Okay, we get it — DVD is starting to go the way of the VHS tape and film reel. But we've still got hundreds of DVDs in our house, and always pack a few in our laptop case for viewing on those long flights. That's why this news is so frustrating: The upcomingWindows 8
operating system (which you can download and preview now
) is dropping the ability to play DVD content.
According to Windows engineering team member Steven Sinofsky (emphasis his), "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." In other words: If you want to watch that Bridesmaids
DVD on your next plane trip, you're going to have to pay extra for software that will let you play it, even if your laptop already has a DVD drive. And don't think getting Blu-ray is an option — you can't play that straight from the box, either.
If you're left scratching your heads, the rationale behind dropping DVD support is simple: It's about the bottom line. Says Sinofsky, "traditional media playback scenarios, optical media, and broadcast TV, require a specialized set of decoders (and hardware) that cost a significant amount in royalties." Windows 8 will allow customers the option to install a Windows Media Center upgrade to allow DVD playback at extra cost, though Microsoft is not saying exactly how high that cost will be.
Will the move confuse customers when Windows 8 hits stores this October
? Almost certainly. Will not including DVD playback hurt sales of Windows 8? Probably not at first, but we're willing to bet the change adds to the level of frustration people sometimes have with a new operating system. And when combined with some of the other frustrations of Windows 8, such as a tablet experience being shoehorned into a PC format, Microsoft may very well be playing with fire. There's a reason why so many people are still running Windows XP
on their computer, after all.Another stupid move by Microsoft. Way to go Steve Ballmer.