Freeware software DVD player?

Dennis Faas's picture

Today's visitor feedback is based on the fact that I received two similar emails from Readers on the same day.

Infopackets Reader Ric J. writes:

" Can you please tell me a good DVD Decoder program to download, because the two I've tried didn't work. I'd like to find one that does so I can watch DVD's on my system. Thanks! "

And, Felicitaz C. writes:

" I have WinDVD 3.1 DVD player and cannot play DVD's anymore. Nothing happens when I try to play a DVD. I tried Help -> Troubleshoot and WinDVD suggested that I install a decoder or upgrade. When I did a little more searching I found out my WinDVD 3.1 needed DiVX 6.0 installed. I remember that I had upgraded to Windows MediaPlayer 9 and that was when I also found DiVX was upgraded from 6.0 to 9. So, my question is this: should I downgrade my media player to 6.0 and see if my DVD player will work again? I have WindowsXP. "

My Response:

With respect to Felicitaz's dilemma --

I have personally used WinDVD in the past and know for a fact that it does not require any additional codecs to play a DVD (.VOB files). Furthermore, DivX is a video codec and uses an entirely different file format (.AVI) than a DVD does; in short, DivX isn't required to play DVDs with WinDVD.

I wasn't sure if Windows Media Player 9 supported DVD playback, so I did some digging on the Microsoft website and came up with a definitive answer:

" ... [Windows Media Player 9 gives you] flexible [and] new features [which] combine for easy control of your playback experience for more types of media than other players: streaming or downloaded music, Internet radio, audio CDs, HDCDs, DVDs, CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MMC, SD Media, and more. "

If WinDVD isn't playing your DVD videos any more, it may be because:

  • The file association for DVD playback has somehow changed and is no longer associated with WinDVD.
  • WinDVD is corrupt and needs to be reinstalled. Simply uninstall and reinstall it.
  • The DVD you're attempting to play is conflicting with your DVD Region Setting. In other words, certain DVDs will only play in certain countries.
  • There may be a hardware problem with your computer's DVD player.

Windows Media Player: a Resource Hog

I still use Media Player 6.4 on Windows XP because it doesn't require as much resource as versions 7, 8, and 9 do. As with most (all?) Microsoft products, upgrades require more processing power and RAM to operate. In other words: although Media Player 9 will play DVDs, chances are that older computer systems won't be able to play DVD video fluidly because there won't be enough processing power.

I should also mention that once Media Player 9 has been upgraded from a previous version, it cannot be downgraded or uninstalled (source:

Side note: You can still run version 6.4 by clicking in Start -> Run and type in "mplayer2" (no quotes). On my Windows XP system, Media Player 6.4 is located in C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player.

A Less-bloated alternative to Media Player: freeware software DVD players?

I went to Google and tried searching for "freeware software dvd player", but found it very difficult come up with anything concrete ... which is why I'd like to ask Infopackets Readers for help.

Do you know of a good freeware software DVD player that doesn't require a lot of processing power? Please email me your suggestion!

Update 2003/11/04: This topic has been updated. Click here to read!

Rate this article: 
No votes yet