The mainstream version of Windows 8 won't include DVD playback nor Media Center support, and Microsoft cites waning interest in PC based use of physical movie discs as the reason
The expected most popular version of Windows 8 will not feature built-in DVD playback or include Media Center, both of which are currently available as part of the equivalent Windows 7 Home Premium version.
Microsoft has simplified the Windows 8 line-up, and in a blog post last month, revealed that there will only be two purchasable versions of the new OS, the mainstream standard version simply labeled as "Windows 8", and the more fully featured "Windows 8 Pro".
But since that announcement, and subsequent press releases to clear up the issue further, a mini furor has erupted over the removal of both built-in DVD playback and the Media Center component from the mainstream version of Windows 8. Even buyers of the Pro version would still have to shell out extra money to add Media Center, and DVD playback, back to the OS. The upgrade is expected to cost less than $10.
Unlike DVD playback, Blu-ray movie playback has never been built in to any version of Windows, and this remains unchanged in Windows 8.
Microsoft cites the diminishing popularity of DVDs and even Blu-ray on PCs as the reason for this move, and the "significant amount in royalties" required to offer support. It is estimated that including DVD and Blu-ray playback would cost the Redmond giant $5 to $15 in terms of additional licensing fees.
Some analysts also say this is also Microsoft's way of promoting its "physical disc free" video streaming offerings, available via Windows 8's Video app, allowing users to buy, rent and even streaming purchased videos to their Xbox 360 console.
For those that still do use their PCs to play DVDs (and Blu-rays), the free VideoLAN (VLC) seems like the perfect alternative. Based in France where software patents do not exist, the team behind VLC is able to offer DVD (and Blu-ray) playback without having to pay royalties. Its hard working developers have also promised to provide Windows 8 support and enhanced Blu-ray playback by the time the new OS is released.