Windows Media Center in Windows 8

A bit more confusion with Windows 8. There will be no Windows Media Center in either edition (standard or Pro) without an “anytime upgrade” style upgrade. This also affects the playing of DVD’s, which has been removed from the core OS, requiring the use of a third party codec (VLC works excellent) or an upgrade to WMC. This is mainly due to the licensing costs for DVD playback and other codecs. Why pay for it in the core OS if you are never going to use it (easily never used on a DVD drive-less tablet).

For those of us that do use our PC’s to play DVD’s or as a HTPC, we’ll either fork over for a new WMC or an alternative (which there are plenty).

Confusion sets in when you look at how you get WMC on your Windows 8 machine. If you are running Windows 8 standard, you buy a Windows 8 Pro Pack, which upgrades you to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center. However, if you already own Windows 8 Pro, you need to buy the Windows 8 Media Center Pack to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center. Why they don’t include WMC in the stock Win8 Pro is beyond me. It should be the “Ultimate” style of Windows 8, as the Enterprise edition is completely separate (and not needing WMC, anyway).

At least it sounds like WMC will now feature Blu-ray playback without being forced to buy another third party program (WinDVD or others).

Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we’ve decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade). This ensures that customers who are interested in Media Center have a convenient way to get it. Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support. For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, we are going to rely on the many quality solutions on the market, which provide great experiences for both DVD and Blu-ray.