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How To Play DVDs on Windows 8

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Upgrade to Windows 8 and you may be surprised to find that you can no longer play video DVDs. Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 8 doesn’t include built-in support for playing DVDs.

Microsoft opted not to include DVD support because so many new computers – especially tablets and ultrabooks – aren’t coming with DVD drives. Microsoft pays a licensing fee for each copy of Windows that ships with DVD support.

Note: You can still use data DVDs with Windows 8. This only applies to video DVDs.

Install a Third-Party DVD Player

The easiest way to play DVDs in Windows 8 is by installing a third-party DVD player. We recommend the popular VLC media player. It’s free, and after you install it you’ll be able to play DVDs in VLC – no problem.

To play a DVD in VLC, click the Media menu and select Open Disc.

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VLC is far from the only media player you can use — there are a ton of free, third-party media players with integrated support for DVDs.

Use a Licensed DVD Player

If you purchased a new Windows 8 computer that comes with a DVD drive, your computer’s manufacturer has likely included DVD-playing software with your computer. It will probably be configured to open automatically when you insert a video DVD. If it isn’t, you can try typing DVD at the Start screen to search your installed applications and see if you have any applications with DVD in their name.

To examine all the software on your computer, use the All Apps screen. Press the Windows key to access the Start screen, right-click anywhere on the Start screen, and select All Apps. Scroll through the list of installed applications and look for a DVD-playing program.

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Purchase the Windows 8 Media Center Pack

Microsoft no longer includes Windows Media Center with Windows 8. Windows Media Center, which includes DVD playback, is available separately. If you have Windows 8 Pro, you can purchase the Windows 8 Media Center Pack to activate Windows Media Center and DVD playback on your computer.

Microsoft is offering the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for free until January 31, 2013 – click here to get it.

If you have the basic, non-Pro edition of Windows 8 on your computer, you’ll have to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro by purchasing the Windows 8 Pro Pack before you can get Windows 8 Media Center. Use the Add features to Windows 8 control panel to upgrade. To open it, press the Windows key, type add features, tap or click the Settings category, and tap or click Add features to Windows 8.

Windows Media Center is not available for Enterprise versions of Windows 8.

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While it may seem a bit weird that Microsoft has removed this feature from Windows 8, it’s explained by the increasing focus on streaming media and the amount of new computers coming without DVD drives.

The easy installation of VLC and the reality that computer manufacturers will include their own DVD-playing software mean that Windows 8’s lack of DVD support isn’t really a problem.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 11/2/12

Comments (33)

  1. Sonic 1992

    Idiocracy was perfect to use in your example… As Windows 8 is a big leap foward towards Idiocracy.. Big buttons for brainless idiots to use! I’m so disgusted with this dumbed down windows.

  2. MdKnightR

    Just another reason to not upgrade to Windows 8. Seems that the business world agrees with me …. http://ct.techrepublic.com/clicks?t=1157362569-64f3ae61d32c9819b5259c5bc12bfc17-bf&brand=TECHREPUBLIC&s=5

  3. Marco

    Majority of those who hate Windows 8 are idiots/stupid/noobs.

  4. Josh Gunderson

    Idiocracy — love that movie! It’s a shame how Fox didn’t market it at all.

    Won’t be upgrading my “media center” laptop (closed and hooked to receiver via HDMI) to Win8 any time soon, but thanks for the guide.

  5. cityboy3

    I think you people would bitch if you got hung with a new rope!!!!! Don’t upgrade and stay in the back of us who like change.

  6. spiny norman

    Marco, I think the only people who don’t hate Windows 8 are Microsoft shills and Apple stockholders.

  7. Bueb Tube

    I could care less about Windows 8. I’ve tried it and it just sucks. So I’m sticking with Windows 7 until the bitter end which still isn’t even in sight yet.

    I probably would have stayed with XP had Media Center been included. But it isn’t. Of course, there is an XP Media Center edition. But those XP licenses are very specific where Media Center is obviously the extra feature you pay for. It’s only now a separate thing with Windows 8. And it’s not like I’m even going to even consider XP or Windows 8 since I already paid a small fortune for Windows 7 (ultimate retail, no less). Therefore, I’m pretty much committed to getting every last drop of value out of Windows 7 that I can.

