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Five powerful free apps to play DVDs on Windows 8

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July 20, 2013

Windows 8 no longer supports playback of DVDs natively, but there are a number of powerful...

Windows 8 no longer supports playback of DVDs natively, but there are a number of powerful free third-party apps to solve the problem

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If you get a new Windows 8 computer, you might be surprised to find out that it won't play your DVDs as Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, omitted this feature in the new version of the OS. Although optical media is going the way of the VHS tape, there's a lot of content out there that's not available for streaming or in compatible video formats. Hare are five free apps to get around the lack of native Windows DVD playback and let you enjoy your DVD collection.

VLC Media Player

VLC for Windows allows you to play several video and audio formats including DVDs, which m...

Arguably the most popular free and open source utility for playing a plethora of video and music file formats on Windows and Mac (including DVDs of course) is VLC. After installing this free program, it will be added to the context menu in Windows 8, so you can right click any music or video file to play it. Or you can set up AutoPlay to launch your DVD in VLC when you insert the disc. VLC offers plenty of playback options for the basic user, advanced features for the power user who wants to stream the DVD over a home network, and more.

VLC for Mac, Windows and Linux

GOM Media Player

GOM Player will play your DVDs on Windows 8 as well as most of the audio and video formats...

Another popular free desktop program that will play DVDs on Windows 8, and virtually every media file that VLC can, is GOM Player. It works similarly to other media players, and some would argue it provides a more crisp picture when viewing DVDs. It too has an insane amount of features available to tweak so you can get the perfect playback experience. It also has an official remote control app for iOS and Android devices.

GOM isn't open source and I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up that during the install it tries to install bundled crapware. Usually it's either AVG or Ask toolbar. Just uncheck the option when installing as Windows 8 already has built-in antivirus protection via Windows Defender, and you definitely don't need a worthless toolbar like Ask.com cluttering up your browsers.

GOM Player for Windows

KMPlayer

KMPlayer was recently purchased by Pandora, and not only will it play your DVDs on Windows...

Like VLC, KMPlayer is a versatile open source multimedia application for playing DVDs on Windows 8. And like both VLC and GOM, it contains its own internal codecs and is able to play virtually any media file you throw at it. It's fast, and doesn't take up a lot of computer resources. It was recently purchased by Pandora and has new features to organize video, music, cover art, and an upcoming app store.

KMPlayer

XBMC Media Center

XBMC is an awesome free Open Source alternative to Windows 8 Media Center that will play y...

If you're looking for a complete media center program, check out XBMC. It's free and open source and has a stack community of developers behind it. The latest version plays DVDs right out of the box from the main menu. Then you have plenty of options and settings for optimizing quality playback of DVDs.

XBMC is gaining a lot of popularity as it provides several ways to enjoy your local digital media collection, stream online video and music, and it's compatible on many platforms including Windows, iPad, Android, OS X, Raspberry Pi, the Ouya game console and several others.

XBMC Media Center

Daum PotPlayer

Daum PotPlayer is a lot like KMPlayer, allowing for easy DVD playback on Windows 8 as well...

Daum PotPlayer is currently in beta and it feels a lot like KMPlayer, which is no big surprise considering it's from the same developer. As with the others in this list, it supports DVD playback as well as a large number of file video and audio file formats. It also supports Blu-ray playback, so if you're looking for a free program for Blu-ray, PotPlayer is a good choice.

Daum PotPlayer

Summing up

All five of these programs are fairly similar, and work great for playing DVDs on Windows 8. However, the main thing you need to look out for on a few of them is the extra bundled software they try to throw in. So definitely make sure you're paying attention during the installation process. If you like to customize your Windows experience, you should know that all of these players can be skinned with different custom themes.

One program I didn't mention here is Windows 8 Media Player. It's no longer included in Windows 8, and it isn't free anymore either. It was free for a short time when the new OS was initially released for US$39.99. But now it's an extra add-on which will only work on Windows 8 Pro and will cost you $9.99. The company is definitely phasing out Media Player and pushing its new Xbox video and music services. Because of this, the aforementioned alternatives end up being great free replacements.

Also, if your computer came with a bunch of extra bloatware from the manufacturer, chances are it has DVD playback software which you can always use. But if you're an experienced user, I recommend one or all of these five options because they have a lot more power user options packed into them.

About the Author
Brian Burgess Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Gizmag, he’s the Editor in Chief at groovyPost.com and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek. Away from the keyboard, you're likely to find him listening to heavy metal, playing guitar, or watching Star Trek.   All articles by Brian Burgess
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16 Comments

Top five dvd players:

1. VLC player

2. 'nuff said.

asdf
20th July, 2013 @ 09:38 pm PDT

The article makes you think that Microsoft omitted the ability to play DVD only in W8. No windows OS or Windows Media Player was able to play DVD out of the box. Before VLC and the other players mentioned here you were forced to install a dedicated DVD player like PowerDVD or WINDVD. Or the proper codec now avalaible in packs like K-Lite or Shark007

Marco Gonzalez
21st July, 2013 @ 07:21 am PDT

asdf, I agree.

