Seems Microsoft has decided to drop Windows Media Center as an automatic free inclusion, Media Center will still be available but only as an optional extra and at a cost. There is currently no indication of price, only that it will not be free.
Furthermore, Windows Media Player will no longer support DVD playback. Microsoft decided that the ongoing costs involved with providing support for DVD playback has become prohibitive and has recommended using third party software – never thought I’d see the day when Microsoft would make such a recommendation.
Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we’ve decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade). This ensures that customers who are interested in Media Center have a convenient way to get it. Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support. For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, we are going to rely on the many quality solutions on the market, which provide great experiences for both DVD and Blu-ray.
This news may not be of particular significance to many discerning users who already habitually install alternative media players, such as VLC, but to me it represents further indication of Microsoft’s abandonment of the desktop paradigm in favor of Metro and mobility.
Even though this decision will not affect me personally, I still see it as one more nail in the coffin for the traditional Windows desktop, and begs the question… what’s next?
By the way; it is anticipated Microsoft will debut Windows 8 “Release Preview” in June 2012, with the release of the full version expected some time during fall (between September and November).