No DVD playback on Windows 8? Try these free alternatives

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 11, 2012
Software, Video, Windows

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.

1. VLC Media Player

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.

play dvd vlc media player

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.

Homepage link

2. SMPlayer

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.

smplayer play dvds

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.

Homepage link

3. Allplayer

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.

Homepage link

Closing words

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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  1. AmbientMike said on November 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    EDIT 2 – I was right first time. MPC-HC plays encrypted DVD’s on Win7 but not on Win8 where Windows itself does not have the ability to decrypt them.

  2. AmbientMike said on November 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    EDIT – I stand corrected. My beloved MPC-HC does play back encrypted DVD’s which does get passed our license team for some reason.

    SMPlayer has “experimental” DVD Menu play back which seems quite poor…

  3. AmbientMike said on November 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    You’re all missing the whole point of this post… Windows 8 does not play back DVD’s out of the box. More importantly Windows 8 does not playback encrypted DVD’s out of the box.

    As far as I’m aware only VLC out of all of the suggested alternatives can decrypt and playback DVD’s . Some of the other suggestions can only play back pre-decrypted DVD’s and some suggestions can’t play back DVD’s at all.

    Sadly VLC doesn’t get passed our licensing at work due to the nature of the De-CSS routine it uses so that still leaves without a free DVD play back solution for Windows 8.

  4. easonjoy01 said on November 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    For playing Blu-ray on Windows 8, i just use UFUSoft Blu-ray Player, it workds very well on Windows 8 PC.

  5. Anupam Sharma said on September 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    How does it matter if no support is there ? By the way who uses Window media player instead !!!

    1. Matt C. said on September 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      I think think they do mean that Windows Media Player will not support it, but you can still use alternative programs. Plus, I’m sure plenty of noobs probably stick with WMP.

      1. Anupam said on September 4, 2012 at 7:57 am

        Yes, you are right. WMP users do exist. In my 8 yrs career in IT I have noticed that WMP is “far far” away from VLC / KPM in terms of codecs & functionality used in video/music..I have tested on KMP /VLC…you can do any modifications with that.

  6. BOYCOTE WIN8! said on September 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Windows 8 SUCKS!

  7. Matt C. said on August 16, 2012 at 7:02 am

    I feel it bears repeating that Media Player Classic Home Cinema is pretty much the ever-lovin’ BOMB, y’all. Light, simple, and a decent enough array of features.

  8. MPCHC said on August 15, 2012 at 12:51 am

    MPC-HC released, don’t use inferior bloated garbage like VLC.

  9. Boyfriend said on August 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

    My choices are:

    –> Free:
    Gom Player
    GreenForce-Player 1.12
    Kantaris Media Player Lite 0.7.7
    MPC-Home Cinema x86
    PotPlayer 1.5.33948 x86
    VLC media player 2.0.3
    Xbox Media Center 11.0

    –> Commercial:
    Arcsoft TotalMedia Theatre 5
    CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra 12.0.1905.56
    WinDVD Pro
    JetAudio Plus VX
    Mac Blu-ray Player for Windows
    Splash Pro EX 1.12.2
    WinX DVD Player 3.1
    Zoom Player Pro 8.16
    Winamp Pro 5.63 Build 3235

    We have so broad choice to play music and videos…. :)

    1. Boyfriend said on August 12, 2012 at 9:14 am

      and for codec pack:

      Windows 8 Codecs 1.xx is more than enough on Windows 8 to play all major and many uncommon formats.

  10. Dan said on August 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    …Unrelated…. Hey Martin, the world seems a bit confused about the terminology of Win8, Metro, Modern, WinRT.. How about a post explaining them all? I’d love to share that with my friends/co-workers.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm
      1. Dan said on August 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        Woah, that is awesome. Thank you Martin!!

  11. ilev said on August 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Non of these apps will work in Metro/Win RT.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      And they do not need to, at least not for regular Windows 8 versions. Windows RT, for me it is comparable to Android tablets and to iPad, and those do not have DVD playback as well.

    2. ilev said on August 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      p.s My favorites MPC-HC and VLC have portable versions.

  12. SCBright said on August 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    The best would be if the windows were 8 a complete operating system.
    To use a non native player to perform a basic task is a regression, I continue sticked with Windows 7.

  13. Fine citizen said on August 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    KMPlayer is the best.
    for what it does.. it can send data to KGB and send fully-loaded SWAT squads every friday – I’d still use it.

    1. Anonymous said on April 13, 2015 at 4:01 am

      will it play .udf format?

    2. anony said on August 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      Indeed, what they’re doing behind your back is totally irrelevant. Let’s just shut our eyes and ears and scream nononono.

      At least until you mysteriously unable to log into your bank account.

    3. Anonymous said on August 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      Agreed,KMP & PotPlayer are excellent.Getting immaculate MKV video captures with KMP with Alt+C.

  14. memberjoe said on August 11, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Media Player Classic – Home Cinema (x86 and x64)

    The KMPlayer

    1. ComicHippo said on August 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      It is worth mentioning that MPC-HC requires DirectX End-User Runtimes (June 2010) which is a ~96 mb file ( just the installer ) .

    2. anony said on August 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      KMplayer has been known to annonymously send user data back to pandora without user’s input. Avoid at all cost.

      1. anony said on August 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm

        Yeah, their EULA.

        And this

      2. ComicHippo said on August 11, 2012 at 3:19 pm

        It’s mentioned in their user agreement/TOS . I read it in some KMplayer vs Duam Potplayer forum thread .

      3. Anonymous said on August 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm

        Any evidence to back that up?To say ‘avoid at all cost’ is sheer scaremongering & absolute crap!

  15. saman said on August 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Just potplayer Dude!

    1. Zeus said on August 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      I second Daum Pot Player.

      Essentially, Pot Player is to KM Player as Foobar2k is to Winamp.

      It’s from the original developer of KM Player, before KM went all icky

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