Microsoft drops AC-3 (Dolby Digital) Codec support in Windows 11 version 24H2

Martin Brinkmann
May 29, 2024
Windows 11 News
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21

Microsoft's Windows 11 operating system will not support the Ac-3 codec by default going forward. In a somewhat surprising and sneaky move, Microsoft announced the end of support on a support page.

There, Microsoft writes that "beginning with Windows 11, version 24H2, the AC-3 codec is no longer included with Windows".  The removal of the code means that users may not play media content that relies on the codec on their devices using built-in players or some external players.

Microsoft does note that device manufacturers pre-install the AC-3 codec on their devices often. If that is the case, AC-3 support is available on these devices. The support page offers no explanation on the removal.

Third-party media players such as VLC Media Player support AC-3 out of the box. They do not rely on codecs integrated in Windows for playback. Integrated media players, such as Windows Media Player and Windows Media Player Legacy, only play media formats if codes are installed on the system.

Tip: you can check if your favorite media player supports AC3 by downloading a sample file from this website. Try to launch the audio file in the media player to see if it supports it.

Windows Media Player and Windows Media Player Legacy should play the file as well, provided that the installed version of Windows is not 24H2.

Note: it is unclear if the codec remains installed for users who upgrade from older versions of Windows 11 to the new release.

How to add system-wide support for AC-3 in Windows 11 version 24H2

If you use a media player that relies on codes installed on the system, and does not come with its own pack of binary codecs, then you may install the missing AC-3 codec on the Windows 11 version 24H2 system to add support for it.

One of the best options is to install LAVFilters. It is an open source project that allows Windows users "to play virtually any format in a DirectShow player".

  1. Download the latest "installer.exe" version from the official project site at GitHub.
  2. Run the downloaded file to install the filters and add support for playing AC-3 files and many other formats.
  3. Keep the installation directory, or change it, and click on Next.
  4. Keep everything checked under "Select Components". You may also add H.264 MVC 3D Decoder, but this needs to be checked manually.
  5. Select Next.
  6. Select Next again when asked to pick a Start Menu folder, or check the "Don't create a Start Menu folder" box to prevent the creation.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Click Next again.
  9. Keep all supported formats checked and click Next.
  10. Select install finally to start the installation.

You may open the configurations of the filters after installation, but this is not required for functionality.

All Windows media players and other apps that rely on Windows-functionality to play media should now support AC-3 again.

Are you affected by the change? Which media player is your favorite on Windows?

Summary
Article Name
Microsoft drops AC-3 (Dolby Digital) Codec support in Windows 11 version 24H2
Description
Microsoft's Windows 11 operating system will not support the Ac-3 codec by default going forward, but there is a way to restore the functionality.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. LoneWolf said on June 11, 2024 at 10:08 pm
    Reply

    Now that my AppleTV can perform SMB media streaming with the Infuse app which fully supports all of the Dolby codecs (it’s a commercial app but a good one), I no longer have need of a home theater PC.

    So that means either switching that Intel NUC to Linux, or selling it off. Either way, abandoning Microsoft from another box in the house just makes sense at this point.

  2. Marti Martz said on May 30, 2024 at 6:26 am
    Reply

    This reminds me of what wool was tried to be pulled over everyone’s eyes in the early to mid 1990’s with mp3 and Fraunhofer. The codec magically got downgraded and eventually stopped appearing eventually.

    They say history repeats itself… do the math.

  3. Graham said on May 30, 2024 at 2:35 am
    Reply

    Just install the K-Lite Codec Pack. I had to install it after a bunch of videos I downloaded stopped working for some odd reason. That’ll fix it right up. They’ll work with any media player you have on your Desktop, and you can set them to auto-update, so you can just set it and forget it.

  4. VLC and MPV for the win said on May 30, 2024 at 1:40 am
    Reply

    @Bobo,

    > PotPlayer

    Is proprietary and has it’s issues.

    Then again, if you insist upon running a black box OS made by a convicted monopoly which you cannot audit the source for yourself then I guess go wild.

    1. Bobo said on May 30, 2024 at 9:32 am
      Reply

      @VLC and MPV for the win

      Thanks I will. I do not care one bit if the best videoplayer on windows is not open source. It plays everything. It has issues, that get fixed by contacting the very hostile developer via email. Trust me, I know. Been using PotPlayer forever and I won’t switch for anything. I am biased since I have also contributed to it as a bug hunter and a translator and made a bunch of skins for it back in the day. *laxorm* in da house.

      Oh, and do you mean to say that you audit the source code on your distro? =)
      Open source IS wonderful, but out of 100 million linux users very very few audit any little snippet of code. But all of them say it’s safe. Because it said so on the tin…. Recently there was a very bad incident that could have brought the whole linux ecosystem to it’s knees, luckily one guy from MICROSOFT of all places, found it and rang the alarm. So yeah, two sides to every coin.

  5. Anonymous said on May 29, 2024 at 10:51 pm
    Reply

    Microsoft team does this, because it promotes full streaming services (such as NF, Disney+) against a good bluray/disc, (if you guys watch blurays). They dont want their users to have a decent way to watch nice movies. But, since Im on windows 10, I personally will never care a lot on win 11 users.

  6. Anonymous said on May 29, 2024 at 9:13 pm
    Reply

    huhh ? and why ? There are many users still watching blurays that relies on ac3 codec. M$ cant kill it. At least on win10.

