Several few weeks back Neowin.net reported on a loophole in Windows 8 that allowed users to activate pirated copies of Windows 8. It worked by downloading the Media Center add-on.
Since then, untold numbers of conscience-free users who read about the widely reported flaw have availed themselves of free copies of the new OS and avoided paying $40.
Well, the free ride is over. Microsoft has slammed that door shut and fixed the flaw in the activation system. Now those who try to use the exploit to illegally install Windows 8 get the following error:
Unable to activate Windows 8 Pro with Media Center. (Error code: 0xC004C4AA)
What it means and how to fix it
You might see this error after you used the Add Features to Windows 8 app to upgrade your current edition of Windows. The Windows 8 Pro with Media Center edition can only be activated on PCs that had Windows preinstalled, or Windows was purchased on the Windows website or at a retail store. To fix the problem, you need to install Windows with the product key provided to you in an email or with the DVD. If you think you have received this message in error, contact a Microsoft Customer Support representative.
Microsoft has so far, not done a retroactive analysis to track down those who used the exploit and deactivate their copies. It may not be worth the effort, but for the illegal users, any day could be the day they are found out and their copy suddenly becomes illegal.
So, if you were planning on using the exploit to obtain a free copy of Windows 8, time to pony up $40. To my mind, its worth it. Neowin’s report can be found here.