So Microsoft has decided to remove DVD playback from Windows Media Player in Windows 8, which basically removes a feature from the player that has been there under Windows 7. What more? Windows Media Center, a full screen media interface, won't be included in Windows 8 as well natively. Users can however purchase the Windows 8 Media Center Pack, or the Windows 8 Pro Pack, to add the software to their version of Windows 8. Purchasing either pack turns the version of the operating system into Windows 8 Pro with Media Center.
And with Media Center comes the option to play DVD movies on Windows 8. What this does not change though is that Windows Media Player will still not support movie DVD playback.
If you do not want to pay money for adding DVD playback support to your version of Windows 8, you may be interested in free DVD players for the operating system that you can use instead for the very same purpose.
I just want to briefly mention an alternative that may work for you: you can also rip DVD movies on your system into popular video formats that every media player plays back just fine. Check out the DVD ripping software VidCoder for Windows, the easy to use Bitripper, or programs listed at our ultimate movie DVD tool collection guide.
VLC Media Player is one of the most popular free media players. It supports all major formats and playback of video DVDs and even some Blu-Rays.
To load media from within the player select Media > Open Disc, or use the shortcut Ctrl-D to open the menu. Select the movie DVD or Blu-Ray, click on play, and wait until the menu is displayed or a video begins to play.
SMPlayer uses the popular MPlayer to power its core functionality. It supports DVD playback, but needs to be configured first for it before the option becomes available. Select Open > Disc > DVD from drive, and follow the dialog which opens the configuration menu for you. Here you need to select the CD and DVD drive letter first, and if you want, enable the experimental DVD menu support.
You can load video DVDs from that moment on from the open menu. If you have selected DVD menu support, you will see the menu first when the DVD launches. If you did not, the first video of the DVD will play right away. Other MPlayer-based player like KMPlayer support DVD playback as well.
Allplayer supports CD and DVD playback as well. To play DVDs move the mouse cursor to the bottom of the window and select the leftmost load button there. Here you need to select Open DVD and wait for the movie to load in the interface.
It is a bit irritating that the player opens a second window in which the DVD gets played while the main window stays open at the same time. This is especially problematic if that window has been set to be always on top. It can be fixed easily though.
There are enough free programs available that let you play movie DVDs on Windows 8 without purchasing the add-on pack or buying a commercial program to do so.
Have another favorite that is not listed here? Let us know about the program in the comment section below.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.