Windows 8: How to Watch a DVD

Dennis Faas's picture

Here's another probing question from an reader:

"Dear Infopackets Team,

Have I missed one of your informative reports? I don't seem to know how to play DVDs in Windows 8?

Actually, I can't even find Windows Media Center anywhere, and without it I'm stuck!

I like Windows 8 so far, but I'm going to feel very frustrated if it won't let me play DVDs on my laptop.

Thanks for your help,

Frank G."

My response:

Frank, you're right: Windows Media Center is entirely missing from the new Windows 8 operating system. Fortunately, you can still find a way to play DVDs.

Microsoft chose to remove Windows Media Center from Windows 8 to save costs. The company says it then passed these savings on to the consumer.

Even so, the good news is that if you have Windows 8 Pro installed on your computer, you can still access Windows Media Center and play all the DVDs you want.

The bad news: users of the standard version of Windows 8 will have to pay $69.99 for the Windows 8 Pro Pack, which includes Windows Media Center.

Ten Buck Charge -- But Free Offer Available

If you are running Windows 8 Pro, you'll be asked to pay $9.99 to access Windows Media Center.

Luckily, you can get Windows Media Center free of charge until January 31, 2013.

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, browse to and type in your email address. Microsoft will then send a product key to your chosen email address.

Next, from the main desktop screen hold down the Windows key (next to CTRL on the bottom left of most keyboards) and press W. This will open a command prompt.

Next, type the words 'add windows' (no quotations). This will bring up a list of options.

Choose the option marked "Add features to Windows 8," and then select Windows Media Center.

Click "I already have a product key," enter that key, and agree to the formal licensing terms.

Alternatives to Windows Media Center

Of course, you don't have to use Microsoft's Windows Media Center to play DVDs within Windows 8. In fact, several other applications allow you to play DVDs in Windows 8.

Arguably, the best alternative to Windows Media Center is VLC, produced by VideoLAN. Available at, it's free to use.

Note that most DVD playback applications aren't available in the Windows 8 App Store. To access third-party DVD playback applications, you'll need to visit each developer's main website.

You'll also have to start Windows 8 running in the traditional desktop mode (press the Windows key to switch), so you can download and install non-App Store software.

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