  7. bruh said on May 29, 2024 at 6:28 pm
    Reply

    This is irrelevant – they removed the ability for Windows to play DVDs back when windows 10 came out (Windows Media Player used to be, and still is, one of the best DVD players ever made, if you use an older Windows like 7, the handling of mpeg2 video and also the loudness profiles for AC3 are very good, the de-interlacer is probably slightly better than VLC’s as well)

    Nobody runs into AC3 in the real world, unless they are playing a DVD, and windows users can’t play DVDs with windows since windows 10 already, so anyone playing a DVD is using a 3rd party player already, thus a player that has it’s own codecs built in. Basically they could have made this change in 2016 and caused no more upset than they did.

    I’m still happily using WMP on W7 which plays dolby digital (ac3) and dolby digital plus (eac3) without issues. By the way there exists a foobar plugin to provide ac3 support.

    1. TelV said on May 30, 2024 at 4:31 pm
      Reply

      @ Bruh,

      Actually, Microsoft removed the DVD player in Windows XP if my memory serves me correctly. The excuse back then was that there were plenty of third party players around that could do the job instead so why should Microsoft spend their precious funds providing it.

      Now they’ve made an abrupt about face turn and don’t want users to install any third party apps because that reduces the amount of telemetry they can collect with their own apps. Funny that…

      1. bruh said on May 31, 2024 at 10:19 am
        Reply

        Well I don’t know the full history, but there is a native DVD player as part of windows media player in Windows 7, which is there regardless of windows 7 version, and it handles deinterlacing, menus, loudness profiles, subtitles, etc. The only reason I bring it up is that it’s the best DVD player on windows I’ve seen so far (which is free). I use it every day for ripped DVDs (that’s right you don’t need to emulate having an optical disk, it plays local files fine).

        So you must be mis-remembering. Playing DVDs was removed (for the last time) either with W8 or W10.

      2. TelV said on May 31, 2024 at 2:17 pm
        Reply

        Windows XP Media Centre Edition offered DVD playback provided the hardware supported it, but not the vanilla flavour on which it was removed (Microsoft’s subtle attempt at persuading users to buy the MCE edition which was almost twice the price).

        I used to build my own machines back then and remember all the furore from the community when we all had to go find a third party DVD player to handle playback. VLC came into its own at that time since it provided its own codecs.

        I don’t know what happened with Windows 7 because I skipped that OS completely going from XP to Windows 8 when the wheels fell off the XP machine I’d built. ;)

  8. Tachy said on May 29, 2024 at 3:19 pm
    Reply

    I’ve been using the K-Lite codec pack for years. It’s one of the first things I add after a fresh install. It works on 7,10,and 11 and it has a lot more options and tools.

    They offer four package options from basic to mega. Make sure you read and fully understand it or it might make changes you don’t want as it has so many options.

    https://codecguide.com/about_kl.htm

    1. bruh said on May 29, 2024 at 6:22 pm
      Reply

      K-Lite codec pack is widely not recommended, as it does a lot of stuff and not always possible to undo the changes it makes, it has broken stuff for people.

      You can usually find a solution for a missing codec by switching player, or installing directshow filters specific to a codec, mega-massive codec packs I would not put my faith in.

      1. BookSchlepper said on June 1, 2024 at 11:18 am
        Reply

        People have been saying that about K-Lite for, like, 13+ years; does it still apply?.

        Let’s see, I stopped constantly installing it on my machines about 5 years back, and before that, I must have used it for 8+ years. I remember reading about what you were warning about back then. But, in all the years I used it, I don’t think I ever ran into any problems with it. From XP, Vista, 7, 8. Can’t remember if I ever installed it on 10.

        Is that still a legitimate warning even all these years later?

      2. Tachy said on May 31, 2024 at 4:32 pm
        Reply

        It’s not the software, it’s the people using it.

  9. John G. said on May 29, 2024 at 2:46 pm
    Reply

    They don’t know how to kill W10 and now they have decided that’s enough time to kill W11. Probably W12 is coming sooner than expected. Thanks for the article! :]

  10. David said on May 29, 2024 at 1:07 pm
    Reply

    AC-3 is being replaced with the newer EAC-3. If Microsoft is doing this thats not really s bad thing. If MS is not going to support natively EAC-3 that is bad.

    1. bruh said on May 29, 2024 at 6:32 pm
      Reply

      ac3 and eac3 are both very old now, and are from the DVD era, although I think eac3 is probably not obsolete yet.

      Windows users can’t natively play DVDs since windows 10, and could never natively play blue-rays, so what’s the issue? Everyone is using potplayer or vlc media player or something, which use their own built-in codecs.

    2. Anonymous said on May 29, 2024 at 2:54 pm
      Reply

      Right. Like turntables not supporting 33rpm vinyls anymore… You go and buy your music collection again. not a bad thing at all indeed ;p

      Trolls set aside, Windows must definitely be set aside, as everything with the Gates name on it. Evil never quits coming from that direction.

  11. Bobo said on May 29, 2024 at 11:55 am
    Reply

    PotPlayer plays anything you throw at it, using very little resources while doing so. For audio I use MusicBee which handles my 28.5k album collection like a champ. This Microsoft decision doesn’t affect me one bit, but I’m sure it affects whoever owns the patent for it now that Microsoft doesn’t want to pay anymore. You, see times are tough in the advertising business, so something’s gotta give. People in Redmond are starving. This is just temporary, Microsoft executives said that it will be a bumpy and difficult ride converting an operating system to a mandatory account-based advertising platform without the public noticing. In the end the payoff will be worth all the hungry days and tearful sleepless nights.

    1. John G. said on May 29, 2024 at 2:43 pm
      Reply

      +1

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