Microsoft Details Windows 8 Media Center, Removes DVD Playback from Media Player

Written by John Ponio    Friday, 04 May 2012 14:23

Windows 8 Logo

If you didn't read it before, Windows Media Center won't be included in Windows 8, but will be available an upgrade (that you have to pay for, of course). The reason they're not including it is, it looks like, licensing fees for the different codecs that Microsoft would have to license are too expensive. Pricing for the upgrade will be "in line with marginal costs," meaning that you're basically paying for the codec licensing fees. In a recent blog post, Microsoft outlined how the upgrade process will work, what codecs will be available with what, and more. One of the most shocking things out of the blog post is that Microsoft will remove DVD playback from Windows Media Player (although players like VLC will work like normal), and to get DVD playback on your Windows 8 machine you'll either have to pay for Windows Media Center or use a third-party application.

For any metro-style apps, the only supported codecs that are built into Windows 8 will be:

  • Video:
    H.264, VC-1/WMV, and MP4 Pt. 2 in AVI, MPEG-2 TS, MP4, and ASF containers.
  • Audio:
    DD+ (non-disk), AAC, WMA, MP3, and PCM in M4A, ASF, MP3, and WAV containers
Basically, any popular video source, such as Hulu, Youtube, Netflix, Amazon audio/video, MP4 videos, AVCHD (camcorder) videos, HTML5 video, and more, will work out of the box. 

So how is one to get Windows Media Center, if for some reason you think you need it? It comes through an upgrade that you can purchase online and download, it looks like. If you have regular Windows 8, you'll need to purchase the "Windows 8 Pro Pack" that will upgrade your OS to Windows 8 Pro and install Windows Media Center. If you already have Windows 8 Pro, you'll need to purchase the "Windows 8 Media Center Pack" and install Windows Media Center from there. Windows Media Center will include DVD playback, but it won't enable DVD playback in Windows Media Player. I don't see anything mentioning Blu-ray playback, however, which might be a big turn-off to anyone considering buy the media center upgrade.

I understand Microsoft's wanting to save money on licensing fees, because we all know those can get quite expensive, but I fear this will be seen as an attempt to nickel-and-dime people out of their hard-earned money. That's what I thought it was at first, before reading this blog post. If you want to read it for yourself, you can do so here