Windows 8 team are returning to the subject of Media Center and DVD movie support. After addressing both a few days ago, the internet backlash was (predictably) quick to finding out that Media Center would be available only as an upgrade to the Pro version of the OS, and that without it Windows wouldn't natively play DVDs. What many may not know however, and the new FAQ points out, is that this is not an entirely new thing -- Windows XP did not have support outside of specialized editions or add-ons, several versions of Vista did not play DVDs and on Windows 7 the Basic and Starter editions lacked the add-on. Of course, for most users this doesn't matter in the least since brand new PCs tend to ship with third party software to play DVDs (or Blu-ray movies where applicable, which no version of Windowshas or will natively support). Answering the question we had of what this means for users upgrading their own computers, they'll either need to see if they have existing third party software to play DVDs that is compatible with Windows 8, or acquire Media Center post-upgrade.
With the new trend of discless devices (tablets, netbooks, ultrabooks and all in between) Microsoft saves a few bucks on the licensing costs for unsupported technology, while it and OEMs only pay up on computers designed to play DVDs out of the box (Dolby and MPEG codecs for online video streaming are included in all versions). This same theory applies to Media Center, which despite some rumors will continue to support CableCARD and all other hardware supported by Windows 7, with its cost "essentially built into Pro Pack". How annoying this particular decision by Microsoft is and if it precludes fans of DVD playback and Media Center from upgrading to what is a "much consistent experience" will be clearer once pricing is revealed, but we'd suggest the team stay close to that blog post button.
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