Windows 8 DVD playback issues: It's all about the money

On Thursday evening, Microsoft announced that the regular version of Windows Media Player, which will be in all versions of Windows 8, won't be able to play DVDs anymore like it can with Windows 7. Users would have to upgrade to a paid version of Windows Media Center to enable DVD features.

This decision has been slammed by many Windows users. Now the official Windows 8 blog has posted an update that attempts to answer some of the questions raised by the decision to remove DVD playback from Windows 8's Media Player.

Microsoft confirmed that for Windows 7, it had to pay royalties to Dolby and to the owners of the MPEG-2 decoder to enable DVD playback in Windows Media Player. The blog states:

In Windows 7, we decided to make these codecs available broadly in most editions, except Windows 7 Home Basic (available in some emerging markets) and Windows 7 Starter editions (available for netbooks and some emerging markets). That means royalties related to DVD playback in Windows 7 have been paid broadly, regardless of whether or not the PC has an optical drive. Based on sales and usage, we supplied codecs to a very large number of PCs that were not capable of playing DVDs or simply did not ever play DVDs.

The FAQ also claims that licensing those technology for Windows 8 would cost a lot of money. It states:

So when you add all this up and apply to all Windows PCs, it is an ongoing cost of hundreds of millions of dollars per year to the PC ecosystem, well over a billion dollars over the lifecycle of the operating system and yet by most predictions the majority of PCs will not even be capable of playing DVDs.

Microsoft believes that if a new PC with Windows 8 has some kind of optical drive installed, it's "most likely" that it would have some kind of DVD software included.

But what if you have Windows 7 and still want to play DVDs when you upgrade your PC to Windows 8? Microsoft says, "If there is existing third-party playback software the Windows Upgrade Assistant will help determine if this software is compatible with Windows 8 and you will have the option to keep it during the upgrade to Windows 8." Otherwise you will be out of luck with the upgrade to Windows 8 unless you upgrade it with the Windows Media Center pack (or use free third-party software).

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Who really uses WMp? I mean there are far more produtive, free, and compatible solutions out there, like VLC

Xerino said,
Who really uses WMp? I mean there are far more produtive, free, and compatible solutions out there, like VLC

except for lacking that utter crap MKV codec(which i rather skip anyways, glorified-toilet avi wannabe), WMP actually works better, faster and less resource intensive then VLC.

Unless you read tech blogs this is horribly confusing. I can imagine unnecessary support calls and people being taken advantage of.

FWIW... Windows DVD handling is & always has been a bit weak at best -- when/if you wanted decent DVD playback that meant buying 3rd party software, but with OEM Cyberlink PowerDVD discs/licenses starting ~$3 that's never been a problem. Win7 included more video decoding than earlier versions, & there it's as much a problem as it is anything else -- the DS filters win7 uses for decoding 1) aren't the best, & 2) compete/interfere in Windows' video-handling ecosystem with better software you've installed. Not having those decoders in win8 won't make much difference to video enthusiasts or pros, other than to perhaps make life easier. Those using Media Center will get the codecs with the win8 Media Center add-on. Those not already using a separate, non-Windows player will do what they should have done from the start & get one. Free players that'll handle mpg2 (DVD) &/or AVC (Blu-Ray) are not rare if all you want to do is watch the video, & you should be able to easily find a player that'll handle most anything better than Windows Media Player [VLC, MPC, VMP, smplayer spring to mind]. If you want full DVD menu support, or DRMed Blu-Ray w/menu support, in win8 you're best off using PowerDVD, Nero Kwik Media etc., just like in win7. If you buy a Blu-Ray drive, AFAIK a player app is usually included -- if you don't have a Blu-Ray drive you're not going to play a DRMed Blu-Ray disc with menus anyway.

IMO the biggest practical impact of any win7 codecs going missing in win8 is some users might be forced to start using a better player.

OEMS are likely to ship netbooks and tablets with Windows 8 (standard), but ship HTPCs and Desktops and laptops w/ DVD drives with Windows 8 Pro Media Center.

It makes perfect sense. If you're building your own computer and need the features, then buy 8 Pro MC or download a third party codec. I don't see how consumers can get confused if they buy their computer from an OEM.

So if Microsoft doesn't have to pay those fee's is the price of Windows 8 going to be less because of it?

