Whatever tech site you go to these days, the buzzword everywhere is “Windows 8”, latest update to Microsoft’s flagship operating system. I’ve been playing with it for the last couple of weeks and I’ve got to say, although the Metro UI has received a lot of criticism from fans this is a rock solid OS. Just one advice if you are a new user to Windows 8 – don’t give up on the OS based on first impressions alone. The more you use it, the more it will grow on you. Either way, coming back to the most important question if you are a pirate, has Windows 8 really been cracked?
Probably the most famous “crack'” for Windows 7 and Vista were the BIOS emulation hacks (i.e. DAZ Loader) that emulated the BIOS of an OEM build to fool windows into thinking it was activated. Not only did these hacks work, they even had the capability to pass WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) online validation as well. If you browse file sharing portals such as BitTorrent trackers in search of a cracked copy of Windows 8, you’ll notice that a number of “activators’, cracks and loaders will come up in search results. Unfortunately, a good percentage of these don’t work.
As of 14/11/2012, all working rogue activation methods for Windows 8 are based on the “KMS host emulation” method. As you may know, Windows has a Key Management Service (KMS) which allows it to use a KMS host key to activate itself on a KMS host and to establish a local activation service in your environment. Pirates have created their own KMS servers which authenticate even rogue, duplicate or invalid product keys. Once you find a working server, it’s just a matter of setting it’s URL in Windows and forcing an activation (both of which can be done using the command line) – the rogue server will return the result saying your key was authenticated and Windows will switch to activated state.
Some frequently asked questions about this method:
Are KMS host emulation hacks 100% working?
They do, albeit not 100%. For example, this type of activation may not pass Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation. Except for that, it should work and bring your Windows to an activated state.
Can you provide a list of rogue KMS servers to activate against?
No. First, that may be illegal and second, these servers are very unstable. They go down frequently, old servers get taken down and new ones pop up all the time. You have to get the activation done during the small window of time they are up.
What are the command line instructions for activation using a custom KMS server?
[words in bold italic are variables that need to be replaced with your own values]
- slmgr /ipk productkey – Set a KMS host key to use during activation. This is essentially a Windows product key.
- slmgr -skms hostname.com:port – Set a custom KMS authentication server for Windows.
- slmgr /ato – Perform activation
What happens if I don’t activate Windows?
You will not be able to install/download products that require WGA validation. And you will see a watermark on the bottom right of the screen which says “Activate Windows” – this watermark will appear on top of videos as well. Additionally, Windows needs to be in an activated state to change some personalization options and system settings.
How can I obtain a legit coy of Windows 8 for a reasonable price if I already have Windows 7?
If you are running a legit version of Windows 7, you can upgrade to Windows 8 for just $39.99 . If you bought a Windows 7 based PC between 1/1/2012 and 1/1/2013, the upgrade will only cost you $14.99 (check this site) . Note that once you upgrade, you will no longer be able to activate a Windows 7 installation using the same key. It will then only be usable on Windows 8 thereafter. This is something Microsoft doesn’t tell you very clearly.