Why Won’t Windows Play My DVD Or Blu-ray Disc?

Justin Pot 04-05-2013

windows wont play dvdYou 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 and DVDs? And for that matter, Blu-ray Blu-Ray Technology History and The DVD [Technology Explained] Read More discs?

You’re not the first person to ask this, and you won’t be the last. The answer, basically, is that Windows 8 cannot play DVDs or Blu-Ray disks out of the box.

Why? Because the software technology for playing these disks isn’t free — Microsoft previously paid $2 for every copy of Windows sold, just for the right to use the patented technology needed to play DVDs . Considering the ever-increasing number of devices without optical drives, Microsoft decided it wasn’t worth paying for features many people can’t even use.

So what is a movie-loving Windows 8 user to do? There are basically two options: finding third party software that can play your disks, or paying Microsoft for the privilege. Let’s go over both possibilities.


Option A: Install A Different Media Player

Windows 8 can’t play DVDs out of the box, but that doesn’t mean third party programs can’t. We’ve written a lot about VLC 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 , and this program can easily play any DVD (and unencrypted Blu-Ray disks – there’s experimental support for encrypted Blu-Rays in the works, but that’s an issue for another article entirely).

VLC can be a little hard to use, but not for playing DVDs: just click “File” followed by “Open Disc”.

windows wont play dvd

In most cases the menu will show up, allowing you to play your DVD however you like.


Want more of a lean-back experience? I highly recommend XBMC – so much so that I even wrote an unofficial XBMC manual How to Set Up Your XBMC Media Center XBMC may have evolved into Kodi, but if you have an old version installed this guide will help you set it up and get started. Read More . The program is designed to make browsing media on your computer easy, but also supports DVDs out of the box. It takes some setting up, but you’ll end up liking it – and the DVD playback is basically automatic.

windows wont play blu ray

Both of these options are fantastic for DVDs, but somewhat lacking for Blu-Ray. The format, created by Sony, is a tough nut for free software to crack – it’s heavily encrypted, so you may need something commercial for the job. You’ll need to pay for software, such as WinDVD Pro.

Before you buy anything, though, know that most computers that come with a Blu-Ray drive include some sort of Blu-Ray software. Check your computer for software if it’s new, or check your collection of disks if you upgraded to Windows 8. You’ll probably find something that can play Blu-Ray discs.


Option B: Give Microsoft Your Money

Couldn’t get the above solutions to work? Well, you can also pay Microsoft. It’s not as though Redmond simply stopped offering DVD and Blu-Ray support – they just started charging for it, along with their Media Center software.

Microsoft briefly offered this software free of charge, but that period is over. How much does it cost now? That depends on which version of Windows 8 you currently have: Windows 8 Pro users need to pay considerably less. Here’s what you can expect to pay:

  • $99.99 if you’re just using Windows 8 (ie, not Windows 8 Pro) – you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro Pack, which comes with Media Center and a bunch of other, unrelated features. Microsoft itself advises people to purchase third-party DVD software instead of doing this.

windows wont play dvd

  • $9.99 if you’re already using Windows 8 Pro – you’ll only need to download the Media Center Pack.

Upgrading is simple: just open the Control Panel, then click “Add Features to Windows 8”. You’ll be shown the upgrade available, depending on which version of Windows 8 you’re using.


Enterprise users: you cannot download the Media Center Pack. Stick with the free and/or commercial options outlined above.


Is it annoying that Microsoft stopped supporting DVDs by default? Yes. Is it understandable? Considering they were paying for patents customers may or may not even be using, probably. As a long-time Ubuntu user I grew accustomed to these shortcomings, but it’s a new problem for Windows users – and an especially frustrating one for people who paid for an upgrade only to lose features.

What software are you using to play DVDs and Blu-Ray discs on your computer? Fill us all in using the comments below, or just complain bitterly about the change. Whatever you prefer.

Explore more about: Blu-ray, CD-DVD Tool, Media Player, VLC Media Player, Windows 8, XBMC Kodi.

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  1. Crysytal
    August 5, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    All these answers are for Windows 8. I have Windows 10 ? The answers I have looked at are all over 4 to 5 years ago that doesn't seem to help me. I might have missed the answer but how do I get VLC on my laptop

  2. Jewels
    August 4, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Ya know! I really try using Microsoft but it always lets me down! Never had ANY issues with MACs, my husbands insisted the a PC was he's only way to go so I bought him this useless $700 laptop and can't even watch a movie, Windows 8 is not even user friendly, jumps around nothing you click on works and needs upgrades constantly and connecting to the Internet Forget it!! Spam and ads BLAH!
    MAC all the way!