Xenon said,
So if Microsoft doesn't have to pay those fee's is the price of Windows 8 going to be less because of it?

Yes, or they dropped it in favor of other licensed codecs. or other new doohickeys

I guess this does make sense then considering tablets aren't going to have optical drives and thus not be able to play DVD's... It would be nice though if computers with optical drives came with this support. Here's hoping.

TsarNikky, not sure how that is relavant to this situation if you actually read the reasoning...Microsoft isn't anywhere near abandoning that market.

But I am curious about Apple though, Im sure they have to pay royalties as well.
I know for a fact that when Im traveling and have no internet access, I still relay on DVDs as a form of entertainment and would rather use a Microsoft built in product. By removing this option Im afraid this will let it the crapware DVD player programs we saw in the XP days by OEMS

One more reason to not buy Windows 8 and stick to Windows 7. If i run Windows 8 it'll be on a tablet cause this is where the os belong. My desktop PC will run Windows 7.

LaP said,
One more reason to not buy Windows 8 and stick to Windows 7. If i run Windows 8 it'll be on a tablet cause this is where the os belong. My desktop PC will run Windows 7.

your not going to upgrade to a superior OS for lack of DVD video playback? really? if your so desperate, buy the MC addon or just open the windows market and find a free alternative.

Another example of how Microsoft, with its Windows-8 is abandoning the laptop/desktop marketplace for smartphones and tablet users.

So why is Apple able to include DVD support and still sell OS X for €24? Don't give me the whole "Apple is a hardware company BS", they still have to pay all the same.

.Neo said,
So why is Apple able to include DVD support and still sell OS X for €24? Don't give me the whole "Apple is a hardware company BS", they still have to pay all the same.

Because the disks you buy from apple are not full licenses, they're technically upgrade disks. And yes the hardware thing is why. When you buy a Mac, a good chunk of the price there is for the OS. It's baked to the hardware price. And since OSX can only be installed on macs, and every Mac is sold with OSX every boxed OSX copy is an upgrade, and as such all the licenses for suff like this is included in the base price of the OS which is included when you buy the conpurer.

.Neo said,
So why is Apple able to include DVD support and still sell OS X for €24? Don't give me the whole "Apple is a hardware company BS", they still have to pay all the same.
because they charge u 10000000k$ for normal hardware

DKAngel said,
because they charge u 10000000k$ for normal hardware
they make more money on hardware than they do on osx sales that is how it gets covered

Billion Dollars in Royalties for PCs to play DVD!!! I'd drop it too.. When a DVD is inserted , i hope there is some sort of notification or links to third party dvd playing software software

for everyone who says why does VLC PLAY DVDS Read up about libdvdcss even then vlc can not remove the copy protection from all dvds this is where something like slysoft anydvd comes in as i yet to see a dvd it can't uncrypted copy protection wise this

also means with copy protection remove and such that vlc will have no problem playing the dvd

Ad Man Gamer said,
goodbye physical media, you have served us well.

This has nothing to do with data disks, or Windows install DVDs, only DVD video playback (and possibly some mpeg TV or internet mpeg video's)

Yeah it's not a problem, keep kissing Microsoft's a$$ guys and gals. If you had half a brain you would get off your knees and tell them to bugger off.

Mike Frett said,
Yeah it's not a problem, keep kissing Microsoft's a$$ guys and gals. If you had half a brain you would get off your knees and tell them to bugger off.

Tell us more Mike please! .. the ignorant masses obviously need to be educated by those of a higher class , such as yourself ...

I used my DVD drive on Win7 only one time for the Win 7 install DVD. But however, I am very sure, if Win 8 would be a Desktop-PC only OS, we would have no discuss like this.

Lastwebpage said,
I used my DVD drive on Win7 only one time for the Win 7 install DVD. But however, I am very sure, if Win 8 would be a Desktop-PC only OS, we would have no discuss like this.

This *discussion* is not new - or even news; it happened with Windows 7 as well (after the same folks basically BOHICA'd Microsoft into paying the extra royalties). I actually *get* Microsoft's position - if it pays the royalties (and passes the costs along) it gets whacked; however, if it doesn't, it STILL gets whacked. Is there truly a winning position?

