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Windows 8 Won't Play DVDs Unless You Pay For the Media Center Pack 734

An anonymous reader writes "You may already know that Microsoft plans to sell Windows Media Center as a separate, paid pack, but now the company has revealed that Windows 8 will also stop default support for DVD playback. You'll only be able to play DVDs and Blu-rays if you upgrade to the Media Center pack. 'Acquiring either the Windows 8 Media Center Pack or the Windows 8 Pro Pack gives you Media Center, including DVD playback (in Media Center, not in Media Player), broadcast TV recording and playback (DBV-T/S, ISDB-S/T, DMBH, and ATSC), and VOB file playback. Pricing for these Packs, as well as retail versions of Windows 8, will be announced closer to the release date. To give you some indication of Media Center Pack pricing, it will be in line with marginal costs.'" In a comment, Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky elaborates: "(marginal is small, honest, and we just haven't determined the final prices yet based on ongoing work but we are aiming for single digit dollars but we don't control the truly marginal costs). We wanted to include Media Player for everyone without everyone incurring the cost even if they don't even have an optical drive."
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Windows 8 Won't Play DVDs Unless You Pay For the Media Center Pack

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  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:22PM (#39891541)

    Now I've got to pay for every damned little thing in the OS too.

    What's next, is there going to be an extra $5 charge every time I change the BIOS settings? A $2 charge by the firmware when I add RAM?

    It's like government. No politician has the balls for raise taxes openly and directly, so instead you get a million nickel-and-dime fees and surtaxes to annoy the shit out of you at every turn.

    Just raise the price of Windows if that's what you need to do, MS. I'd much rather a Windows license go from $100 to $120 than to have a window popping up at every turn saying I need to pay for some expansion pack if I want this-or-that little feature to work.

    • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:26PM (#39891615)

      How about $100 to get a C compiler, just so that you can write any program that isn't grindingly slow?

      Get off my lawn.

      • Um, Microsoft makes its C/C++ compiler available for free, along with the Windows SDK. You're probably thinking of Visual Studio, but Microsoft makes a basic version for C/C++ free as Visual C++ Express; effectively, a basic Visual Studio edition purely for C/C++ coding without the enterprise features. If you need those features, you're probably doing more than hobbyist development/basic development.
        • by slew ( 2918 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @01:01PM (#39892199)

          Noting the "get-of-my-lawn" comment, perhaps the OP was thinking about Solaris.

          A long time ago (>10 years), Sun (now Oracle) unbundled the C-compiler from the standard Solaris 2.x package and they started charging extra for their Ansi C-compiler (and it might have been $100 come to think about it)... The theory was that you didn't need the compiler if you were just using Solaris for a workstation running pre-compiled apps (there was an old BSD cc around to recompile the kernel, but it was K&R only), but if you were a Wall-street Quant, you had the money to pay extra for the privilage of writing your own code so they were gonna charge you for the privlage. Of couse the pre-compiled GCC binaries worked just fine on Solaris, so it didn't bother most folks who were tinkering with their own code.

          • by damnbunni ( 1215350 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @01:55PM (#39892959) Journal

            $100 isn't too bad. NeXTStep 3.3 and up were $800 for the OS, and $5000 for the compiler.

            And without the $5000 compiler you couldn't use GCC, because the header files came with the compiler package.

            Pain in the butt.

      • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:47PM (#39891983) Journal

        You can get Visual Studio Express with it's C compiler, for free.
        You can get GCC through either MinGW or Cygwin for free.

        Why would you want to pay $100? If you really want, you can give me $100 and I'll send you any of these on a CD...

      • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:54PM (#39892097)

        There are plenty of ways to get a C/C++ compiler for Windows that you dont need to pay for.
        You can download the Visual C++ Express Edition IDE which includes the same compiler as in the paid version (including all the optimization switches and stuff)
        You can download various Microsoft SDKs that include the C/C++ compiler
        Or if you dont like the Microsoft compiler, there is OpenWatcom, the free version of the Borland compiler and of course various GCC ports. And there are probably others I haven't listed.

    • by poet ( 8021 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:28PM (#39891655) Homepage

      This is actually a very smart move. Microsoft has to pay DVD player manufacturers to allow you to play DVDs. Here is the thing.... in the next 18 months you won't see DVD players on most laptops. Heck mine doesn't even have a CDROM. Even my media center does't use DVDs, I just play an avi file or stream from netflix/amazon.

      Further, you can always use VLC. This really isn't a big deal.

