Having read up a little about Windows 8’s support of various media I was fairly confident that if I installed the Windows Media Center then I would be able to continue to play DVDs in Windows Media Player, as I did in Windows 7. I was wrong.
Having bought the upgrade early (back in October 2012) I was offered a free upgrade to Windows Media Centre — woop! — which saved me a whole £6.99. However, as I discovered, it only enables DVD playback in Windows Media Centre, not Windows Media Player.
On my old Windows XP machine I used Cyberlink PowerDVD, which costs between £30-£70 depending; I got it free, bundled with my graphics card, if I remember correctly. It was fairly easy to use, and the controls were pretty intuitive. When I moved to Windows 7 I discovered that this version of the software wasn’t compatible with that version of Windows and I was reluctant to pay for an upgrade and so I started to use Windows Media Player, which had a really terrible, confusing interface but was free.
And so once again another Windows upgrade requires me to find another application that will enable me to watch DVDs on my PC. A quick Google search suggested that I try VLC media player.
VLC media player ticked both boxes: it’s free and it’s really easy to use. The interface is incredibly clear, much simpler than Windows Media Player 10 and 11, and it’s incredibly fast.
I also really like that the software is created by the VideoLAN organisation, “a project and a non-profit organization, composed of volunteers, developing and promoting free, open-source multimedia solutions.”
I definitely recommend VLC media player, if you are looking for a free, user-friendly replacement for Windows Media Player on Windows 8 (or, indeed, any version of Windows from XP SP2 onwards).