Beware of fake Windows 8 key generators

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 28, 2012
Security, Windows 8

When something is in high demand, it usually does not take long before it is being exploited in one way or the other. While the verdict is still not in if Microsoft's newest operating system is a hit or not, it is certain that it is quite the popular topic on the Internet since its release.

Windows 8 ISO images are readily available on various P2P indexing sites and other sources, what users do not get there though is a product key that is needed to register the operating system. What may be included on the other hand are fake keyword generators that supposedly generate a legit Windows 8 product key when run.

A key generator is sometimes supplied with cracked applications if the cracker managed to find out which algorithm for key generation has been used by the developer.

The two programs that Trend Micro got hold of are fake, which means that they try to make the user believe that they can activate Windows 8 when run. What they actually do however is try to get the user to send an SMS to a number to activate the operating system. That's not as bad as it could be, considering that they could also try and install a trojan, virus or other form of malware on the user system. The programs connect to web pages for click fraud in addition t the SMS scam.

windows 8 activator

Experienced users will likely spot the scam once they come to the page where the program requests that a SMS needs to be sent to continue. The interface language may prevent others from going any further, even though that may be easily fixed with a language patch or updated.

One of the programs disguises itself as a Windows 8 downloader, the other as an activator program (Windows 8 Activator 2011) that activates the operating system when run.

The scam takes advantage of Windows 8's popularity and it is likely that it is doing quite well in the market that it is targeting.It is obviously best to ignore these types of programs completely, especially since you may end up with something that is worse than a request to activate via SMS.


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  1. Robert Oliver said on February 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm


    You mention doing a “full restart.” I’m having some restart-related problems, and would appreciate if you would give some detail as to what constitutes a Full Restart.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 24, 2013 at 2:57 am

      What I mean by that is the following. If you simply shut down Windows 8, it will cache some information so that they are loaded from crash and not renewed on the next start of the system. A restart on the other hand loads everything anew instead. An easy way to restart is to press Windows-D while on the desktop and then Alt-F4. This should open the shutdown menu.

      1. Robert Oliver said on February 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        Thanks for the info, Martin.

  2. Luzan Baral said on March 4, 2013 at 10:56 am

    This problem most probably is face by all of us while installing new apps or while updating the existing app on Windows Store. I faced same problem with error 0x80073cf9 and searched on web for my appropriate answer.
    Why go with long method when you can make it working in few steps? I found a great solution to that thanks to such blogs for doing there best on helping searchers like me.
    A trick on How to fix the error code 0x80073cf9 while installing windows store app on Windows 8 Surface pro.

    Turn off Antivirus software and Firewall temporarily.
    Reset store cache: Press Win + R, type WSReset.exe and hit enter.
    Use File explorer to open C:\Windows folder, and re-create an “AUInstallAgent” folder if it is missing.
    Open command prompt (Admin), type the “sfc /scannow” command and press Enter to run System File Checker.
    Open Registry Editor and delete the whole OLE folder in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\

    See here for more

    1. Peshawa said on October 5, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Thank you very very much dear Luzan Baral for your easy steps.. That is fixed my error 0x8003cf9 permanently .. Peshawa from Kurdistan of Iraq.

  3. Rob said on March 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for the steps.

    My AUInstallAgent folder was missing, and I ran the Modern UI troubleshooter.
    Its a shame that the Microsoft could give a more meaningful error….

  4. MrPollaGrande said on April 25, 2013 at 4:44 am

    Thanks, Luzan Baral. Worked just great ;)

  5. Shinzoku said on May 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Hi, here’s another solution to try:

    Check C:\Program Files\ for a folder named “WindowsApps”. If it isn’t there, create it, then try to install again.

    Good luck!

    1. Kevin Lee said on October 2, 2013 at 9:55 am

      WOW worked like a charm

    2. kay said on January 17, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks, Worked for me!

  6. evaki said on May 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    thank you very much!!! the 3rd solution worked!

  7. daymaker said on October 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Hi. I had the same problem and none of these solutions helped. CC cleaner portable helped me after cleaning everyting including the registry.

  8. Matthew said on November 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Nothing worked for me. I ended up doing a full reset of my tablet. :(

  9. Vince Nenis said on September 12, 2014 at 10:12 am

    PROBLEMA NA LOJA WINDOWS 8 e 8.1 – Erro 0x80073cf9 – SOLUÇÃO:

    1) C:\Windows
    2) Apague a pasta AUInstallAgent
    3) Criar PASTA chamada AppReadiness


  10. Elsy said on January 20, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    After trying a lot of solutions and not finding it on Microsoft help for apps, you gave me the right link.
    Step 3 worked for me, thank you and greetings from The Netherlands :)

  11. ADITYA said on March 3, 2015 at 7:19 am

    3rd step worked

    1. Anonymous said on October 5, 2015 at 5:44 am

      Finally something worked. Thankyou.

  12. Anonymous said on May 18, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Thanks a lot for the solutions! But even after I tried steps 1, 2 and 3, nothing happened! I also checked if the folder was there, and it was. I also tried disabling my security softwares and I do not want to refresh or restore my computer. Please help!
    Just so you know, the application I am trying to install is Asphalt 8: Airborne. I actually wanted to update it but it always said pending at the installation window. After i got fed up of waiting, I set off to reinstall the game as my progress was connected to my XBox account. But now it does not install!

  13. Mike said on December 20, 2015 at 1:10 am

    Finally a solution that really works!!!!! Thanks man. :o)

  14. Jon Busconi said on October 3, 2016 at 9:33 am

    If you see the 0x80073cf9 on a mobile phone, the problem is that you are trying to install on phone memory instead of mem card. Switch to memcard and it will work for you like it worked for me. Procedure here

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