Windows 8 DVD Support Cut; Microsoft Criticized

Dennis Faas's picture

Last week Microsoft shocked many observers by revealing that the standard version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system (OS) will not include DVD support.

In order to get that support, customers will have to upgrade to the more expensive version: Windows 8 Pro.

Since announcing this news, Microsoft has responded to widespread criticism of its decision.

At first, Microsoft claimed that the absence of DVD support was related to the emergence of ultrabooks and tablet computers. The software giant stated that the limitations of these hardware devices (they lack optical disc drives) would make it unfair for those users to pay the built-in licensing fees.

Codecs Costly, Says Microsoft

Microsoft says that for a computer to be able to play DVDs it must include the MPEG-2 codec and a number of Dolby audio codecs.

This adds to the users' costs: about $2 for each Windows license where MPEG-2 is employed. Those extra license fees must be paid, either by Microsoft, the PC manufacturer, or the consumer. (Source:

However, this was the same pricing structure back when Windows 7 was released, and it wasn't a problem for Microsoft at that time. Both the Starter and Home Basic versions of the Windows 7 OS included DVD support.

"That means royalties related to DVD playback in Windows 7 have been paid broadly, regardless of whether or not the PC has an optical drive," explained Microsoft Windows President, Steven Sinofsky.

"Based on sales and usage, we supplied codecs to a very large number of PCs that were not capable of playing DVDs or simply did not ever play DVDs." (Source:

In effect, it seems to some observers that Microsoft is no longer willing to pay those extra licensing fees.

DVD Users Must Purchase More Expensive Windows 8 Pro

Microsoft's decision to cut DVD support from the standard version of Windows 8 means owners of laptops and desktops with disc drives will have to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro if they want to use those devices.

Right now it remains unclear how much more expensive Windows 8 Pro will be than the standard version of the OS.

Looking back to Windows 7, the difference between the Ultimate and Home Premium versions was about $100, and it's possible this will be the price differential between standard Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. (Source:

Of course, as criticisms of this change in policy continue to mount, the more important question is how costly this decision will turn out to be for Microsoft.

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