Stop those discs spinning – Windows 8 won’t play DVDs or Blu-rays. Well, it will if you buy an upgrade. According to Microsoft, DVD use on computers is in ‘sharp decline’ – but is that a good enough reason to strip support?
Hold your horses! If your Windows 8 PC comes with a DVD drive, you’ll still be able to install software from DVDs, or even play disc-based games. Microsoft’s lacking support is purely to do with watching films.
Unlike its predecessor, Windows 8 will not come with a Media Center. If you want this, you’ll have to pay extra. Windows Media Player will come as standard, but DVD and Blu-ray playback will be absent.
Why? Microsoft points to low DVD and Blu-ray use on computers. And Microsoft has a point – apparently only 6% of Windows 7 users ever used Media Center.
Living without a DVD drive
I personally can’t remember the last time I popped a DVD into either my laptop or my desktop PC. Ultrabooks and tablets, which Windows 8 will run on, don’t even have DVD drives built in.
Apple’s latest Mac Mini launched without a DVD drive too; a decision that got a mixed response from Which? Convo commenters. Tom didn’t see it as a problem:
‘I use my iMac daily and I’ve not used its DVD for over six months and even then it was only to play Call of Duty 4.’
But Phil couldn’t live without it:
‘I regularly watch DVDs on my MacBook so a laptop without a DVD would be pretty useless.’
And in our poll, three quarters of you said you wouldn’t buy a PC without a DVD drive. So why can’t Microsoft just support DVD playback? Ultimately, it all comes down to money – Microsoft says it has to pay a ‘significant amount in royalties’ for the codecs needed to play DVD movies.
Computer says no
In the end, if hardly anyone plays DVDs on their computers, and it costs Microsoft money to support it, why should Windows 8 play DVDs?
Here’s why: if a computer comes with a DVD drive, the average person is going to expect it to… play DVDs. Just imagine the confusion when you put your DVD of The Avengers into your laptop and you get the message ‘computer says no’?
Now, I’ve installed VLC (I’ve always found it more consistent than Windows at playing all manner of video files anyway) but not everyone’s a geek like me. I can already see someone taking their PC back to Comet complaining that ‘it won’t play DVDs’.
I expect computer manufacturers will now be forced to make sure their PCs come with DVD software. And that means more pre-installed bloatware. Microsoft might have erased its own problems, but it’s opened up a whole can of worms for the rest of us.
Is Microsoft right to drop DVD playback from Windows 8?
No - some people rely on it (85%, 1,119 Votes)
Yes - there are other alternatives (8%, 106 Votes)
I don't mind (7%, 92 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,318