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With all of the recent chatter about new MacBook Pro models sans optical disc drive, it’s not hard to imagine that a discless future lies ahead. Apparently, Microsoft agrees, as they’ve let slip that Windows 8 will not only ship without Media Center but also without DVD player software as well.
The Verge is reporting that Microsoft has decided to make its Media Center software a paid upgrade in Windows 8, and that includes the ability to play DVDs. Claiming that optical disc use on computers is “in sharp decline,” Redmond will ship its latest operating system later this year without either of these once-major features.
The reasoning behind the move is merely dollars and cents -- as in, the “significant amount in royalties” that Microsoft is required to pay to include optical media playback support. Instead, Windows 8 will focus more heavily on online media, with support for H.264, VC-1, MP4, AAC, WMA, MP3, PCM and Dolby Digital Plus codecs.
Sure, the primary use of Dolby Digital these days is for playing back AC3-encoded audio from video DVDs, but apparently nobody told the folks in Redmond. Media Center itself will be available only as an additional purchase after installing Windows 8, available from the new “Add Features to Windows 8” control panel -- although the company isn’t saying how much that will set you back just yet.
Could Apple follow suit with the same sinister scheme in OS X Mountain Lion? That doesn’t appear to be the case thus far, and Cupertino historically isn’t one to try to gouge its users with extra costs (notable past exceptions include QuickTime Pro and that odd accounting quirk that forced iPod touch owners to pay for iOS updates).
Meanwhile, the market for free and inexpensive third-party DVD player software on Windows is likely to get a nice boost later this year, while OS X Mountain Lion users will continue with business as usual -- at least for now.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter