Surface Pro and Media Center (how not to do it)

I was hoping to talk a bit about running (Windows) Media Center on the Surface Pro to play music I have purchased from Zune Marketplace (not Xbox Music), Instead I find myself re-installing my OS on the device.  Media Center is actually quite cool for streaming Music, Recorded TV etc from a home server once you have the libraries set up.  Pretty simple to do but I’ll touch on how not to add the feature as I am feeling the pain now.

First is how to add the feature the right way:

  1. Charms > Search and type in Add Features
  2. Choose Add Features to Windows 8
  3. Choose BUY A KEY On-line (it will cost you $9.99)
  4. Media Center will be enabled and set up on your Windows 8 Pro device.
  5. That’s all there is to it.

What not to do.

Way back when MS was giving us free Keys to add the Media Center feature to Windows 8 Pro, I took them up on the offer and received a key.  There was no fine print on the email stating that it was good for only (1) computer.  So I don’t know why I thought it would work (because they are charging for it now) but instead of Buy a Key On-line, I chose I have a key.  I entered the Key (remember I did use that key on a desktop in the house) and the Media Center was installed (successfully) on my Surface.

The Surface restarted and immediately complained about being inactivated.  Oh Joy.  Trying to Activate the Surface and it tells me the key is already in use.  Ok, so I must be able to buy a key on-line at the MS Store Right?  Nope, you can only buy Upgrades to the OS from Windows 8 Premium to Windows 8 Pro + Media Center.

There is no way to buy a ($9.99) Key on Microsoft’s site.  4 or 8 MS techs later (running all kinds of cmd line stuff), I find that I am Re-installing the OS.

When you add the Media Center feature to your Windows 8 pro system; the key you are buying is not a key for the Media Center add-in but really a key for the OS.  Once you get that gummed up (Key already in use) you are hosed. You will not find a key on your Surface or the box it came in to Reset to the old key. A refresh will not fix it, nor will a Restore as Media Center creates a restore point once successfully installed.  The only way back is to re-install Windows, where it picks up your original Product Key from hardware.

Bottom Line:

When adding the Media Center  feature to Windows 8 Pro, DO NOT attempt to use a product key that you may have already used.  You will need to pay the $9.99 for each computer that you wish to run Media Center on.  Otherwise the only way out is to re-install the OS.  Meaning re-installing all programs, up dating all apps, setting up libraries again…


3 thoughts on “Surface Pro and Media Center (how not to do it)

    1. Brad

      Just did this to myself ‘Doh

      Fortunately, when I called Surface tech, we activated the new Windows key by phone using the “slui 4” application. No need to reset. I’ve updated Windows and Surface firmware and all is still fine.

      Thanks for the article, though. It helped me to isolate the problem.

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