pm
I disagree with the idea that "you cant download WMC any more adding your key" as I installed 8.1 Pro and added the WMC feature in November with one of the free keys. WMC was already on the hard drive and did not need to be downloaded. The ISO came from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/softwar ... indows8ISO

The free key did not activate and seemed to mess up my Pro license as well, as updates stopped working, but that is a different issue. I also used a Pro Pack key to upgrade an 8.1 non-Pro last weekend and had no trouble installing WMC whatsoever. I am not convinced that the Pro Pack linked to on eBay and looks identical to what I used will install on an already Pro system, as it upgrades a non-Pro to Pro.
The key I gave at the start of the thread works, as long as you disconnect from the internet...as I said a few times in this thread

This is just for installing, it will not activate. You do need your WMC upgrade key or Pro Pack with WMC key to add at the end of it.

The problem is Microsoft has ended life of WMC, so if you had 8.1 installed and entered the key, it wont download it any more. This is the ONLY back door way I have found to get WMC on 8.1 now days.
-Dave
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