      • my media pc has an nvidia (ion1) onboard and I dualboot betwen linux for myth-tv client-side use or win7 for dvd play use.

        when playing recording OTA stuff from my myth-server, this has to be linux on the client side as there is no (?) win version.

        howevever, video playback is NOT as good as win7/nvidia drivers are. not quite as clean. I'm very sorry to say that but its true.

        I'm not so picky these days and I stay in myth-client most of the time; but for really clean video, its reality that MS's video system

      • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:55PM (#39892127) Journal
        And it's an even better move if a patent troll comes along. (Like Motorola demanding H.264 rates based on the full price of the computer, hardware and software). Revenue isn't $200 for the full copy of windows, it's $5 or $10 for the Media Center Pack.

        I can't be the only one that remembers when Windows didn't have mp3 support because they didn't want to pay the royalties.

        • I think you nailed it. MS pays a fortune to MPEG-LA to ensure that it isn't liable for patent suits. Since it turns out that they are liable either way it's not worth it for them to blanket-license their OS anymore.

      • by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @01:02PM (#39892229)

        Additionally, it sounds like they're cutting out the DVD functionality to save the royalty costs, AND that they plan to pass those savings on to customers. Whether that will actually be the case in reality remains to be seen. I'm not a Microsoft fan, but if that is what they end up doing, I have to give them kudos for that.

        For myself, I won't miss DVD playback. My home PCs don't even have optical drives installed. I have a USB DVD drive, which I've used probably less than 5 times in the past year, and only once or twice for DVDs.

        But besides all that, as you pointed out, there's plenty of free software players out there now. I prefer VLC over Media Center anyway.

        • by Corbets ( 169101 )

          Am I the only one paranoid enough to see this as a long-term mafiaa plan? OS doesn't have DVD support, so the hardware manufacturers stop including DVD drives (which is already happening on many models anyway). 5 years from now, you're completely unable to buy a device with which you can rip DVDs... Which means no more pirates. People pay for the DVD for their home entertainment system, and they pay again for the digital version for their pc and iDevice.

          But maybe I just had too much coffee this morning.

      • Here is the thing.... in the next 18 months you won't see DVD players on most laptops.


        In the next 18 months Microsoft will strongarm OEM's into omitting the DVD drives on most laptops.

        It'll be just like in the mid 1990's when Compaq switched the CD drives in their servers from SCSI models to IDE models because Microsoft told them to. And it'll be just like in the late 2000's when Microsoft started forcing netbook manufacturers to lard up the specs on the previously cheap devices because they needed just enough horsepower to run Windows XP.

        Microsoft still has feet over the necks of all major OEM's. Until this problem is corrected, they will still call the shots.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Strong arm? How many tablets will have a DVD drive? How many phones? Ultrabooks?

          Windows 8 isn't just for PCs. If they can remove the cost for devices that don't need, then how is that bad for the consumer?

          Or do you think that all windows 8 machines, including your cell phone and tablet, should have the included cost of DVD royalties in them?

        • I was surprised, shopping for laptops recently, how few actually came with an optical drive. The laptops the manufacturers are pushing are either Netbooks or sub-notebooks, with regular, plain old, laptops generally being aimed at corporate buyers.

          So no, I don't think this has anything to do with Microsoft strong-arming anyone. And why would they want to anyway? Microsoft would be more likely to go in the other direction, wanting DVD drives included so that the computers that come with Windows are used a

      • It *would* be a good idea assuming that the cost of a computer with Win8 without DVD playback actually cost less. But I think the chances of that are very slim. So while MS theoretically is doing a good thing here by allowing those who don't need DVD playback to pay less, the reality is that someone (MS, PC manufacturer, retailer, ...) will suck up that little bit of potential savings and consumers will end up paying more to get DVD playback rather than less to not have it.

      • Microsoft has to pay DVD player manufacturers to allow you to play DVDs.

        Not quite. DVD player manufacturers have to pay royalties to the DVDFLLC (DVD Format/Logo Licensing Corporation) for use of the DVD logos on their players and packaging. Software vendors such as Microsoft then have to pay another lot of royalties to the DVDFLLC for the use of the CSS decryption and MPEG decoding algorithms in their software. Some might call that double-dipping, but that's what happens.

