How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free

Windows 10 won't play DVDs natively, and Windows Media Center is gone.

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Windows 10 brings a lot of good stuff to the table, but it also takes away some key functionality that Windows 7 users might miss. In Windows 10, you have to say goodbye to Windows Media Center and with it, the ability to play DVDs natively. Microsoft said in May it would have a native solution for DVD playback to make up for those who lost it.

Originally this app was supposed to show up later in the year, but Microsoft’s solution is already available. In my tests, however, the app doesn’t work perfectly. Luckily, there are other options.

Windows DVD Player

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Windows DVD Player in Windows 10.

If you are upgrading from a machine with Windows Media Center—no matter whether it’s Windows 7 or Windows 8.1—you should see a modern UI app on your PC called Windows DVD Player. 

I tested the app with a Lenovo X220 laptop running Windows 10 Pro, an external Transcend standard DVD player/burner, and five commercial DVDs.

In my tests the app wasn’t working properly, but it promises to be great once it’s fixed. When you fire it up, Windows DVD Player automatically detects if you have a DVD inserted and then starts playing it back.

The app had no problem getting through the FBI warnings, previews, and the menus of my DVDs, but it failed to playback a few of my movies.

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It also wasn’t very good at switching between discs. I had to restart the app every time I inserted a new disc before the DVD would be detected. The app has no way to jumpstart playback with a play button, either. If it doesn’t detect the DVD, you must restart the app.

Your experience may vary, but if you run into the same problems I did you may have to look elsewhere for now.

VideoLan, baby!

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VLC running on Windows 10.

If you're using a prebuilt, boxed PC from a vendor like Dell or HP, your PC may already have a commercial DVD playback solution installed.

If not, a better alternative than Windows 10's half-baked DVD app is to turn to the free and always reliable VLC video player. In my tests, I was better off with using the traditional desktop app and not the modern UI version. 

To get VLC working, download it from VideoLan, and once it’s installed, open the program. Assuming you have your DVD inserted, click on Media > Open Disc then just sit back and enjoy your DVDs.

It’s really that simple—though VLC packs a surprising amount of hidden power.

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