    But if I ever were tempted to change OS’s I would absolutely have to have something as easy to use as Media Center. I need/use Media Center for it’s DVR/PVR (not DVD) capabilities along with my TV tuner. So if anyone could ever come up with something like that in the Linux world then I probably wouldn’t even be using Windows. (And don’t be so quick to point out MythTV either – I said “easy”.) But good luck there. Have you checked out the huge mess Ubuntu 12.10 has become? I’ll save you the trouble – don’t! Even “Ubuntu TV” remains an apparent wish that will never come true for desktops.

    Still, all this talk about DVD playback does make me wonder why VLC and so many others can apparently get away with free DVD decoding/decrypting. Even when these apps are run in Windows 8 they seem to be more capable players than anything Microsoft has. So the argument of DVD playback licensing sounds more like an excuse to charge more for Windows if you ask me.

    I only wonder what else won’t be included in Windows 8. Notepad? Antivirus? Updates?! One thing’s for sure, you’ll still have to deal with Microsoft’s IE web browser (which is why I keep looking in the Linux world).

  8. Windows8user

    Question:

    I have Windows 8 Pro N, so it doesn’t have media player.

    I tried to install a voice changer (screaming bee audio) and it wouldn’t work because of some reason I can’t remember off the top of my head right now, but it was clearly related to having these… not sure what to call them, so I’ll just call them “restricted extras” like on ubuntu.

    What do I do? And how do I do it without Metro? (I don’t have high enough screen resolution.)

  9. Bob

    Win 8 still has Windows Media Player 12 installed. It’s just not obvious. On the start page type media and when offered select WMP and pin (right click) it to the task bar or the start page. If it does not play what you want then install the codecs for Win 8 from Shark 007 here http://shark007.net/win8codecs.html and if you have a 64 bit system then get the x64 extension via the link on the same page. Read the info carefully and get the download not one of their adverts. After that you will have all of the codecs you want for any file including DVDs.

  10. Warren North

    I use linux mint so I can customize my system any way I like.
    But windows is ok i use to test my pc because it does work with the hardware.
    Win 7 Ultimate is there best by far.

  11. Isma'il

    I don’t see what all the fuss about Windows 8 is all about. I just received my Win 8 Pro upgrade and installed it. No problems whatsoever….Period. I’m also a Windows Phone user and there are more pluses than minuses to me. The “Windows 7″ desktop environment is available to use, if “Metro” scares you off. All my Windows Live content is available through the Metro interface, including my photos and documents from my Windows Phone, without having to access them through a web browser. I’ve downloaded VLC player for DVDs which really is no big deal; it’s a solid product. With HTG’s help, I’ve figured out how to get my programs menu back on the taskbar in the classic environment, which includes the PC settings application. I can access all the personal folders, disk and network drives attached to my system through Windows Explorer while in the classic Windows environment.

    IE10 in the Metro interface is fast and secure. I don’t have to install separate antivirus software, as Windows Defender is both antispyware and antivirus and comes with Windows 8. The Metro applications are sandboxed for better security. The only complaint I have is that Metro applications are all full-screen and can’t be windowed. Switching between Metro apps, though, is easy.

    All in all, Win 8 gives people the best of both worlds: A “Windows 7″ classic environment and the Windows 8 Metro environment. Both can be running at the same time and users can switch between the two, depending on the tasks they’re doing and what works better for them.

    Don’t knock it until you REALLY try it (and leave your biases and pre-conceived notions at the door, please).

  12. Citrus Rain

    @Isma’il

    I think it all depends on the device.
    I hated it on the laptop I installed it on. But now I have it on a touch screen netbook. (much better)

  13. MATTHEW WISE

    GOT WIN8 PRO and it works. took a bit of getting used to but I like the challenge. With the sale price of only 42$ how can you say No

  14. Prius Geek

    4 letters: XBMC. Yes, it took a bit of finagling to get live video going with MediaPortal as a back end, but I have to say XBMC is better than MC in all ways IMHO. Even when I used MC on WinXP and Win7, I still had problems reading certain media types, like mkv’s and bluray. With XBMC, it just works. I’ll never go back (even if I could, which I can’t because I am using Win8 Enterprise which probably won’t ever support MC anyway).

