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How to Play DVDs in Windows 8

The Windows 8 Windows Media Player can’t play DVDs. That news comes as a bit of a shock, considering the Windows 7 Media Player could play DVDs. What gives?

According to Microsoft, DVDs are old-school technology that’s no longer needed. Today’s ultrathin laptops and tablets don’t even have DVD drives. Most people watch movies by streaming them to their computers over the Internet, Microsoft says. Or, they watch their DVDs on TV.

Also, Microsoft no longer wanted to pay licensing fees to the companies owning the patents to the MPEG-2 decoder and Dolby Digital audio support required for playing back DVDs.

But although Windows Media Player can no longer play DVDs, Windows 8 can still play DVDs with any of these solutions:

  • Pay extra to buy either the Windows 8 Media Center Pack or the Windows 8 Pro Pack. Those packages add Windows Media Center to your computer. A separate program, Windows Media Center can play DVDs, as well as view and record television shows on computers with a TV tuner.

  • Use the third-party DVD players provided by your computer manufacturer. Most computer makers will toss in a free trial version of a DVD player. If you like it, you can pay to upgrade to the full version.

  • Download the free VLC media player. Created by a nonprofit company based in France, it’s not under United States jurisdiction.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

Did this glimpse into how to play DVDs in Windows 8 leave you longing for more information and insight about Microsoft's personal computing operating system? You're free to test drive any of the For Dummies eLearning courses. Pick your course (you may be interested in more from Windows 8), fill out a quick registration, and then give eLearning a spin with the Try It! button. You'll be right on course for more trusted know how: The full version's also available at Windows 8.

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