If you are using Windows Media Center regularly on XP, Vista or Windows 7, you may now want to take note that changes are coming to the media player in Microsoft’s upcoming operating system Windows 8.
According to a recent blog post on the Building Windows 8 blog, Windows Media Center will only be available as a (paid) feature upgrade on Windows 8.
Windows 8 (regular) and Windows 8 Pro users will notice that Windows Media Center is not included in their operating systems by default, even if they have upgraded to Windows 8 from a system where they had access to the software.
That in itself may be a big issue for users who made use of the software to record TV shows, playback their video collection, view photos, listen to music, or who have been using some of the plug-ins to integrate third party services like Netflix into the media player.
The main reason for the move are licensing fees, that Microsoft partners were worried about.
Our partners have shared clear concerns over the costs associated with codec licensing for traditional media playback, especially as Windows 8 enables an unprecedented variety of form factors. Windows has addressed these concerns in the past by limiting availability of these experiences to specialized “media” or “premium” editions.
As a result, Windows Media Center is made available as an upgrade to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel applet (formerly Windows Anytime Upgrade).
Windows Media Player will remain available on both editions, but without DVD playback support. Yes, you read that right. If you want to play DVDs on Windows 8, you either have to add Media Center to the OS, or use a third party solution like VLC for that job.
It is also interesting to note at this point, that the upgrades are named differently. Windows 8 Pro users need to acquire and install the Windows 8 Media Center Pack for their operating system, while Windows 8 (regular) users the Windows 8 Pro Pack. Both will end up with Windows 8 Pro with Media Center.
Microsoft has not revealed any pricing information yet, but it is likely that the upgrade for regular Windows 8 users will be pricey, as it will upgrade the operating system to Windows 8 Pro in the process.
Windows Media Player on the other hand won’t receive DVD playback capabilities after the upgrade, so that DVDs can only be viewed in Windows Media Center on the computer or a connected device.