Benbrook Library / Useful Information

Keep Playing Your DVDs for Free

windows-media-player

The Windows Media Player icon features a play button, but don’t expect it to play DVDs for you ever again.

I’ve owned a number of computers in my day, both desktops and laptops. All of them, excluding the Commodore 64, which was mostly just good for playing Zork, played DVDs automatically and with no hassle. I could pop in my copy of Varsity Blues, kick back, and enjoy without a second thought about the technology facilitating my entertainment. Life was easy. Sadly, life is no longer quite so easy, and like Johnny Moxon, I don’t want [that] life.

A few weeks ago, I helped a patron who had come to the library seeking help with her laptop. She was the latest in a long line of poor souls we’ve encountered who have been victimized by a transition to Windows 10. In addition to her general concern that her unwanted new operating system gave her computer an unfamiliar look and feel, she had a very specific issue she wanted to fix: her computer wouldn’t play DVDs. “This will be easy,” I thought. “I’ll just open Windows Media Player.” That proved difficult, as I wasn’t able to find good ol’ WMP. Perplexed, I took to the Google machine to find out what was up. The results were as annoying as they were surprising.

As it turns out, Windows Media Player isn’t included with Windows 10; it has been replaced by Windows DVD Player (this may be old news to some of you, but for those who haven’t upgraded, it can come as a shock). That may not seem so horrible, but if you purchase a new PC preloaded with Windows 10 or perform a clean installation of it rather than upgrading to it from Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, you have to shell out fifteen bucks to acquire Windows DVD Player. This means many people will have to pay for basic computer functionality that has always been free. Not cool.

Actually, “have to” is a little strong. You “have to” pay up if you want to use Microsoft’s DVD player, but who says you have to use Microsoft’s?* As I was helping the aforementioned patron, some quick Internet searching revealed VLC Media Player to be a reliable, critically well-received, and, most importantly, free alternative to Windows DVD Player. The patron downloaded VLC to her computer, a painless process that took just a couple of minutes. She was able to immediately fire up a DVD, and it rightfully didn’t cost her a dime.

For those singin’ the Windows 10 Blues, downloading VLC Media Player seems to be a good way to freely take back your DVD playing capabilities. It has the seal of approval of BPL’s IT Specialist, George, who says it functions better than Windows’ offering. On a related note, if you are planning to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8.1, be sure to do it before July 29, as after that date the cost of Windows 10 will jump dramatically from its current price of free to $119.

 

 

*Bill Gates does, but he’s not the boss of you now, and he’s not so big.

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