Media Center and DVD playback have been included for free in the last few versions of Windows, to the great delight of HTPC enthusiasts everywhere. That’s about to change, because starting with Windows 8, you’re going to need to pay for it. Cited by Engadget as being “marginal,” to support the licensing of MPEG-2 and DVD-Video, this pack will likely run you in the neighborhood of $10. If they’re going to charge people, how about some native Blu-ray playback as well, so we can buy everything at once?
Of course, the only codec that really needs licensing is MPEG-2 (less than a dollar), as any serious HTPC user already has other playback programs installed. Zap2It, who provides the guide data, probably needs to be paid as well. I just hope that MS is willing to piece out those licenses (while offering a bundle discount) so that the rest of us aren’t paying twice for what we already own.