Windows 8 – Fixing Blu-ray and DVD problems

Windows 8 users report problems with playing Blu-ray discs. The solutions are simple but not free.

Blu-ray drives disappear in Windows 8 Explorer

As many people discovered to their dismay, Windows 8 does not play Blu-ray or DVD discs. Even the $39 Windows 8 Media Center upgrade does not play Blu-ray discs.

The story is it costs $2 per license to include a Blu-ray license in Windows 8 and Microsoft thinks that’s too much to pay.  

Playing Blu-ray and DVD discs in Windows 8

To play commercial Blu-ray and DVD movies the solution is to buy software like Cyberlink PowerDVD 12 for about $70. Some people are suggesting the freeware VLC but skip that since VLC cannot play the Blu-Ray discs you buy. VLC shipped in January with a Trojan virus which spooked me and I removed it.

Most Blu-ray drives come with a limited version of PowerDVD which can be upgraded for a few dollars less.

PowerDVD 12 comes in two version, Ultra and Pro.  The only obvious difference is Ultra has 7.1 channel sound and Pro has 5.1; however, I found that eventually you come across something that is only in the Ultra version.

PowerDVD is not perfect. It’s still 32-bit software and can lock up for no reason. All I can say about that is: it was worse with earlier versions and there are no better solutions.

Windows Media Center is bad software. It does not play well with other software and has been the ugly duckling of Windows applications since it was introduced as Windows XP Media Center Edition.   In the faint hope the Windows 8 version was an improvement, I installed it but Media Center is still unusable, in my opinion. It always wants to be full screen and the menu system feels like something they put on those “Smart TVs” – ugly, confusing and slow.

Of course the real question is: what’s the value of watching Blu-ray discs on a small computer screen. Blu-ray’s high-definition video and audio were meant for 1080p TV’s where the higher resolution makes a real difference.

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Opening the disc drive in Windows 8

The default installation of Windows 8 hides the Blu-Ray and DVD drives in Desktop Explorer. The drives should show up in “Devices and Removable Storage” but not as drives under the Computer. That can be confusing.  

On Microsoft support, people were reporting the “CD DVD player is missing”. The suggestions range from upgrading the drive bios, changing settings in the Registry Edit, buying another drive to giving up.  

I would recommended that the drive bios be upgraded from the manufacturer’s site if possible. However, the real solution is “none of the above” on making the drives visible. Window 8 Desktop Explorer sets the device to “Hidden” unless there is a disc in the drive.

Windows 8 DVD Blu-Ray player not visible in Explorer

Here’s the solution to making your drives visible again.

  • Open Desktop Explorer
  • Select View…Options
  • Tab View
  • Click on “Hidden Files and folders….Show hidden files, folders, and drives.“
  • Remove the check mark in  ”Hide empty drives in the Computer folder”
  • Accept with OK

You should be able to see your CD, DVD and Blu-Ray drives in the Computer folder.

Windows 8 – changing folder options

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