As a part of its grand plan to make all content digital and get rid of physical media completely, Microsoft Corp. will omit support of DVD video playback on personal computers with Windows 8 operating system. End-users will have to acquire additional features for Windows Media Center to watch DVDs on their PCs and to stop dreaming of Blu-ray disc playback directly from Windows.
In the process of building Windows 8, Microsoft has evaluated which in-box media playback experiences it wanted to provide. The software giant noted that the media landscape has changed quite significantly since the release of Windows 7. The vast majority of video consumption on the PC and mobile devices is coming from online sources such as YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, or any of the other myriad of online and downloadable video services available. Meanwhile, DVDs, BDs and broadcast video are losing steam, according to Microsoft. As a result, in a bid to lower licensing fees required to enable appropriate playback, Microsoft decided to cut support for DVD and broadcast TV from Windows 8.
"Our partners have shared clear concerns over the costs associated with codec licensing for traditional media playback, especially as Windows 8 enables an unprecedented variety of form factors. Windows has addressed these concerns in the past by limiting availability of these experiences to specialized “media” or “premium” editions. At the same time, we also heard clear feedback from customers and partners that led to our much simplified Windows 8 editions lineup," explained Bernardo Caldas and Linda Averett from Microsoft in a special blog post.
Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, Microsoft has decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel. Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support. For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, Microsoft offers two options:
- Rely on third-party solutions, such as Cyberlink PowerDVD or Corel WinDVD, that playback both Blu-ray and DVD.
- Upgrade Windows 8 Pro with Windows Media Center Pack or upgrade Windows 8 with Windows 8 Pro Pack, which will enable DVD playback (in Media Center), broadcast TV recording and playback (DBV-T/S, ISDB-S/T, DMBH, and ATSC), and VOB file playback.
By eliminating DVD and broadcast TV playback from PCs, Microsoft solves a number of issues: it makes operating system more affordable (theoretically) and it encourages end-users to start using digital media services instead of physical services. Given the fact that Microsoft is actively improving media-related aspects of Xbox Live and adding new TV-channels into its portfolio, it is completely logical to get rid of TV and DVR capabilities of PCs.
It is necessary to note that when it comes to apps and digital download services, there will be no significant restrictions. Metro style apps can use any of the decoders included in Windows. These decoders are optimized for system reliability, battery life, and performance, and cover all key playback scenarios for mainstream content such as YouTube video, Netflix video, Amazon audio/video, H.264 web browsing/streaming, Hulu video, MP4 video, AVCHD video from camcorders, Ultraviolet video, and the HTML5 video tag. Metro style apps can also include additional decoders (such as FLAC, MKV, OGG, etc.) in their apps package for use within the apps.