Mac|Life is reporting that Windows 8’s default install will not include the ability to play back commercial DVDs without a paid upgrade:
The reasoning behind the move is merely dollars and cents — as in, the “significant amount in royalties” that Microsoft is required to pay to include optical media playback support. Instead, Windows 8 will focus more heavily on online media, with support for H.264, VC-1, MP4, AAC, WMA, MP3, PCM and Dolby Digital Plus codecs.
Sure, the primary use of Dolby Digital these days is for playing back AC3-encoded audio from video DVDs, but apparently nobody told the folks in Redmond. Media Center itself will be available only as an additional purchase after installing Windows 8, available from the new “Add Features to Windows 8” control panel — although the company isn’t saying how much that will set you back just yet.
This might have been a big deal in 2005. Personally I don’t have a single DVD player hooked up at home, and my collection of discs that I care about have been ripped with Handbrake and packed away. But what’s more important is that Microsoft is shifting the burden of paying royalties to the consumer, because I seriously doubt this will mean a reduction in the price of Windows 8.