On the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft has outlined its plans for media playback with the new operating system. Media Center won’t be included with Windows 8, and instead will have to be purchased through a “Add Features to Windows 8” option through the Control Panel. While Windows Media Player will still come pre-installed, it won’t be able to play DVDs from the get-go thanks to the removal of the MPEG-2 codec from Windows.
Microsoft cite codec licensing costs, plus the declining sales of DVDs globally. On top of that, more and more Americans are turning to streaming media for their entertainment needs. All those factors combined means the company arrived at a decision to remove MPEG-2 from Windows 8: the majority of consumers won’t miss it, and it would save money.
That doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to play DVDs on Windows 8. You’ll still be able to buy MPEG-2 support via the Windows 8 Media Center Pack or Windows 8 Pro Pack. That will also give you terrestrial television recording and playback, plus VOB container support. As for other codecs, H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-4 Part 2 decoders will all come standard with Windows 8. Dolby Digital Plus support has also made the grade, but doesn’t support what you would find on HD DVDs or Blu-rays.
Even if you need MPEG-2 support and don’t want to cough up the dough for Microsoft’s packs, software players like Media Player Classic Home Cinema and VLC offer the same functionality for free. Still, it’s never nice when features are removed instead of added.
[via The Verge]