DVD's are silly now, of course there will be a lot of windows "hate" from die hards saying at least apple's can play DVD's.

Personally I think with the way of digital distribution I doubt win8 will have MUCH of a problem. For the most part there will be workarounds. There is probably a way to lift Win7 DVD decryption to Win8 all ready.

No problem with this here!

Surely most people would like to pay less for the operating system and choose their own media players anyway? ... and there will always be 'fixes' available!

I can see there point because I very rarely use the blue ray drive in my computer anyway. If you to play a DVD there's plenty of freeware stuff available anyway. If you buy a pre built computer from a shop its got there software preloaded anyway.

I think its not like absolutely no DVD's will play its just films and music I think and like someone has said VLC rocks. I think its good there doing this.

mocax said,
so if i get windows 8 ultimate, i'll still have to pay extra?

What Ultimate? There is no Ultimate SKU. Don't you remember all the whinging over how "complicated" the SKU range was? That's why there's now only standard and Pro for x86.

mocax said,
so if i get windows 8 ultimate, i'll still have to pay extra?

I don't think there is going to be an ultimate version, you'd get Pro and then pay a bit extra for the Media Center pack. But that still just means you're going to have to watch DVDs via media center and not media player. Or, like others have said, if you really care about DVDs there's a large number of free players out that should still be free even in Windows 8. MPCHC, VLC, etc

They make a pretty fair point. Though it's still kinda funny they finally decided to stick with fewer versions of Windows yet they're dropping features now.

But it's all about the moolah, it always is.

astroXP said,
They make a pretty fair point. Though it's still kinda funny they finally decided to stick with fewer versions of Windows yet they're dropping features now.

But it's all about the moolah, it always is.

I think OEMs asked for this as well, I bet to cut netbook and tablet costs down for them, they should see a cheaper Windows license now, dunno if retail will be the same, but to date each new version of windows has had a lower price iirc.

GP007 said,

I think OEMs asked for this as well, I bet to cut netbook and tablet costs down for them, they should see a cheaper Windows license now, dunno if retail will be the same, but to date each new version of windows has had a lower price iirc.


Netbooks used Windows 7 Starter => no DVD Codec => no licensing fees…

MFH said,

Netbooks used Windows 7 Starter => no DVD Codec => no licensing fees…

That's true, but this time around there will be no "starter edition" There's just Windows 8 so something had to go.

GP007 said,

That's true, but this time around there will be no "starter edition" There's just Windows 8 so something had to go.


So, what you're saying is that now there aren't enough SKU's... Lol. I guess it did make sense after all...

Joni_78 said,
And they still licensed Dolby Digital Plus for all editions!

They license the codecs for formats used by or are going to be used by any of the number of streaming media services out their, not to mention their own Zune/Xbox etc. Besides, I'd like to think that MPEG2 and DVDs by extension are a dying format, MPEG4/h264 and BD should be what people want to watch with today.

Joni_78 said,
And they still licensed Dolby Digital Plus for all editions!

Why not, even a phone can play Dolby Digital Plus content, were a codec to play a DVD would be worthless.

GP007 said,

Besides, I'd like to think that MPEG2 and DVDs by extension are a dying format, MPEG4/h264 and BD should be what people want to watch with today.

BluRay also includes VC1, which is preferred for quality by several media companies. The VC1 is the 'easy' one for Microsoft, since they created it. (aka WMV)

VC1 is the cheapest and least encumbered of the HD codecs. People need to move more to VC1 and/or other true 'standards' and kill off the MPEG consortium.

They just approve crap that makes the most money for the companies involved. Which is why Microsoft dumped MPEG4 support and work in the 1990s.

PS Microsoft dumping their MPEG work is where the original code that fueled Divx/Xvid came from, it was freely discard code from Microsoft.

Melfster said,
I have no problem with this there are better free alternatives then those provided with windows.

I don't get it. I thought MPEG-2 (Like MPEG-4 Part 10) had an annual cap on the amount a software company must pay per device?

Rosyna said,

I don't get it. I thought MPEG-2 (Like MPEG-4 Part 10) had an annual cap on the amount a software company must pay per device?

What if the company doesn't make a device?

Also MPEG4 is encumbered with additional fees if 'requested' and still has outstanding claims.

