3 Free Ways To Play DVDs and Blu-Ray in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 still can’t play DVD and Blu-ray movies out of the box. To get DVD playback from Microsoft, you’d have to buy the Windows 8 Pro Pack for $100 and the Media Center Pack for $10 — and that only gets you DVD playback, not even Blu-ray support! Luckily, there are great free programs you can use to play DVDs without paying Microsoft another $110.

Microsoft removed DVD and Blu-ray support because many new ultrabooks and tablets don’t have DVD drives, so they don’t want to pay DVD and Blu-ray license fees for every Windows license they ship. Microsoft also thinks streaming services like Netflix are the future — but that’s little comfort if you want to watch a DVD or Blu-ray movie on your Windows 8 PC.

VLC

The swiss army knife of media players, VLC plays DVDs and almost everything else out there. It’s completely free and open source. Just download the VLC player, install it, and pop in a DVD disc. Open the VLC application, click the Media menu, select Open Disc, and choose your DVD drive. When you put in a DVD, VLC will skip straight to the menu or the movie itself, skipping all those obnoxious  piracy warnings and long trailers.

VLC also supports unencrypted Blu-ray discs. Unfortunately, commercial Blu-ray movies will generally be encrypted. You can try using the third-party AACS dynamic library to make VLC play encrypted Blu-ray discs — if you’re looking for a Blu-ray player and don’t want to shell out any money, it’s worth a shot.

play dvd with vlc on windows 8.14   3 Free Ways To Play DVDs and Blu Ray in Windows 8.1

Manufacturer-Provided DVD and Blu-Ray Players

Windows doesn’t provide DVD or Blu-ray playback support, so computer manufacturers have to do the footwork. If you purchased a computer that came with a DVD or Blu-ray drive, your hardware manufacturer has already thought of this. You’ll probably find DVD and Blu-ray playback software preinstalled on your computer if it came with the appropriate drive. This software generally isn’t “free” for the manufacturer, but they’ve already paid a licensing fee so you can use it — it’s included in the cost of your computer.

CyberLink PowerDVD is popular among device manufacturers, and you’ll also occasionally see other programs like Corel WinDVD Pro. Don’t let the names fool you — both of these programs can also play Blu-ray movies.

You can generally find this software on your system by pressing the Windows key to access the Start screen, and then typing “DVD” without quotes. Windows will search for programs with DVD in their name. Use whatever came with your computer to play the disc. If you purchased your DVD or Blu-ray drive separately, you may find DVD or Blu-ray playback software on a software disc that came with your drive.

These officially licensed programs will work very well for Blu-ray discs, which unofficial programs struggle with.

cyberlink   3 Free Ways To Play DVDs and Blu Ray in Windows 8.1

PotPlayer

Daum PotPlayer is a free media player with a devoted following. It supports DVDs, but the most significant feature it offers is integrated support for Blu-ray movies. Reviews are mixed on how well this works — some people are happy with it, while other people experience problems. Some advanced features, such as 3D Blu-ray support, don’t work and require a commercial software solution.

This isn’t surprising — unlike officially licensed Blu-ray players, unofficial Blu-ray players like PotPlayer and VLC with the AACS library have to reverse engineer the encryption on Blu-ray discs. However, if you’re looking for a free Blu-ray player, PotPlayer is definitely worth a try.

play dvd and blu ray discs with daum potplayer on windows 8.1   3 Free Ways To Play DVDs and Blu Ray in Windows 8.1

DVDs are Easy, Blu-Rays are Hard

It’s easy to play back DVDs. VLC does it amazingly well — better even than many commercial DVD players, as it will skip all the “unskippable” warnings and trailers for you. There are many, many programs that will play DVDs well.

On the other hand, Blu-ray playback is much harder. If you’re looking for a free Blu-ray player, there’s no perfect option. Some software solutions may not be able to play certain discs, or they may not work at all on your computer. If you want to play back Blu-ray discs, you’re better off using software that came with your computer or drive. If you don’t have this software and the free software just isn’t cutting it, well — you may want to purchase a commercial Blu-ray playback solution like PowerDVD.

Do you prefer another DVD player, or do you know another free Blu-ray playback solution that works well? Leave a comment and share it!

Image Credit: khrawlings on Flickr

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11 Comments -

AriesWarlock

I like KMPlayer better than VLC. In KMP I can determine how many seconds forward or backward to go when fast forwarding or backtracking. VLC only gives me set amounts. Why? Can I set my own time interval?

likefunbutnot

Media Player Classic plus the K lite codec pack loads the MPEG codecs for dvds and I like the interface better than VLC. BDs are a pain in the butt to pay so I just rip and re-encoder them with Handbrake and AnyDVD.

Kevin

l have a 2008 Pavilion notebook that came W/ 64 bit Vista, When the HD failed, I purchased a new drive & upgraded 2 Win 7/ . 64 bit. Against Mfr Recomendations. When W / Vista, I could play Blu Ray Vids, I no longer can, even tho’ I still have the Same Internal drive. I’ve tried Several of the options Above, w/ ho success,

elijafire

You need to update your drivers. Go to the manufacturers website and search for download- drivers.

easonjoy01

VLC can play blu ray movie, i have used for several discs, but you need download and place the AACS and BD+ DRM libraries and keys in order to play Blu Ray on Windows 8.1. The guide from UFUSoft helps me. I appreciate the guy who wrote it. And for the latest blu ray disc movie, i use UFUSoft Blu ray Player, it works well. Hope it helps

http://www.ufusoft.com/blu-ray-player/

Best Regards
Smith

David Burkhart

I tried everything to get VLC to play my first and only Blu Ray disc (a Disney movie). I understood and applied the work-around for encrypted Blu Rays. But, one or both of the newer anti-piracy algorithms, either BD+ or Cinavia, is still preventing VLC from playing my movie. VLC persists with one remaining vague error that it simply can’t play the movie. I lean towards BD+ as the culprit since I read reports about how Cinavia allows processing of a corrupted stream (with muted audio and video overlayed with a warning).

I’ve resorted to skip any more efforts with free or cheap player software and invest in higher-end software. But, I’ll still have to invest a great deal of time researching my options for this too. This is turning into a very expensive first Blu Ray movie.

I’m against black market acquisitions. But, after the frustrating hoops I’ve been jumping through just to play a legal movie purchase, I can see an increasing lure of black market movies just to avoid the hassle.

Rover

Media player classics works fine for me on win 8.1 for dvd playback http://mpc-hc.org/

Mary

Tried VLC but couldn’t get audio to work after trying all possible settings. I just want to play a DVD of a TV show — nothing fancy!

Terry Charge

It is so nice the guy that introduce us some free methods to make up the missing function on Windows 8.1 – DVD and Blu-ray playback capability. But who have used VLC or other free tools might realized that sometimes they didn’t work on commercial Blu-ray Disc or the latest. So if you want a professional Blu-ray player and don’t wanna pay too much, I think Macgo Windows Blu-ray Player is a compromising choice. I like their pages for offering so many playing details http://www.macblurayplayer.com/windows-bluray-player.htm
Hope this helpful for you. Please pardon me if I say something inappropriate here.
Regards

hdcon22

You can try Acrok Video Converter Ultimate, which can works as free Blu-ray/DVD Player on Windows 8.1 and Mac OS, it supports Disc, ISO file, Folder files. It can also works as top Blu-ray Converter to convert movies to common videos like MP4, MKV, MOV, etc.
http://www.acrok.com/video-converter-ultimate
Please try it. It works perfect for me.

Force Gaia

I notice you forgot to mention the Combined Community Codec Pack and Media player Classic Home cinema

Or even XBMC