  3. Amy
    July 12, 2016 at 2:47 am

    I have Windows 10 and this hasn't been a problem for me until tonight...Is my DVD drive trashed?

  4. Anonymous
    November 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm


    • Anonymous
      November 5, 2015 at 2:34 pm


      • Justin Pot
        November 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm

        Whoa, slow down with the caps! Anyway: if you'd like to play DVDs on your laptop, it's easiest to just get VLC. It's free, open source and altogether wonderful – like so many things on the Internet.

        • Anonymous
          November 5, 2015 at 3:19 pm


  5. SJ Lauder
    May 18, 2015 at 6:01 am

    WOOO you're perfect and beautiful!!

    • Justin Pot
      May 18, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      Ummm....thanks? I guess?

  6. pak wong
    October 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    totally disgusting that as a senior citizen I have purchased a new Toshiba with windows 8 and cannot play any video even though the pc has a video box to click on; salesman never mentioned this flaw, made it seem as if windows 8 was so advanced over previous windows.

    • Justin P
      October 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      It's disgusting for younger people too!

  7. Monique
    August 12, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Thank you!

  8. chancy
    August 4, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    You can use VLC to play Blu-Ray on Windows 8, but you will need to download and place the AACS and BD+ DRM libraries and keys in order to play Blu Ray on Windows 8.

    UFUSoft gives a step-by-step guide on how to Play Blu-Ray with VLC in Windows 8 64-bit/32-bit that may help you to play Blu-Ray for free here:

    [Broken URL Removed]

  9. Javed
    July 9, 2013 at 5:01 am

    Cyberlink PowerDVD 12 Ultra :D

  10. Monique G
    July 8, 2013 at 9:02 am

    you are amazing and your suggestion is great/.

  11. Meilin D
    July 5, 2013 at 2:19 am

    It seems that you cannot play Blu-ray disc with only installing VLC media player...

    • Justin Pot
      July 5, 2013 at 6:47 am

      Yeah, I mention that above: any encrypted BluRay won't play without a lot of tweaking. And the vast majority of BluRay disks are encrypted.

  12. Jessica
    June 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    What drives me MOST crazy about this is that when you put the DVD in the drive, NOTHING HAPPENS. I just sat there, staring at the screen, waiting for SOMETHING, anything to happen. With any computer, there should always be some feedback after you've done something, including some sort of pop-up when you place a disc in the the drive (even if it's just to tell you that the computer won't play the disc). How freaking simple is that to do? Very, very frustrating.

    • Justin Pot
      June 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      While I get your point, I find it annoying when something /does/ happen after I insert a DVD. Reasonable people can disagree on this point...

  13. Ace
    May 11, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Windows Media Center DOES NOT play Blu-rays. I was told by this directly by Microsoft. They said it was an error, and that they still haven't removed that information (as of a week ago) from their site. I have tried everything and absolutely NOTHING will play a Blu-ray on my Windows 8 PC. I've given up and decided I put a Blu-Ray player in my custom PC for nothing.

    • Justin Pot
      May 15, 2013 at 2:49 am

      It's awful that they haven't removed that information from their site...

  14. Stephanie Staker
    May 10, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Thanks, Justin, for the heads up. I am still using Windows 7 Home Premium and will until I am FORCED to upgrade. I came kicking and screaming to Windows 7 from XP. :) I do like this operating system so I feel if it isn't broke, don't fix it (or change it). However, I want to put my added 2 cents in here for VLC. It seems to want to play anything (in Win 7 anyway) with zero problems. I am glad to see the program getting its due here.

  15. Edward Goldblatt
    May 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    VLC, AlShow, WinAmp, or (if memory serves) Media Player Classic all work very well. Then again, I have no intent of moving up beyond 7 anytime soon. I'm on XP for most of what I need - and my office doesn't need me anywhere beyond that - though certainly 7 is a reasonable upgrade.

  16. Suvo
    May 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

    It does not matter, as long as my favourite player is VLC & GOM Player.