See the Motorola versus Microsoft in Germany news story for example.

Well, that certainly stinks. If/when I upgrade to Windows 8, I'll have to find some DVD playing software to use... (I don't like the one included with my laptop.)

JaykeBird said,
Well, that certainly stinks. If/when I upgrade to Windows 8, I'll have to find some DVD playing software to use... (I don't like the one included with my laptop.)

VLC Player (freeware)

ShareShiz said,

VLC Player (freeware)


VLC Player for Windows 8 will most likely not have a free edition since they general Windows 8 license will not include the royalty. It will be covered in the Media Center Pack, so you may have to buy the pack if you want to use it or pay for the Windows 8 Version.

Drewidian said,


VLC Player for Windows 8 will most likely not have a free edition since they general Windows 8 license will not include the royalty. It will be covered in the Media Center Pack, so you may have to buy the pack if you want to use it or pay for the Windows 8 Version.

But VLC in Linux plays DVD's doesn't it?

JaykeBird said,
Well, that certainly stinks. If/when I upgrade to Windows 8, I'll have to find some DVD playing software to use... (I don't like the one included with my laptop.)

Seriously? At most this might cost you $20 from Microsoft or a third party.

thenetavenger said,

Seriously? At most this might cost you $20 from Microsoft or a third party.

Why pay when I could find something free?

And how do open source programs like VLC manage to play DVD's for FREE?

Why does Microsoft have to pay Dolby? Can't they use the open source codecs, or write its own?

As I've already bought 20 different Windows operating systems (including 2 Windows 7 ones), don't I already have any number of "licenses" for Dolby or MPEG anyway?

My Microsoft BS meter is going off!

dvb2000 said,
And how do open source programs like VLC manage to play DVD's for FREE?

Why does Microsoft have to pay Dolby? Can't they use the open source codecs, or write its own?

As I've already bought 20 different Windows operating systems (including 2 Windows 7 ones), don't I already have any number of "licenses" for Dolby or MPEG anyway?

My Microsoft BS meter is going off!

Its very likely that because the codec is already licensed for Windows in general that VLC and any other DVD playback software did not have to cover royalties for the technology. Now that the royalty is not included in the vast majority of Windows 8 licensing, you probably will have to pay for it through some fee.

Drewidian said,
Its very likely that because the codec is already licensed for Windows in general

If that's the case for DVD's how does VLC play Blu-rays now - license free?

dvb2000 said,
And how do open source programs like VLC manage to play DVD's for FREE?
I think they get around it by simply ignoring licensing fees. An open source player can probably get away with it, Microsoft not so much.

Or maybe the fact that Microsoft have already licensed it gives you permission to use VLC. Guess we'll see what happens with Windows 8 comes out.

dvb2000 said,

If that's the case for DVD's how does VLC play Blu-rays now - license free?

It could be because VLC is free while Windows is not? It might just be as clear cut as that. On the bluray side there are codecs you have to pay for out there, CoreAVC for example, while others like FFDshow are free but those use a different library to decode.

In the end OSS skirt around the issue with the way the codecs are but also because they're free software and no one is actually making a dime off of them (or shouldn't be) there really isn't anything to sue over. MS isn't in the same boat, they'd get sued the next day.

dvb2000 said,
And how do open source programs like VLC manage to play DVD's for FREE?

Why does Microsoft have to pay Dolby? Can't they use the open source codecs, or write its own?

France doesn't acknowledge software patents and VLC's website is hosted in france therefore it isn't illegal for people in france and other countries that don't acknowledge software patents. If you live in the U.K or U.S and you use vlc to play a dvd you are technically committing a crime.

dvb2000 said,
And how do open source programs like VLC manage to play DVD's for FREE?

Why does Microsoft have to pay Dolby? Can't they use the open source codecs, or write its own?

As I've already bought 20 different Windows operating systems (including 2 Windows 7 ones), don't I already have any number of "licenses" for Dolby or MPEG anyway?

My Microsoft BS meter is going off!

It is scary that you ask something like this...

Microsoft has 'shackles' and legal obligations, just like a company that makes a DVD player, cannot use a 'free' chipset/codec to decode the image and MUST PAY licensing fees and royalties.

The legality of free software using MPEG codecs is not black and white, especially depending on where you live.