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Microsoft: No Disc Playback on Windows 8

4 May, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Microsoft said it will not include physical media playback functionality on the Windows 8 media center, which reportedly is slated to launch in October.

In a May 3 corporate blog post, Microsoft said “telemetry data” and user research suggest consumers primarily consume video on the PC and related mobile devices from streaming sources such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

Microsoft said watching broadcast TV on the PC has declined as well.

The software giant also cited recent data from IHS that claimed consumption of movies online in the United States will surpass physical video in 2012. That report has come under scrutiny for relying heavily on Netflix streaming data — a subscription video-on-demand service largely delivering TV content.

Indeed, total digital spending — including transactional VOD, electronic sellthrough and subscription streaming — grew 74% to $1.2 billion in the first quarter (ended March 31), according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. Meanwhile, packaged media sellthrough — spearheaded by Blu-ray Disc — topped $2 billion in the quarter.

Regardless, Microsoft said the online video consumption growth trajectory trumped physical.

“Online sources are growing much faster than DVD and broadcast TV consumption, which are in sharp decline (no matter how you measure—unique users, minutes, percentage of sources, etc.),” wrote Bernardo Caldas in the Windows Business Group. “Globally, DVD sales have declined significantly year over year and Blu-ray on PCs is losing momentum as well.”

Microsoft said third-party royalty costs associated with decoder technology for playback of physical media could not be justified going forward.

“With these decoders built into most Windows 7 editions, the industry has faced those costs broadly, regardless of whether or not a given device includes an optical drive or TV tuner,” Caldas wrote.

He said consumers of physical media could continue to do so on Windows 8 with the separate purchase of “many quality solutions on the market,” including Windows 8 Pro Pack.

Interestingly, Windows 8 Media Center will playback digital movies stored in the industry-based UltraViolet storage locker platform.

Not surprising, feedback to the post was mixed with many lamenting the apparent dis toward physical media.

“No DVD playback!! This is a f***ing joke! Not everyone has super fast broadband speed you know, and what about when traveling? DVDs are universal! Microsoft fail!” wrote David.  Echoed another post to the blog, “This was full of bad news, indeed.”

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