  17. druv vb
    May 8, 2013 at 5:36 am

    I usually rip my DVD movies with HandBrake to MKV files. Copy all the movies to an external hard drive, hooked to an HD Media Player on my TV set. This way I can watch any movie I want, how many times I want without scratching those DVDs. And in any case, I tend to watch all movies or videos on my TV. Computers are left for work and play. Blu-Ray discs are out of price including dedicated Blu-Ray drivers for computers.
    And yeah, Microsoft will always want our money, one way or another.

  18. Patrick Saunders
    May 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Plus you can download Unified Remote onto your Android and control VLC (and a few other functions) via WiFi from the comfort of your bed.

  19. Godel
    May 7, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Even VLC needs a small amount of extra help to play Blu-ray disks.

    Here's a set of instructions:

  20. John Will
    May 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    I know where Microsoft are coming from, optical drives are becoming less usefull but I would have expected it to be able to play DVDs out of the box, especially when you are paying at least £100 or how much it costs where you are for it. I expect it with Ubuntu because, well its free. That's why I stick with Ubuntu because £100/£150(Win 7) vs £0.00 Hmmm. :)

  21. Ben Wilson
    May 6, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Used to use commercial software for encrypted BR's, MPC-HC for DVD's and as my main video player, and VLC as my backup player in case MPC-HC failed to play something.
    I wasn't a fan of VLC's UI as I found it was crowded, and took a lot of screen space, and how bad artifacts got when skipping around videos. After messing with settings and finding that disabling GPU Decoding, as well as stripping down the UI, it replaced MPC-HC.
    I later found it's really simple to get VLC to play encrypted BR's, and have yet to run into problems with it, so I uninstalled the absolutely awful commercial BR software I had.

    In short, VLC is my go-to video software, so I couldn't care less what Microsoft did to Media Center.

  22. ArghONaught
    May 6, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Having a Win8 Pro Ultrabook it is academic. It came with a player that won't install because there is no optical drive :D

    The difference between being a legend and a goat is often not much. Microsoft is the goat because Win8 caters to the mindless entertainment crowd but they want all our dollars, not just most of them. If Win8 was not such a pain to use for real work, it would be more understandable.

  23. Cov
    May 6, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I've used VLC for years and it's brilliant. Will play everything I've threw at it including ISO files. So you can create a library in ISO format to keep chapters menus etc. Much simpler than keeping loads of DVD's. Oh! and just one more little thing, it's free.

  24. Robert Backlund
    May 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I do not run Windows 8 but I have run into problems playing some newer Blu-ray movies on Window 7, mainly because Blu-ray constantly changes their encryption so that you have to have the latest firmware installed on your BD combo drive or BD writer that is installed in your PC, and sometimes you even have to upgrade to the latest playing software as well just for the privileged of playing a movie that you have paid at least 25 dollars for. So what do you do if you have a blu-ray drive that the manufacturer does not issue firmware updates, like on my laptop? VLC is a great media player however it will not play encrypted blu-ray movies because being free they do not have any of the encryption algorithms installed. A solution that I found to be great at least for me was a program that is called Passkey for Blu-ray and DVD that is put out by Passkey is a driver that runs in the background and automatically decrypts any disk put into your BD drive and then sends an unencrypted stream to your player software in real time. They also make a wide range of other video related software that you might want to check out, a couple that come to mind is movie creation software as well as BD ripping software, and software for creating MKV files. Oh I forgot to mention that they have a subscription service for Blu-ray Passkey where you can pay for it to work for 2 years for 59 dollars, however the lifetime license is currently on sale for 105 dollars and is available for Widows including Windows 8 as well as the Mac. I bought this a couple of months ago when it was on sale. In that time they have issued several updates. Now I can use my favorite media player VLC to play anything including Blu-ray movies. I also have their Blu-ray ripping software and have been creating HD MKV files from my collection of Blu-ray and DVD movies and putting them on my NAS media server that I built using FreeNAS running on an NAS raid using an old server case and the new WD Red drives.

  25. Reinhard Liess
    May 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I've been using Media Player Classic Homecinema for ages, low-profile app, very configurable, plays everything, and never looked back ( I've never liked VLC very much, primarily because, at least the last version I tested, couldn't seek accurately which is a must-have feature for me.