  15. WhytteDragun

    I’ll start using Win8 sometime next week. The only reason I’m using 8 instead of 7 is that my college has some sort of deal with microsoft that let’s its students (and faculty/staff I’d guess) get a copy of 8 for free, and a free OS is a good thing.

  16. WhytteDragun

    Starting next week because that’s when the parts for my new PC are due to arrive.

  17. Chemical

    Loving Windows 8 Pro on my desktop! I like the eye pleasing start screen better than the start menu from Windows 7. The revamped task manager, file copy, boot times, online user account, snappy UI, etc made the decision easy to upgrade to Windows 8 on all the PC’s in my home.

    I was a Windows 8 hater. After installing the OS in VM and taking it for a test drive I was ready to make it my primary OS. I will never go back to Windows 7.

  18. Isma'il

    @Citrus Rain:

    I have it on a notebook computer. I can’t wait for the Windows 8 Pro version of the Surface to come out :)

  19. 8686

    this is bs. Why can’t we have an OS designed for a PC and not a tablet? They should make their own OS for portable devices. (And not force the desktop pc’s to use it).

  20. Phil

    Yet another reason not to upgrade Windows. – Why should I “upgrade” when the upgrade includes less features, reduced compatability with my existing accessories, and I’m expected to pay extra to upgrade to “Pro” versions before i get the “free” media center upgrade?

    I’ll stick with what I have, and if I do decide to “upgrade” it’ll be an actual upgrade – a Ubuntu media center (either XBMCbuntu or Mythbuntu).

  21. Pradeep

    Microsoft is giving WMC keys free. so go ahead and enjoy.
    Every business wants to take out that extra nickel from your pocket. Be is apple or microsoft. But obviously MS learned fast that an OS which cannot play a basic, not to say very very old format like DVD just S@$+s. So they are giving it free upgrade. And by the way no OS is perfect and no company is honest. MS and Apple all the best ideas of others or buy them and then they are the first one to sue other companies for stupid patents. Oh… I made my phone in rectangular shape so no one else can do it now.. it my patent. My icons are round, so you better make them in some other shape because circular shapes are mine.. PATHETIC.

    I would recommend open source OS like Ubuntu, Linux Mint etc but then they have their own limitations.

    So why are we upset that MS has come out with another OS after a gap of 3-4 years. Android is coming out with next version almost every other month. Mobile companies are launching new models every week, inflation is going up every day.. and so on.

    Windows XP can do everything Windows 8 can, but if they keep on supporting old OS then who would buy new one? Apple iphone 3GS or apple iphone 5. there is nothing ground breaking technology. Ratina Display.. my my. on a 4 inch screen, how many pixels you want ? Your 17-20 inch computer screen shows you good enough colours on 1028×768 resolution. In my humble opinion these are marketing gimmicks.

    So let us enjoy the new mobile, new OS, new gadgets if we can afford them. Otherwise be happy nevertheless because you are not missing anything.

  22. Rich

    Purchased Windows 8 on older computer and got the media center upgrade.
    Here is the problem. Media center is not a windows 8 application. It is just pinned to the start menu of Windows 8. It is just a shell from the previous desk top. When you close it out, you go straight to your original desk top. It wont even go back to Windows 8 Start screen.
    There fore, M$ did not need to delete the application, It is the same app. I even had the same T.V. channels already dialed in and set, after the new download !!!
    M$ also did not have to delete DVD. My computer was able to play DVD, it should still be able to.
    Hopefully they have some grand plan to update Media Center, and make it worth. But for now, it’s a grand plan of extra cash for something you already had on your original O.S.

  23. Doh

    Windows has always required either an upgrade or 3rd party codec to play DVDs. Why is it such a big deal now? People are just digging for something bad to say about W8. Even without using it. There are free 3rd party codecs for use since XP or even earlier. Get over it people.