        I can understand Microsoft wanting to reduce their costs, but I doubt this will actually save consumers any

    • by _avs_007 ( 459738 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:29PM (#39891665)
      I don't think it's that they are trying to nickel and dime you. I think they were trying to reduce cost of the base OS, by not including the licensing fees for MPEG2.
      • by surmak ( 1238244 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:35PM (#39891773)

        I don't think it's that they are trying to nickel and dime you. I think they were trying to reduce cost of the base OS, by not including the licensing fees for MPEG2.

        If so, that may be a good thing if it exposes end users to the patent craziness that is screwing up the industry. As the best way to get rid of a bad law is to strictly enforce it, unbundling the MPEG licenses will annoy end users.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:43PM (#39891917)

        Sadly, I'm pretty sure they reduct the cost but not the price. So why exactly should I rejoice? I don't own MS stock.

      • "I don't think it's that they are trying to nickel and dime you."

        Of course not. It's M$. They are trying to Ten and Twenty you.

    • OTOH I wouldnt mind selecting and paying only for features that I use
      Think of it this way: A Windows 8 DVD shipped at a nominal cost or freely/low cost downloadable
      Contains only the bare minimal OS
      You can then pay for the stuff you want
      Want Metro, pay for it
      Want the games (Minesweeper,etc)? pay for them,etc..
      During installation you just select the stuff you want and pay via a credit card accordingly
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:30PM (#39891697)

      The licensing required to play DVDs or Bluray ain't free, and MS has to cover that cost per license of Windows. Including it, especially when a lot of devices lack optical drives anymore, is just a waste of money. I would expect any device sold that includes a DVD drive or Bluray drive to also include the necessary decoders to allow DVD/Bluray playback.

      Note, this isn't new. Windows XP couldn't play DVDs out of the box either unless you bought a third-party decoder. Windows Vista/7 couldn't play DVDs unless you had an edition that included Media Center, such as Home Premium or Ultimate. The original XBox wouldn't play DVDs unless you bought a remote control which covered the cost of the license.

    • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:31PM (#39891711)

      Now I've got to pay for every damned little thing in the OS too.

      Allow me to introduce you to some operating systems that do not have such a "feature:"


      ...and there are many more. It is not as though there are no alternatives to Windows.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:32PM (#39891719) Journal

      Just download VLC already.

      • Just download VLC already.

        I recently build an HTPC with a Zotac barebone with an NVIDIA ION GPU. The first player I went to was VLC, but I found that it cannot do GPU accelerated HD video. VLC has a checkbox for it in preference, but it doesn't play a 1080p H.264+flac mkv file I have and on a 720p file, CPU usage was high. After much experimenting, I find that smplayer/mplayer and Media Player Classic - Home Cinema will do GPU acceleration right out of the box. Both are free.

        Side note. During my experiment, I got so frustrated wit

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:36PM (#39891797) Journal
      While Microsoft is certainly happy to nickle-and-dime for things over which they have control(Oh, you want us to flip the bit that allows you to bind to AD? $90 please.) DVD playback is arguably in a different category.

      Thanks to the wonders of the DMCA, and possibly a raft of not-yet-expired MPEG-LA patents, it still costs money to legally ship a DVD decoder in the US, despite the fact that implementations of deCSS and MPEG2 are seriously old news.

      Especially for the driveless consumer machines and the business masses, forking over a per-copy fee to the DVD cartel just doesn't make any sense for either MS or their customers...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      No, you won't have to pay for "every damned little thing in the OS". Windows 8 is targeted at tablets and PCs without optical drives, which are increasingly common because movies are in digital download formats today, so it makes sense to not have to include that functionality in the shipping OS. You're not going to be paying for every little feature, and there won't be a window popping up telling you that you need to pay for expansion packs--you're falling for the baiting headline hook, line, and sinker.


    • by Benfea ( 1365845 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @01:04PM (#39892249)

      ...but in this instance, they're making the right decision.

      Long ago, Microsoft would drive entire markets out of business with a particular tactic. Every time some innovative software developer produced something new and useful enough to create a whole new market (or sub-market or whatever you want to call it), Microsoft would barge in, create a similar product, and offer it for free with their operating system.

      Countless innovative software companies were driven out of business this way. Whole markets dried up and blew away. I and many others lambasted Microsoft for stifling innovation in the software market by doing this, and I still think those complaints against Microsoft were valid. So now people are whining at Microsoft for doing precisely the opposite? Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

      So you'll have to take the extra step of installing a free piece of software to perform the same function, a function that is becoming increasingly irrelevant in this new world of digital streaming. You'll survive.

      I find it highly ironic that you are whining about not getting something for free given the rightist drivel in your sig.

