Media

Windows 8 won’t have DVD playback built-in — and that makes total sense

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Hoping to save a few bucks from licensing fees, Microsoft says it won’t be including DVD playback support built-in to Windows 8. Instead, you’ll have to purchase the Windows Media Center upgrade, or use third-party DVD software, to enjoy your movie collection.

Writing on the Building Windows 8 blog yesterday, Microsoft’s Windows head Steven Sinofsky explains the move as a way for the company to avoid royalty costs for decoders, which are required for media playback.

“Globally, DVD sales have declined significantly year over year and Blu-ray on PCs is losing momentum as well,” Sinofsky wrote. “Watching broadcast TV on PCs, while incredibly important for some of you, has also declined steadily. These traditional media playback scenarios, optical media and broadcast TV, require a specialized set of decoders (and hardware) that cost a significant amount in royalties.”

Specifically, the news means that Windows Media Player on Windows 8 won’t be able to play DVDs by default, even though Media Player itself will still be a mainstay in all versions of the OS.

While it may sound a bit shocking at first, the move makes sense since Windows 8 will run on a variety of form factors — including tablets and ultrabooks — that don’t have optical drives to play DVDs. It’s a minor inconvenience for consumers who rely on Windows for watching DVDs, but it looks like upgrading to Media Center won’t be too difficult. Sinofsky says the add-on will be available via the “Add features to Windows 8 Control Panel.”

Media Center isn’t the only way to get DVD playback either. There are tons of third-party DVD clients out there, including some which let you view DVDs for free (likely by skipping out on royalty fees), like VLC.

The news will most likely affect college students who practically live off of their computers. But with the ever-increasing rise of legal streaming and downloadable video options, I have a feeling many consumers won’t even need to figure out a DVD playback solution on Windows 8.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat