No DVD Playback Support in Windows 8's Windows Media Player

Martin Brinkmann
May 4, 2012
Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft has just announced their plans for Windows Media Center, the company's full screen media interface. Windows Media Center includes tool to watch and record TV broadcasts, and options to watch videos, view photos and listen to music using the software. And thanks to plug-in support, Media Center users get also access to third party services like Netflix.

Media Center was included in many versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7, but things do not look this bright when it comes to Media Center support for Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 8.

According to a recent blog post at the official Building Windows 8 website, Windows Media Center will not be integrated into any version of Windows 8. Users do however have the option to purchase an upgrade, to add the functionality to their system.

Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we’ve decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade). This ensures that customers who are interested in Media Center have a convenient way to get it. Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support. For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, we are going to rely on the many quality solutions on the market, which provide great experiences for both DVD and Blu-ray.

windows 8 media center

As you can see, Windows 8 Pro users need to acquire and install the Windows 8 Media Center Pack via the Add Features to Windows 8 dialog to add Media Center to their version of the operating system.  Windows 8 (regular) users need to acquire the Windows 8 Pro Pack to do the same.

Microsoft did not comment yet on the pricing of the upgrade - which could be quite high especially for users who are running the standard version of Windows 8, as they would end up with Windows 8 Pro with Media Center included.

You may have noticed that Microsoft mentioned that Windows Media Player won't support DVD playback under Windows 8.  It is also interesting to note that Media Player won't support DVD playback even if the system is upgraded to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center.


The core reason for this change in strategy are licensing fees that Microsoft has to pay to support features such as DVD playback in the operating system.

Closing Words

Making Windows Media Center  a paid upgrade complicates matters significantly. Users who want the functionality first need to upgrade the operating system to do so. It will also be interesting to see if Microsoft will make the upgrade available to customers from all over the world, or limit the option to customers from select countries. If you look at the supported countries for the Anytime Upgrade under Windows 7, you will notice that only a handful of countries are supported by it.

Windows 7 users who upgrade to Windows 8 may lose functionality. They first may notice that Media Center is not included in the new operating system anymore, and second that Media Player can't play back DVDs anymore.

What's your take on the decision?


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  1. Blasted said on October 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    More and more, the only reason to have a PC seems to be to play certain games, which in and of itself doesn’t justify the cost. So many other devices cover the bases so much better or conveniently than a PC. I am almost to the point of saying goodbye Windows, it was nice knowing you before you so cleverly wrote yourself out of the PC OS market by saying, “not my job man!”.

  2. iphoneman said on May 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm
  3. Roman ShaRP said on May 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    > When Apple’s quarterly Profits closing in on Microsoft’s quarterly INCOME

    It may be bad for MS shareholders, but we are not MS shareholders, aren’t we?

    > That means royalties … have been paid broadly….

    Oh, and Microsoft never stood for copyright and royalties? Many people many times told where copyright binding and royalties squeezing system is going. “This is what happens when closed, proprietary formats become the standard”, – JohnMWhite said it right.

    > Microsoft, with its stagnant profits needs to scrap any cent they can get

    This game can be played by not only MS, by users too: when MS is saving by not licensing video codecs, ordinary users can save by not licensing Win8. :)))

  4. lookmann said on May 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    couple of years back WMP11 was considered best for dvd playing and several sites offered ‘fixes’ for installing it in xp. those sites have come a long way since then .and users too realise wmp11 is not that wonderful.

    pot, mpc-home players play dvd and other formatts better.

  5. ilev said on May 5, 2012 at 9:38 am

    When Apple’s quarterly Profits closing in on Microsoft’s quarterly INCOME, Microsoft, with its stagnant profits needs to scrap any cent they can get . Video licenses cost Microsoft $1B…

    “In Windows 7, we decided to make these codecs available broadly in most editions, except Windows 7 Home Basic (available in some emerging markets) and Windows 7 Starter editions (available for netbooks and some emerging markets). That means royalties related to DVD playback in Windows 7 have been paid broadly, regardless of whether or not the PC has an optical drive. Based on sales and usage, we supplied codecs to a very large number of PCs that were not capable of playing DVDs or simply did not ever play DVDs.”

    “So when you add all this up and apply to all Windows PCs, it is an ongoing cost of hundreds of millions of dollars per year to the PC ecosystem, well over a billion dollars over the lifecycle of the operating system and yet by most predictions the majority of PCs will not even be capable of playing DVDs.”

  6. Gary said on May 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Main advantage of Windows over linux is support for proprietary licenses. Take this away and Linux now sees a clear path to rule the desktop.

    Windows days are numbered; it’s the beginning of the end of Windows dominance on desktiop.

    1. Womble said on May 11, 2012 at 2:13 am

      Windows XP didn’t ship with codecs either I don’t remember a mass exodus to Linux when that came out.

      Think about it when was the last time you even used your optical drive for anything let alone playing a DVD. Discs are old hat now, the future is in downloads and streaming.

  7. Todd Schnitt said on May 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    bastik says:
    “Microsoft can safe a lot of money with it and if that gets passed to the consumer”

    Well you’re half right.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 4, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      I’d also assume that this won’t really benefit the consumers, but the margin of the manufacturers.

  8. ilev said on May 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Not only DVD but Blu-ray as well.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      You are right, no DVD and no Blu-Ray playback.