    Most FOSS Linux distributions don’t have codecs either. You either have to use a hybrid distribution or install codecs yourself. Don’t hear them bitching about it.

  24. Doh

    “Upgrade to Windows 8 and you may be surprised to find that you can no longer play video DVDs. Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 8 doesn’t include built-in support for playing DVDs.”

    I believe you are confused. The “BLOATWARE” that is usually installed with new PCs allowed you to play DVDs. For example, PowerDVD codecs come pre-installed on many computers. These have nothing to do with Microsoft. There are no native Microsoft codecs. Get your facts straight and stop this smear campaign.

  25. Eric L

    @Doh – you’re just as smart as a dull toothpick. It has everything to do with Microsoft. Why would you not support DVD’s with Media Player?! OS should be ready to go once it’s installed no?

    I guess those hundreds of DVD’s still being sold in retail stores are just obsolete?

    Windows 8 is huge joke. Go ahead and play with your colorful tiles…

  26. Doh

    @ERIC L. If you read my post you would notice the argument is not wether Microsoft “should” provide codecs, but that they have “never” provided codecs without upgrade or 3rd party’s. Sony PS2 played DVD for about a year until the security on DVD changed. Then it stopped playing them. The original xbox did not play DVD without an extra accessory package.

    I guess the powers that be figure you are buying a game console to play games. You are buying a PC to do 1000 things other than play DVD. Playing DVD is a privilege not a necessity.

    You want to play 100s of DVD, go buy a dedicated DVD player.

    Notice I can get my point across without name calling and derogatory statements? Guess I’m 1up on you eh?

    I await your ignorant response…

  27. Doh

    “OS should be ready to go once it’s installed no?”

    Ha, this statement makes me laugh. By your logic, when you buy a PC it should come preinstalled with every imaginable program for every imaginable task?

    I think not…

  28. Dave

    For the people bitching about 8 not playing DVD’s natively neither did XP and I think Vista was the same

  29. Giuseppe

    All you Windows 8 haters out there, ROFL!! Do you hate Windows 8?? Or is it the fact that the Windows Desktop is morphing to a tablet form?? What do you expect Microsoft to do? Give you what you want and expect them not to lose the market share? Imaging using the Windows 7 Start menu on a tablet, the experience would just suck! Microsoft realized that they need to adapt by supporting Apps, they just work and the masses love them! All you people crying out there, bashing Microsoft is just your outlet from dealing with change!!

  30. Skiman

    Like everyone here, I hated the idea of Windows 8 and dreaded it, tried the consumer preview and I thought ok, made it my primary OS for about 2 weeks on a virtual machine, then the release preview came out, made it my primary OS as a virtual machine. Then I found a loophole that allowed me to update my win 7 to win 8 pro for 14.95, so I did it. I love it now, its awesome

    I bought the surface RT and its great, might as well sell my ipad on ebay, because I really can’t see myself using this out of date tablet anymore

    May buy the surface pro next year if no other companies bring out a better model in the meantime

  31. beakie

    For me Windows 8 was too good to pass-up at £24.99 as an ISO download. Have it on DVD now and it’s not so much great as interesting. Let’s face it, this is todays technology, though having said that there is no chance of me forking out for a touch-screen monitor……..mouse does the job a whole lot easier on a desktop PC.

  32. Krishna

    Hi.. to resolve this issue, You can just do this… Run command prompt as Admin (Windows key + X and click Command Prompt(Admin) ) and execute the below command and restart your PC.. It worked for me

    reg.exe add “HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\atapi\Controller0″ /f /v EnumDevice1 /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00000001

  33. Brad

    Wow. How unbelievably ignorant of Microsoft. I still burn and play Dvd’s, especially for my 5 year old grandson. Had I known Windows 8 did not come with a DVD player, I certainly wouldn’t have made the purchase. There is the small fact that streaming video is not free, it freezes regularly and not all of us can afford mobile broadband. I have spent 5 hours going thru Windows 8. I still can’t find even a simple listing of the programs on my computer. Finally, I downloaded that VLC media player. It would not work, regardless of what I did or which directions I followed. Thanks for ripping us off AGAIN Microsoft!

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