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

Chris Hoffman 07-02-2014

Windows 8.1 still can’t play DVD and Blu-ray movies Why Won't Windows Play My DVD Or Blu-ray Disc? You insert a DVD into your Windows 8 computer – you want to watch a movie. Nothing happens. You try opening Windows Media Player. It can't play the disk. What's going on with Windows 8... Read More 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 8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How to Get Them Back Microsoft removed a variety of features from Windows 8. Many of them aren't great losses to most people, but they are if you depended on them. Luckily, Windows 8 isn't yet a locked-down mobile operating... Read More  because many new ultrabooks and tablets don’t have DVD drives, so they don’t want to pay DVD and Blu-ray Blu-Ray Technology History and The DVD [Technology Explained] Read More license fees for every Windows license they ship. Microsoft also thinks streaming services like Netflix 6 of the Best Streaming Media Services Compared Streaming media has become the way of the future for many consumers, and as a result there’s no shortage of services to pick from. Let’s compare five of the best streaming media services to see... Read More are the future — but that’s little comfort if you want to watch a DVD or Blu-ray movie on your Windows 8 PC.


The swiss army knife of media players 7 Top Secret Features of the Free VLC Media Player VLC should be your media player of choice. The cross-platform tool has a bag full of secret features you can use right now. Read More , 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.


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 PowerDVD



Daum PotPlayer is a free media player with a devoted following Does Your Media Player Suck? Try A Unique Alternative: Daum PotPlayer [Windows] Whenever we have written an article about great media players, people were quick to remind us of PotPlayer. Once we checked it out, we had to agree that it was indeed pretty awesome. So the... Read More . 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 Can My Laptop, Monitor, Or TV Do 3D? We're often asked "Can I watch 3D movies on my computer?" The short answer is: sadly, no. Read on to find out why you can't, and how you can make it reality. Read More , 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.


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

Related topics: Blu-ray, Media Player, VLC Media Player, Windows 8.

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  1. NinjaLan
    February 11, 2017 at 10:01 am

    If VLC doesn't work for some of your discs, try UFUSoft Blu-Ray Player. It's free for trail and has worked on every disc I've tried so far.

  2. Chester
    January 27, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    The Cyberlink program that came with my pc stopped working. NONE of the "free" players work on my Win 8.1, or if they do, all I get is a compressed video image on the screen that is only about 2 inches will NOT go full screen no matter what I do.

    And these "free" video player companies either don't have tech support, or they just don't give a damn, as I have yet to ever get any response from any of them.

  3. Ivan Richard
    November 22, 2016 at 4:55 am

    In order to watch Blu-ray discs or BD ISO on Windows 10/8.1/8/7, you must have three things: 1) a Blu-ray disc drive, 2) a Blu-ray movie, and 3) Blu-ray Player Software(Need decrypting Blu-ray function). I have used VLC and UFUSoft Blu-ray Player on Windows 10/8.1/8/7 to play blu ray disc movies. So far, with AACS-protected Blu-Ray discs, VLC works fine. for bd+ protected or others not supported blu-ray movies, i finally use UFUSoft Windows Blu-ray Player to play successfully.

  4. Sunderlandgreen
    September 3, 2016 at 9:54 am

    If you want to play Blu-ray or DVD disc without using the internal or external Blu-ray or DVD drive not only on Windows 8.1 but also on other portable devices such as smartphone, tablets, game consoles, etc. You can use Pavtube ByteCopy to rip Blu-ray/DVD to any of your unwanted file formats.

  5. Lancy Shadow
    December 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I was recommended by my friend to use this UFUWare Blu-ray player software, which works well on my windows 8.1 and upgraded windows 10, i always use it to play blu-ray on pc for sharing with my friends and family, yes, it works well. i like it.

  6. janehuang
    May 5, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I got a good way for activating…I got a code and download link for my pc for a long time. Only need to search the @@ Windows 8.1 key Sale @@ from bing. Then click the first link to get a website…It will provide what you need.. Hope it works for you too!

  7. d m reynolds
    February 6, 2015 at 1:37 am

    I'm glad I didnt bother having old family movies and photos put on cds. I dont think
    Im going to waste my time or money seeing if I can get it to work fo me. Im having second thoughts about my need for such an expensive computer at all.

  8. john
    January 29, 2015 at 1:33 am

    I followed the download process for VLC and after install tried to watch a dvd but a dialog box popped up tellin me it couldnt find the file and it wasnt necessary for me to download the program,wtf, Im using win 8.1 and its media player wont play dvd's

  9. Rip Taylor
    January 2, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    For blu ray playing in VLC player just rip the disc title in Make MKV then play through VLC. Takes roughly 30mins to rip just the movie from the disc, plus make mkv is free.

  10. Benjamin
    December 26, 2014 at 7:57 am

    this one Mac go Free Mac Media Player is free,too. I think playback dvd don't need to buy one. Free ware is ok. If you eager to high definition blu-ray player. Generally, you need pay for it.

  11. Unbelievable
    December 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you so much. I tried to play a work out DVD, and couldn't. I thought I was going crazy. Who can believe that I just bought an $800 laptop with a DVD/CD drive and I can't watch a DVD? I will try these options.

  12. Force Gaia
    June 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm

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

    Or even XBMC

  13. hdcon22
    June 7, 2014 at 1:03 am

    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.
    Please try it. It works perfect for me.

  14. Terry Charge
    April 28, 2014 at 6:56 am

    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
    Hope this helpful for you. Please pardon me if I say something inappropriate here.

  15. Mary
    April 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    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!

  16. Rover
    April 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Media player classics works fine for me on win 8.1 for dvd playback

    • rebecca
      March 12, 2016 at 4:45 am

      Thank you sooo soo much for your post. Best download I have tried in years without the inconvenience VLC has given me. I appreciate your input on this.

  17. David Burkhart
    March 22, 2014 at 1:55 am

    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.

  18. easonjoy01
    March 3, 2014 at 6:32 am

    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

    Best Regards

    • Jonathan
      February 9, 2017 at 7:36 am

      Doesn't work on all discs. I tried the workaround with the Rush R40 Blu-Ray.

  19. Kevin
    February 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    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
      July 2, 2014 at 5:07 pm

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

  20. likefunbutnot
    February 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    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.

  21. AriesWarlock
    February 7, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    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?