  9. Roman ShaRP said on May 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I’m from former USSR country, and we here don’t care about DVR that much, because TV here sucks big time, and torrents thrive. So, we may not care about TV recording at all, just get what we want (if we want something) from torrents or filehosts – if it worth watching at all, it will be there.

    Nobody from my family and people I know never asked me about TV recording.

  10. Steve said on May 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    This begs the question what will OEMs ship with new systems? They won’t want the added expense of the WMC just so that they won’t get complaints from customers that they cannot play DVD movies, do they need to ship a legal DVD player and this will add cost.

    1. Steve said on May 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm

      sorry, typo, should read ‘so they need to ship a legal DVD player…

  11. JohnMWhite said on May 4, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I was far from sold on Win8 to begin with, but I can’t help but feel this is a deal-breaker. A rather petty deal-breaker, to be sure, since I’d just install VLC whether Media Player worked with DVDs or not, but it is the attitude that is demonstrated here that really sours me. A modern OS should not be missing a basic function that has been taken for granted for over a decade, and adding that function back in should certainly not cost the consumer time and money to download. Fragmenting operating systems into pay-for apps and add-ons is not a direction I want to go at all.

    On the other hand, I can understand Microsoft wanting to save money by not playing the codec game, but as usual the only real losers here are the consumers. This is what happens when closed, proprietary formats become the standard.

  12. bastik said on May 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I already said that I’m not going to upgrade to Windows 8, but when I would I wouldn’t care about the DVD change. Microsoft can safe a lot of money with it and if that gets passed to the consumer it would be fair.

    No DVD playback, no fee for MS, no need to pay the full price.

  13. Win 8 Will Fail said on May 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Really, Microsoft, if there is any strategy to absolutely ensure that your products will fail in the marketplace, you have certainly found it with your Windows Media Center 8 policy. Making things needlessly complicated, laborious and expensive may have worked when you had the monopoly, but those days are long gone. Streamline. Innovate.Compete. That is how you’ll make money. Everyone seems to understand that but Microsoft. Why would anyone need the newly flawed Win 8 over the excellent Windows 7? We played the Vista game once. NEVER AGAIN!

  14. Peter (NL) said on May 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    This is a very good moment for Apple to attract more Windows users to step over to their OS. I read already so much negative feedback about Windows 8, that I believe this is a golden opportunity for Apple Inc.

    Apple has to improve their cycle for software updates and security patches. Also Apple should reduce their consumer sales prices for their products. It is now far too high.

  15. Mikel said on May 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    It doesn’t surprise me at all. MS doesn’t need to compete as an O/S using media center software — that is not their niche. And on that note, I’m surprised they are not just pulling the plug altogether.

    As primarily a Windows/7 user for work (not by choice), I can say that we will happily remain Windows/7 until the very last day of support anyway, and things like this is what will push a lot of employees to support their companies’ decision to do so.

    After hours I am Linux everywhere.


  16. Phil said on May 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    One more reason not to upgrade to Win8! Wasn’t the primary target of Win8 the Apple dominated tablet market, whereby users would watch multimedia on the go? I don’t get it! I would understand this strategy for the Enterprise version … but not for the home or the business version.

  17. Jim said on May 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Does anyone actually use Media Player? One of the first things I install on a Windows machine is the classic player and a codec pack. I prefer a player that doesn’t try to force me in any direction.

    1. John said on May 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      The article deals with both Media Player AND Media Center. While most people may not use Media Player, its ability to playback DVD’s affects Media Center too, I suppose. Plenty of people use Media Center (like myself) as a DVR. I am actually surprised more people don’t use it as it is a great way to record programming from tv and beats the dvr’s you would get from any other service since you can add as much storage as you want.

  18. Roman ShaRP said on May 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    My take is simple: I don’t need neither Win 8, nor Win Media Center. And I’m not a DVD buyer :)

    If it is a trick to bound Windows users “to buy upgrades” – it doesn’t work on me. I would like to use solutions which doesn’t require any additional pay.

    If they just want to cut costs on fees for features, which many customers doesn’t us anyway (I guess that PC DVD watchers are only a little fraction in our age of other devices and formats availability) – so it goes.

  19. Noel said on May 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Seriously, MS is STILL not learning the lesson. Although WIndows is present on majority of the computers, Apple’s share is increasing and there is a reason why. If I use Mac, I don’t have to install programs to do many jobs, for example their iSuite with iPhoto, iDVD, iCal, Apple Mail. And these programs are not just basic but fully functional and do damn good job than many paid Windows programs. I wonder why MS can not come up with such thing. (MS Works is a disaster compared to what equivalent you get with Mac).

    Secondly, look at what majority of users are using for Windows 7, OEM Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. If MS wants to increase market share in many programs like say Media Center in this case then it has to be present in the OS version widely used, else whats wrong with XBMC?

    If Macs were not double the price, I would have certainly bought Mac. I have used it at work and its not as customizable as windows still knocks a punch at Windows.

  20. Allinthefamily said on May 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    My take? Microsoft is piling on the reasons to stick with Windows 7. I’m no crusty curmudgeon, but I plan on sticking with 7 until the day there are no more security updates. I find hope in the possibility that enterprises will shun 8, thus making 7 the new XP with the resultant longer than expected support lifespan.

    In short, I cannot think of one thing 8 adds that I want, and many things 8 takes away that I want to keep.

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