It’s sad that we have to write an article with a title like this. I’m not writing this because I think Windows 8 users are stupid. I’m writing this because thousands of users are searching the internet trying to discover how to play something as simple as a DVD or Blu-Ray on their Windows 8 computers.
It’s a testament to Windows 8’s lack of user-friendliness that users are left searching Google to discover how to do something so simple. A task that is easy on just about every other operating system in the world (including previous Windows OSes) becomes so difficult with windows 8.
Why is playing a DVD or Blu-Ray on Windows 8 so difficult?
Microsoft made the difficult decision to remove DVD and Blu-Ray playback capabilities from Windows 8. DVD playback was included on Windows 7, making it easy to pop a DVD into your disc tray and play the movie using Windows Media Player.
Microsoft isn’t stupid. They didn’t just forget to include media playback capabilities. Instead, in order to legally play DVDs and Blu-Rays, Microsoft needs to pay MPEG-LA (an evil, inefficient patent-holding consortium) $2 per operating system license sold. Microsoft was happy to pay the $2 for Windows 7 users by passing the cost onto consumers.
But with Windows 8, Microsoft decided that too few people used DVD or Blu-Rays over their computers any more. As a result, Microsoft removed the codecs and saved itself (and consumers) $2 per license.
So how do I play Blu-Rays and DVDs on Windows 8?
Fortunately, playing your movies on Windows 8 isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Windows 8 Pro users
Download Windows Media Center for free by visiting the official Microsoft website here. But be careful: Windows Media Center is only free until January 31, 2013, and after that, Microsoft will want users to pay somewhere between $10 and $25 for the program.
Basic Windows 8 users
Most Windows 8 users are using Windows 8 Pro. But an unfortunate few will have to shell out a lot more money in order to play DVDs or Blu-Ray discs through Windows 8’s default media player.
If you’re a Windows 8 non-pro user, you’ll have to buy the Windows 8 Pro Pack upgrade for $70. That $70 gives you access to Media Center as well as Remote Desktop, BitLocker encryption, and a few other useful Windows 8 Pro tools.
Windows Media Center isn’t even that good. It doesn’t give users the ability to play Blu-Ray discs, which require a more extensive (and expensive) list of codecs than DVD playback. In order to play Blu-Rays on Windows 8, you’ll need to turn to a third-party solution as seen below.
The easier and 100% free way to play DVDs and Blu-rays – VLC
With all of the complicated steps and money involved in the process listed above, it’s no wonder computer users have given up trying to legally navigate their way through online content. Thanks to a French program that has decided to ignore patent laws, any Windows 8 user can watch DVDs or Blu-Ray discs for free through VLC Media Player.
VLC Media Player is a free open-source player that can play just about any video file you throw at. It escapes patent laws by a) being located in Europe and b) being open-source and not selling itself for a profit.
VLC isn’t the only free video playback software available today. But it’s the best free one. You could pay $50 or more for programs like Cyberlink PowerDVD, but why would you do that when VLC Media Player does everything and more?
Install VLC today and instantly play encrypted and non-encrypted DVDs, Blu-Rays, and more over Windows 8.