    • Harshit J
      May 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      It plays almost all formats. What more do you want? It can also play youtube videos, convert videos for you, change playback speed, change audio and video settings etc. for free. What more do you want? Oh, it plays online radio too :D

  26. Lawton Sack
    May 6, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I use VLC for all the videos I watch. However, I am sure the casual/average user of Windows would have rather paid an extra $2 for the capability than not to have it. There are many people that are technology savvy and they expect Windows to work as expected out of the box or on their new machine.

    • dragonmouth
      May 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      "the casual/average user of Windows would have rather paid an extra $2 for the capability than not to have it. "
      No, no, no! It is MICROSOFT that pays $2 licensing fee for the capability. Then they turn around and charge the casual user upwards of $99 for the same thing. A nice markup of only 5000%.

      "There are many people that are technology savvy and they expect Windows to work as expected out of the box or on their new machine. "
      But instead they get cripple-ware.

      • Harshit J
        May 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        Do you know $99 gets you Windows 8 Pro edition, not simply a media codec. Research before you post.

        • dragonmouth
          May 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm

          Win 8 Pro UPGRADE from Microsoft is $199.99
          Win 8 Pro UPGRADE from Amazon is $79.99
          Win 8 Pro FULL Version OEM from Newegg is $139.99
          Win 8 Pro Pack from Microsoft is $99.99 (allows you to add Windows Media Center to Win 8)
          Win 8 Windows Media Center Pack from Microsoft is $9.99 (adds Windows Media Center to Win 8 Pro)

          No matter how you figure it, it costs more than $2 to play DVDs on Win 8.

  27. Lloyd
    May 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I've used VLC for years. It is truly the Swiss Army Knife of media players. I have had a little trouble making it stay the default media player in Win 8. Has anyone else had this problem? I go to Control Panel > Default Programs > Set your Default Programs > click on VLC Media Player in the left panel > and click Set this program as default in the right panel. It tells me VLC is now the default program.....however, some time later and after a reboot it is no longer the default player. Never had this happen with other versions of Windows. What gives?

    • Alan Roscoe
      May 7, 2013 at 4:55 am

      The beauty about VLC is that it will play movies inside an archive without having to unpack it !

  28. S.Phibber McGee
    May 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Before I pay Microsoft $99 or more for a single program and a pile of junk I don't want or will ever use in their bundle I'll go buy a portable DVD player and get more mileage/use out of it and less wear and tear on my more expensive to replace Lap Top's optical drive!

  29. Onaje Asheber
    May 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    For all money made by MS, they should have everything you need to all kinds of media!

  30. daveed
    May 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    This precisely why I ditched Windows, back when Vista was the latest OS.

  31. tebie_
    May 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    VLC is a steady option. Don't need to worry if you got the right and latest codex installed or not. I don't see option B as an option because I'm afraid I would need to install codex anyway in some cases, but I guess it all depends on what features that's included in the pro pack.

  32. carie
    May 6, 2013 at 11:47 am

    ha-ha... just the other day I was wondering why everytime I put a dvd in my laptop, windows media player popped up with a note saying it is unable to play. Not a major problem as I already have vlc, power dvd and a number of other third party apps that work just fine. At least now, I know my windows media player is not corrupt, which was my initial assessment!

  33. Andy Bristow
    May 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Don't buy windows 8...simple

  34. stratos606
    May 5, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I use Zoom Player Pro

  35. stratos606
    May 5, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Third party's media player is a good idea.

  36. Nevzat A
    May 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

    What about K-Lite Mega Codec Pack? Doesn't it allow us to playback any file/disc?

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 10, 2013 at 10:52 am

      More or less yeah. I've never had any problem with K-Lite. My computer will play any media format I throw.

  37. Scott M
    May 5, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I have used VLC a long time now without any complaints.It wouldn't matter what player or service Windows was offering forDVD's,I would continue to use it.It does what it promises perfectly.

    • John Will
      May 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Yea VLC is great my phone even has a app te control it, such as pause and rewind like a controller.

  38. Bumferry
    May 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I guess this is another "step forward". As more and more people take to downloading movies and programs and the like it seems natural that dvd drives (on laptops at least) will become less useful.
    I can't remember the last time i popped a disc in to watch a film.
    I took the time to put all my dvds onto my external hard drive when i bought a Blu ray player.
    Now my dvds are ready to watch where ever I go and with the few pennies i have made from selling dvds I can replace my physical discs with blu ray for watching films on the big screen.
    It's a shame we seem to be loosing the option of having physical disc drives - if this IS how things are going - but we can't escape from progress whether we like it or not.

    • null
      May 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      I too only load DVDs to rip them to my external HDD for my personal library. Fortunately, there are a number of 3rd party apps which can play the VOB files directly, without burning them back to disc. Bonus-I don't have to have Internet access to get streaming video (which often happens where I live, due to weather)

    • Doc
      May 6, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Not everybody knows how to use DVD rippers, terabytes of storage, have the know-how to install codecs and/or media players. Lots of people want "simple," and are willing to pay for the convenience of not worrying about compatibility, which is why set-top DVD and Blu-Ray players are still selling. The same goes for Windows licenses for gaming PCs: Most people aren't willing to set up Linux with 3D acceleration, then go through the trouble of configuring WINE for the game they want to play. They just pop the disc into their Windows box, enter the serial number from the manual, and go.

  39. android underground
    May 5, 2013 at 6:24 am

    M$ pays $2 per license but they charge $10/$100 for a DVD codec bundled with bloatware?

    It's free with K-lite codec pack/Passkey Lite.

    • Justin Pot
      May 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      A lot of people swear by Microsoft's media center when it comes to DVR software. To those people it just might be worth it...

  40. Josemon Maliakal
    May 5, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Yea...I too suggest linux tools

  41. dragonmouth
    May 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    You forgot to mention a third option. Instead giving Microsoft the money, give them the bird by switching to Linux. Then you get not only the O/S for free but any and all applications are also free.

    • AriesWarlock
      May 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Linux can't play games, so... yeah.

      • null
        May 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm

        You are misinformed.

      • milesnassah
        May 7, 2013 at 8:57 am

        A bit off-topic, but .... Your comment would have been valid a few years ago if you are writing about Windows-only games. Linux had and continues to have many games specifically written for the platform. However, you are probably thinking of mainstream Windows games. You can play some of them in Linux using Wine (emulator) but that is a slow and sometimes unworkable workaround.

        The good news is that Steam has come to Linux and comments from users seems to indicate that it is working nicely. Other gaming houses and mainstream titles are sure to follow. Linux is such a powerful, rock-solid, attractive, full-featured system that games will absolutely rock once they are written specifically for the platform. I play games like Skyrim, COD, flight simulators, etc. and would rather play them on my Linux machine which is a beast in terms of stability.

        I use Windows, Android, iOS, Linux (Ubuntu and OpenSuse) and Symbian systems in various incarnations and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Now, I am looking forward to the Ubuntu ecosystem that is being incubated for PCs, tablets, TVs and phones. Can't wait!

        So, it would help to be more specific in your comments so others are better-informed.

    • Rafael
      May 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      Linux doesn't include software required to play DVDs or Blu-rays for free also! Duh!
      Simply download VLC.

      • Christopher Stephens
        May 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        Yeah it does. VLc comes with linux too.

      • Corel
        June 3, 2013 at 3:09 am

        VLV can play dvd movies, but can't play Blu-ray disc. You need a third-party program called Blu-ray player software. And the best answer I think is: [Broken Link Removed]
        It show you top 5 Best Blu-ray Player Software for PC in 2013.

    • Steve K
      May 10, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      Microsoft has wrapped it self around the Idea that the public want nothing but cheep tablet computers. So they are making the move to try to force the public into the same. Myself I'm not giving up on my desktop computer that out performs most laptops, and tablets. I will defiantly not give up my big screen to even an 18" laptop screen.
      When it comes to Linux most distributions are easy to use, and The non-free software to play DVD's is free to the end user. Because of donations given to the supporters of the software. Also I you can understand Windows XP, you can understand how to use most distributions of Linux.

    • lilyforrose
      August 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      I have recently updated my pc to Windows 8 and I can play a DVD-Movies with on problem...but I can't play a Blu-Ray Movies. What is the Best Blu-Ray Player for Windows 8? I have searched for a few days and i tried some recommended software from other forums and this thread below, finally i choose ufusoft blu-ray player, cheap, lifetime update and it do works, just like it chaimed: It is an easy-to-use player for windows 8/7/vista/xp pc, help users enjoy any Blu-ray movie released in different regions and dates with outstanding and perfect video quality, and it is capable of playing popular video files like HD video, AVCHD video, MTS, M2TS, MXF, TS, TRP, MKV, MPEG, FLV, WMV, MP4, etc. Hope it helps.

      [Broken URL Removed]

      Best Regards