Denis Klanac
21st July, 2013 @ 05:14 pm PDT

Playing DVD's is a core necessity. Disgraceful oversight? No, the disgrace is endemic during the decline of a giant. Corporations are immortal provided they remain lean and nimble.

Threesixty
22nd July, 2013 @ 01:57 am PDT

I may have to give PotPlayer a try. I was never able to get PowerDVD to actually play a Blu-Ray on my system.

Jon A.
22nd July, 2013 @ 08:54 am PDT

How about a comparative review & reference for the Linux community?

StWils
22nd July, 2013 @ 11:28 am PDT

@StWils, Most people around here don't use linux. So not that useful to most people. Besides for linux you'd just search the software repository and you will find plenty of players (besides vlc).

asdf
22nd July, 2013 @ 12:54 pm PDT

Media Player Classic - Home Cinema (MPC-HC) works fine for me on DVD and pretty well every other video and audio type. It is very well-behaved and unobtrusive.

pat100
22nd July, 2013 @ 06:14 pm PDT

For several yeass I haven't used anything but VLC on ALL platforms. Even the beta version on Android performs better then anything else available. XBMC is too hyped by the Linux community. It most certainly handles DVDs very well. In fact one could also rim them to make computer files.

First of all it does not need any additional codecs to be installed. I can play absolutely any container format. I can play it even as slow as 50 % speed WITHOUT distorting the audio or losing subtitles. Of course this needs more powerful processor. Try it with any other software and you will know.

I don't have any blue ray disks as these are prohibitively expensive here in India. In any case I haven't used a floppy drive in more than 10 years and very sparingly used DVD drive in last 3 years. I used to do everything from a USB flash drive but now that I have 2 Zalman external hard disk enclosures (VE-300 and VE-400) even that is not required.

pmshah
28th July, 2013 @ 10:50 pm PDT

You know what works really well is the Western Digital live player and ISO files. I dubbed off all my DVDs into ISO files onto a network attached storage and I just play them from there using a Logitech harmony remote.

Another thing that works really well is the Sony DVP-CX995V which holds Four Hundred discs in it !! I got one on Kijiji for $60 in perfect working condition, the family had lost the remote control for it and decided to move on to something newer than 2005 technology. Of course, as I said I have the Logitech harmony which can be programmed to control anything. So now I can have 400 DVDs cued up (and by the way it has a HDMI output), furthermore it can also play CDs and even MP3 discs.

VLC is great for playing ISO files on a PC, if you want to do that, and the nice thing about putting the ISO files onto a NAS is you can access them from anywhere. This is far superior to every "cloud" service there is, for many reasons -- the most important of which is that I don't have to pay some company to store and serve files that my NAS is already perfectly equipped to do. Or to question my judgment in dubbing content from DVDs that I own and decide to access over the internet; or to go out of business (or get raided by the authorities) and wipe out my data collection (ahem, "Mega Upload").

Grunchy
24th September, 2013 @ 11:16 am PDT

Yep, this is really worth reading. I use iDeer Blu-ray Player to watch both Blu-rays and DVDs, and Magic DVD Ripper to convert any format I want to have. They all perform very well.

LilyJohn
17th October, 2013 @ 02:59 am PDT

Free tools, i like vlc for playing blu-ray. but i also use UFUSoft Blu-ray Player as an alternative. Which is great for playing blu-ray on my windows 8 pc.

easonjoy01
18th October, 2013 @ 10:59 am PDT

Thank you very much for the information Brian. (-:

Appledude Bilasaanaa
4th December, 2013 @ 08:48 am PST

Today since I only have a 3G internet connection so I downloaded a relative smaller one GOM Media Player. But it did not give me sound when playing my DVD on my Windows 8.1. Then I went to VLC Media Player and it works. Thanks for the post.

Leon Han
1st January, 2014 @ 01:54 am PST

I tried many free and "need to pay" media player including. I found UFUWare Windows 8 Blu-ray Player is wonderful than other mainstream players. For Blu-ray playing ,the best is UFUWare Blu-ray Player after compared with others; for mulitimedia playing, also is UFUWare. I like the win8-like interface,no need to open a dialoge to select and confirm.

Landa Amy
13th August, 2014 @ 04:17 am PDT

I’m using Macgo Mac Media Player, it is a free player for Mac, Which can play almost all formats of media except Blu-rayis and is totally free media player for Mac OS X with high definition of up to 1080P and DTS5.1 audio system.

Sam Tomy
12th November, 2014 @ 08:00 pm PST
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