Playing DVDs in Windows

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#1
Taken from a friend of mine at the Yahoo Message Boards -- There could be no better advertisement for open source software than an experience such as this one.

Our department has just bought a brand new laptop for the use of those travelling, and since I happen to be the first one travelling I get to break it in. Yay! Ok so it is an XP machine and since it isn't mine I don't get to change that. But very nice all the same, and at least XP isn't vista!

Anyway, I happened to have this at home yesterday getting everything I need installed and sorted out before the trip so I'd be able to do my work on it while I was away. As usual the kids had the TV and two computers sewn up and there was this DVD that was due to go back that I wanted to see. So - brainwave - rather than kick the kids off the machines I'll just bung it in the laptop.

On inserting the DVD, a popup instantly appears and tells me that I need to install windows media player 11 and that it can't play the DVD until I do. So I curse and swear and get out the network cable and reconfigure the LAN and get
myself onto the internet. Now I can click on the link in the popup which opens internet exploder - oops need to configure that too (not just firefox) and ...

... I get another popup telling me that before I can install windows media player I need to validate my copy of windows. Now it should be OK - brand new laptop - but it makes you nervous. So I say OK go ahead and it tells me that
before I can do that I need to download and install an updated windows validation tool. Which I then do while feeling much put upon. And it downloads and it installs and it runs, and after spending what seems like an inordinate
amount of time examining the contents of my hard drive, it says my copy of windows is genuine and I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

But I still can't play the DVD.

So try again. This time it lets me download windows media player 11 - which seems like a huge download and a long install process. And of course I have to go through a custom install turning off all those dozens of nasty ways that
microsoft wants to look over your shoulder - all the web fetches and tracking and commercial stuff going on behind your back and offers they want to send you that have to be turned off one by one before the thing will agree to just do its
job and leave you alone.

Anyway - at last media player 11 is installed and it opens on a jazzy commercial type splash screen with everything blinking and flashing away there like some kind of neon billboard advertisement. Yuck - but at least it works. So try again with the DVD, and it pops up a really nice message telling me it can't play my DVD because it doesn't have the right codec, and there is a link to a website which will explain the nature of the problem.

Steaming gently ... I click on the link and it tells me that I need to pay them a bunch of extra money for a commercial codec before it will play my DVD. At this point I've spent about half an hour tinkering with it and I still haven't
seen my movie and now I'm faced with what feels very much like an extortion demand before I can get my DVD player to play a DVD.

So ... why don't DVDs just play out of the box? The laptop was sold as having a DVD drive. You'd expect it to be able to ... um ... play DVDs. That is why it is called a DVD player - duh! Why did windows tell me I needed to install windows
media player 11 to play DVDs if in fact windows media player 11 is unable to play DVDs. Why wasn't I told of the requirement to purchase this codec before going through all that validation garbage.

At this point there was NO <expletive deleted> way I was going to shell out extra money for a codec that might not even work. After all I was just told by precisely the same people that media player 11 was what I needed and it
didn't turn out to be able to do the job. I wasn't feeling like handing out money to such untrustworthy types on nothing more than vague promises.

There are in fact zillions of different codecs out there. Should I be expecting extortion demands on a regular basis every time I try to play something different? Not feeling at all happy. Feeling pretty stubborn at this point.

So lets go hunting on the net. There is a whole world of `freeware' out there and of course there are lots of places offering free codecs and codec packs and whatnot. And I'm sure some of them are good. But I'm also sure a lot of them are pretty bad - and some of them likely come packaged with all kinds of malware, and it isn't at all easy to tell which is which. I figure I need an mpeg-2 codec. I find a GPL project on sourceforge that offers one. Check them out. They
look legit. Download it. Install it. Try windows media player again. Windows media player refuses to use it because it says it isn't properly signed. Tear out hair.

OK - FORGET windows media player 11. Lets get something that I KNOW will do the job. Google mplayer. Lets see if it has a windows port. And it does - called MPUI. Download it - tiny download by comparison with all the previous rubbish.
Install is a snap. Start it up. Eureka! Now I can watch my movie.
 

bsmith

Wise master of the mistic
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#2
Watch out, the microsoft goon squad is going to show up and questions your Microsoft loyalties ;)

Wait, thats only for pro Mac posts :nener:

I had the same thing with my work PC, was set up to play DVD's so I brought it for the kids to watch a movies while we drove for 6 hours . Wouldn't work becuase the DVD needed to load it's own media player, so while driving I was trying explain how to install then reboot, finally after the first 30 minutes of what was looking to be a painfull drive got it working. So while on vacation we got a Mac iBook with a DVD player/burner for Christmas, so I thought lets try that on the way home. Insert DVD, and magically the movie starts playing with no Tech Support intervention :)
 

XRpredator

AssClown SuperPowers
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#3
hmm . . . just put in a DVD and it played. on a windows machine.

I must be living right
 

Moose

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#4
I use PowerDVD. I think that's what it's called, to play all my DVD's. I'm making the switch to Mac this summer though. :cool:
 
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#7
XRpredator said:
hmm . . . just put in a DVD and it played. on a windows machine.

I must be living right
You have dvd burning or viewing software installed already. Default OS install of XP wont play DVDs.
 
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#10
Vlan is good stuff. What kind of laptop were you dealing with? I setup probably 50 new PCs and laptops a year, and have NEVER seen one that came with a DVD player not come with a DVD viewing software.
 
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#11
i use vlc for everything video related, i used to have a really sweet program for playing movies on both monitors but i forget it.
 

XRpredator

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#12
mandark1967 said:
You have dvd burning or viewing software installed already. Default OS install of XP wont play DVDs.
You've seen my computer, have you?