  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) * on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:22PM (#39891543)

    The headline is trying to incite a backlash, but this is a reflection of the decline of optical drives and the rise of tablets. Apple has also gone down this path by not including optical drives in the MacBook Air. I don't find myself that concerned since it's literally been years since I watched a DVD, and all my movies are digital.

    Presumably, the expense that was previously included in the cost of Windows will not be in Windows 8. I say "presumably" because I'm sure Windows 8 will still inexplicably cost over $100 or whatever.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:26PM (#39891609) Homepage Journal

      it would still be nice to view dvd .iso's ;)

      ah well just download vlc. media player is a piece of shit anyways.. and the marginal costs are the license costs.

      • Do any of the officially-blessed-by-the-powers-that-be DVD player programs do input from ISOs? I know that every version of 'PowerDVD' that I've had the displeasure of working with doesn't, nor does WMP, even with a suitable directshow filter for DVD playback. It was my vague impression that the party line was that DVD images don't exist and certainly can't be played back like a good, honest, scratchable, optical-drive-requiring, terrible-access-speed DVD...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swx2 ( 2632091 )
      Yeah this is really true. I was just thinking about when was the last time I actually watched a DVD movie on my computer... and realized... i don't remember. Netflix/youtube/torrented stuff has basically replaced DVDs for all intents and purposes. While initially this move by MS sounded a little annoying, it's actually pretty reasonable.
  • by Ndkchk ( 893797 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:24PM (#39891571)
    I'm sure that Microsoft will be generous and actually pass on these savings to the consumer, right? I mean, they wouldn't just cut out a feature to save some money and then keep that money for themselves, would they?
    • Anti trust (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Now they can;t be sued but Dvd software companies for antitrust because they give are away there dvd software for free. The courts kept telling microsoft not to bundle apps with there operation systems... so now they are finaly listening.

  • Three Letters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:24PM (#39891579)


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      2 letters: No.

      VLC is a shadow of a once good product.
      Media Player Classic for a not-butchered, not awful interface experience.

      • Re:Three Letters (Score:4, Informative)

        by lister king of smeg ( 2481612 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @01:43PM (#39892823)

        how is it a shadow of a good product? it still plays everything. on any system or os i want. it is still portable. it is still small and it is still portable. what has changed? is it the experimental free bluray support? the interface looks the same as always to me. it is still skinable right? it still has a customisable interface right? so what is wrong with it? (other than lack of android support)

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      VLC is the only reliable method to play video on any computer I use. No matter what,I download VLC. It will play almost any file, expect for the crappy Apple iTunes files, which is why I only have a limited collection of those.

      Clearly Media Center has to do more than play DVDs, but the playing of DVDs is the hook to get people to buy the upgrade. This is nothing new. MS has always had an unreasonable number of SKUs. It allows them to give away the basic MS Windows to OEMs so the base PC remains cheap,

  • VLC (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Are they going to ban VLC and other 3rd party players?
    If not, I'm happy not to have to pay for those licences as a part of my Windows licence
  • by who_stole_my_kidneys ( 1956012 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:26PM (#39891607)
    Vendors will supply their own software to play them with the added crap that comes with windows. System Builders will use readily available codec , and tablets without DVD drives wont need it any way. XP did not come with a way to play DVD's unless you purchased software so this is not much of a change.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:44PM (#39891931) Journal
      The one thing that was an issue, with XP's omission of DVD playback, was that so many of the 3rd party solutions shipped by OEMs were Absolutely. Fucking. Dire.

      Dell, for one, had the unfortunate tendency to ship 'PowerDVD', which was abhorrently broken in virtually every way and(despite theoretically providing a supported DVD decoder for WMP) frequently managed to munge the system to the point where neither its own interface nor WMP's could handle DVD playback.

      It would have been very polite of them to offer a separately licensed 'unobtrusive bundle of the directshow components you need to play DVDs', so that a little less shitware would have been shipped...
  • Why not just download the VLC player? It's already much better than almost any alternative; I don't see why anyone would pay for Microsoft's crappy media center.

  • Now I know that DVD is an as-good-as obsolete format (my computers do without optical drive for the better part of the last decade), but simply dropping DVD play-back support from your mainstream distribution that sounds a little premature to me!

  • It's a Feature!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:27PM (#39891637) Homepage Journal


    If anyone said back in the mid 90's that Microsoft would ceed the cell phone market to Android and Apple, hemorage market share on the desktop and lose browser dominance they would be labeled a lunatic. Or Steve Ballmer.

    • LMFAO!!!

      If anyone said back in the mid 90's that Microsoft would ceed the cell phone market to Android and Apple, hemorage market share on the desktop and lose browser dominance they would be labeled a lunatic. Or Steve Ballmer.

      If they could say that Microsoft would cede the market to Android, I would brand them a prescient prophet, not a lunatic, since neither Android nor Google even existed then.

  • CCCP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Deathnerd ( 1734374 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:27PM (#39891641)
    If I have to upgrade to Windows 8 (which I don't plan on doing), then I'll just wait until there's a suitable version of the Combined Community Codec Pack [] for Win8. Really, paying for media playback is just lame.
  • by Haxagon ( 2454432 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:28PM (#39891647)

    The OS won't play DVDs in Media Center-- because it's not included. MS said that they were confident that the PC DVD-playing software market was sufficiently full.
    Windows 8 will still play DVDs with third-party-software. There's no reason to have such an inflammatory article.

  • "We wanted to include Media Player for everyone without everyone incurring the cost even if they don't even have an optical drive."

    Yes, those people in Ethernopia upgrading to Windows 8 will certainly appreciate those "single-digit" dollar savings.
    Meanwhile, the rest of the [non-apple non-linux must-use-for-my-office] lemmings will be screaming their heads off in frustration.

    New Coke. All over again.

    Microsoft... you shoot yourself in the foot more times than the rest of us want to. Thank you.

    "So these tw

  • XBMC FTW (Score:5, Informative)

    by dmacleod808 ( 729707 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:30PM (#39891699)
    On top of all the VLC comments above... if you want a *Free* media center alternative... XBMC is the way to go.
    • - Formerly known as XBOX MEDIA CENTER which was my favorite console of all time specifically because of this software package.
  • All the movies I've watched on my PCs/iPhone/Amazon Fire have either been via Netflix or video files of ripped disks I already own. And when I did (occasionally) watch DVDs on my PCs I did it via VLC.

    All of the content we've watched off of a DVD were played using our home theatre system; I can't imagine there's too much penetration of media PCs.

  • bundling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigdavex ( 155746 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:32PM (#39891731)

    If Microsoft bundles software, that's bad.
    If Microsoft doesn't bundle software, that bad.

    Is everything Microsoft does wrong by definition?

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      For years Slashdot complained about the Microsoft tax, that you couldn't get a PC without paying for Windows. When you buy Windows you pay a MPEG-LA tax, you can't get it without paying for codecs but now if they give you the choice not to pay that's wrong too. No, Microsoft can't win.

  • by ivi ( 126837 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:34PM (#39891759)

    Perhaps this will boost interest in desktop Linux?

    But can VLC do what M$ wants $$ to enable? IF so, M$ might as well give DVD playing away free.

  • by InvisibleClergy ( 1430277 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:35PM (#39891767)

    I know that in general, Windows comes subsidized on computers, and you can bet your ass that manufacturers aren't going to put non-media-enabled versions on there. If the DVD drive doesn't work right, the people who sold the computer are going to get the flak, not the guys who made the mysterious "Operating-System".

    The people who will pay for this are the companies who do volume licensing, as usual.

  • by westyvw ( 653833 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:37PM (#39891817)

    I really dislike Microsoft, I have no need for windows anything, but I dislike MPEGLA even more. As far as I am concerned, its good news that they will no longer be recieving license fees automatically from Microsoft.

  • by LihTox ( 754597 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:40PM (#39891885)

    I get what they're doing and it makes sense, but you're going to end up with a lot of angry consumers who don't understand why their DVD drive doesn't work; or maybe they don't have one built into their computer but plug one in, and a dialog box says "Please deposit $5".

    If anything, they should make the DVD version the standard, and let savvy folks downgrade and save the cost if they want.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @12:51PM (#39892045)

    Or in other words, frack Windows Media Center...

    Old joke. An interviewer asks a potential new programmer a question, "If you could be any piece of software, which would you be?"
    "Windows Media Player, " the interviewee responds, "I like to be left alone."

  • by gslj ( 214011 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @03:07PM (#39894105)

    For a long time, people could bash Linux, with reason, as an operating system that couldn't even play a DVD out of the box. Pathetic. So what choices did the user have? Either download and install something that would play it illegally, as most did, or pay separately for licensed codecs. Now that Windows users face exactly the same choice, they will feel a certain deflation, a little at a loss, when they argue for the natural superiority of their operating system. It's an uncomfortable feeling, but ultimately healthy.


The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin