Microsoft angers users by cutting Media Center out of Windows 8

Microsoft's decision to charge extra for the Windows 8 Media Center and DVD playback is not sitting well with users judging from responses to the company's blog.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
3 min read
Would you pay extra for Windows Media Center in Windows 8?
Would you pay extra for Windows Media Center in Windows 8? Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft has given Windows users yet another reason to complain.

The company revealed yesterday that Media Center will not be built into Windows 8 despite past assurances that it would be part of the new OS. Instead, users of the Windows 8 Professional edition will have to pony up money for a Media Center Pack. Those running the basic version of Windows 8 will have to pay for a Windows 8 Pro Pack just to get Media Center.

The lack of Media Center also means that DVD playback won't natively be available in Windows 8 since that option won't be part of Windows Media Player. Users who want to play DVDs will either have to pay for the upgrade or rely on third-party utilities.

Many of the people responding to Microsoft's blog discussing the decision are none too happy.

Some are upset over the loss of Media Center. Others are griping about the inability to play DVDs. And several just seem confused, as evidenced by the comments below.

This is another extraordinarily bad move with Windows 8. What will happen to people who upgrade from Windows 7? Will [they] lose the ability to playback DVD's with Windows Media Player? Will they lose Windows Media Centre? What happens to their recorded TV shows? What about their schedules, libraries? Media Centre Extenders?
Even worse is the decision around DVD. You're telling me that my Dad could go and buy a brand new Windows 8 machine, with a DVD drive, and not be able to play a DVD? Tell me why he wouldn't just go and buy a Mac.
This packaging is VERY confusing. If I buy Win8Pro, I don't have Media Center. If I buy Win8 and upgrade to Pro, then I have it. What?!? This really is a shame because you have finally streamlined the packaging, and now this...I also find it quite absurd that Win8 will not support DVD playback out of the box, whereas Win7 did. Really???

And I find myself also troubled by the decision. But it's not so much the move to charge extra for Media Center that bothers me.

I don't use Media Center that often, so I probably won't miss it much. And the lack of native DVD playback in Windows 8 isn't a huge concern. I rarely play DVDs on my desktop though I do on my laptop. But several third-party DVD programs are available, many of which come bundled for free with new PCs.

And I understand that Microsoft is facing higher costs for video codecs and didn't want to pass along those costs to all Windows consumers.

Instead, it's more the backtracking on Microsoft's part that's disturbing.

The company raised concerns among users last year that Media Center would be missing in action from Windows 8, especially since it was absent from the initial builds.

Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky said in September that Media Center would indeed be part of Windows 8, and in fact, the feature is built into the beta version, aka the Consumer Preview.

But Sinofsky's comment in a September 2011 blog that "I want to reassure customers that Media Center will definitely be part of Windows 8" was disingenuous at best in light of yesterday's revelation.

I wish Microsoft had come clean in the first place and cautioned users that Media Center and DVD playback would not be built into Windows 8. By springing the news at this point, Microsoft makes itself look bad and gives users yet another reason to avoid moving to Windows 8.