How to play DVDs in Windows 10 for free

You can play a DVD in Windows 10 for free with a little help. But that help’s probably best if it doesn’t come from Microsoft. I’ll tell you how Microsoft’s solution sort-of works for some people. Then I’ll tell you about the much better alternative called VLC that anyone can use and gets regular updates. Best of all, it’s free!

Updated March 22, 2019, with a second look at the Windows Store app.

RIP Windows Media Center

When Windows 10 came along in 2015, it left behind Windows Media Center, a utility for home theater PCs that let you play DVDs on your computer. Windows 8 didn’t come with it either, but users running Windows 8 Pro could still install Windows Media Center.

Even that workaround is now gone. Windows Media Center simply doesn’t work. Microsoft offers an official solution for DVD playback, but, well, it’s bad. 

Windows DVD Player from Microsoft is a $15 Windows Store app. It’s a no-frills utility that should just work, but when I tested the app it did anything but. I’m not the only one who experienced this. Checking out the latest reviews, it appears the problems with Windows DVD Player persist since its launch.  

Windows DVD Player: Hit or miss

windowsdvdplayer

Windows DVD Player in Windows 10.

Users who upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7, or from Windows 8 with Windows Media Center, should’ve received a free copy of Windows DVD Player. Check the Windows Store, and you should be able to download it for free. If you’ve got a new PC, however, you’re out of luck for this freebie.

A word of warning: I got Windows DVD Player for free after upgrading from Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center in 2015. Once I did a clean install of Windows 10 after upgrading, however, I lost the right to download Windows DVD Player for free. 

That said, if you do fork over the $15 you can install the app on any of your Windows devices.

I tested Windows DVD Player with an Acer Aspire E 15 laptop running Windows 10 Home version 1803, an internal DVD player/burner, and five commercial DVDs. 

Microsoft offers a 7-day free trial in order to test the app. That’s helpful, given that Microsoft doesn’t offer refunds for its DVD player, but the trial version doesn’t allow you to play movies. Instead, it merely checks your system for “compatibility,” a process that takes a few minutes.

The idea that DVD software in 2019 needs to run a compatibility check is ridiculous, but there it is. In my tests on the Acer Aspire, the compatibility check didn’t work. Instead of showing a “go/no go” result, the app just kept crashing.

With no luck on the Acer, I turned to my trusty Lenovo X220 and an external Transcend standard DVD player/burner. This combo worked with Microsoft’s DVD Player app in 2015 and, as it turns out, still does. So to recap, my 7-year-old Sandy Bridge PC also running Windows 10 1803 was compatible, while an Acer Aspire with the more modern Kaby Lake processor wasn’t. Way to move with the times, Microsoft.

windowsdvdplayer resized Ian Paul/IDG

Windows DVD Player in action

So now that I know the DVD player works with the Lenovo, it’s time to invest $15 of PCWorld’s hard-earned money to see how it plays actual movies. All five DVDs I tested worked, ranging from studio movies to exercise videos. Once I inserted a disk all I had to do was fire up Windows DVD Player, and the disc started playing after a few minutes. Controls are easy enough to manipulate with a mouse, and it covers all the basics: play/pause, fast forward, rewind, and chapter skipping. There are also controls hidden under three dots to jump back to the DVD menu. 

I encountered one annoyance, where some DVD menus couldn’t be navigated properly. You’d click on the option to play the full movie, and end up on a settings screen instead—the menu option right below the one you wanted. This didn’t happen with every DVD, but I did see it once or twice.

Because I now had a full version of the DVD player I decided to test it on the Aspire E15 again, just in case the compatibility test was faulty. All those multiple crashes were correct, however, and the Acer failed to play the same five discs used on the Lenovo. That compatibility check is a key test if you’re considering purchasing this app. Still, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money even if it does work. 

For starters, the app is very bare-bones. The features and interface haven’t changed much, if at all, since it first rolled out in 2015. Taking a look at the current reviews in the Windows Store, some users are also still experiencing playback problems. It’s not even worth $0.99, let alone $15.

The good news for those of you who still want to play DVDs in their PC is there’s a much better free option available for PCs.

VideoLAN VLC for the win

vlcdvd

VLC running on Windows 10.

If you’re using a pre-built, boxed PC from a vendor like Dell or HP, your PC may already have a free commercial DVD playback solution installed.

If not, a better alternative to Microsoft’s Windows 10 DVD Player is to turn to the free and always reliable VLC video player. Make sure you download the desktop app and not the Windows Store version, which doesn’t support DVDs or Blu-ray.

Once it’s installed, open the program, insert a DVD, and click on Media > Open Disc to watch your DVDs.

It’s really that simple, though VLC packs surprising hidden powers for anyone who wants to dive a little deeper. VLC 3.0, for example, added the ability to cast videos and music to Chromecast devices, 360-degree and HDR video support, high-definition audio codec passthrough, and more.

Additional reporting by Brad Chacos

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Supernatural will end with its 15th season

The CW’s supernatural series Supernatural will come to an end with its 15th season. The series follows brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester as they follow their father’s footsteps in the “family business” — hunting down supernatural monsters. Since it premiered in 2005, the series has has garnered a massive fan following.

The CW renewed the series for its 15th season in January. In a video message on Twitter, Padalecki, Ackles, and co-star Misha Collins (who plays the angel Castiel) announced that the series would come to an end with its forthcoming season, and thanked the fans who have watched over the years. “We wanted you to hear from us that although we’re excited about next year,” Padalecki said, “it will be the finale.”

Creator Eric Kripke originally envisioned the series would run for five seasons, only to see it last three times as long, building on the world and the characters for years. Supernatural isn’t the only long-running CW series to come to an end this year — earlier this month, the network revealed that Arrow will end after its eighth season this year. That show, based off of the DC superhero comic Green Arrow, launched a robust franchise for the network, spinning off shows such as The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, along with a forthcoming Batwoman series.

Unlike Arrow, however, the CW has never been able to turn Supernatural into a longer, ongoing franchise. Over the years, the network has introduced several new characters in an attempt to create backdoor pilots for potential spinoff shows, such as Ghostfacers (about two characters who hunt for ghosts), Supernatural: Bloodlines (a series set in Chicago), Wayward Sisters (a female-driven supernatural series), and a western series about Samuel Colt, a fantastical version of the real-world gunmaker. None of those attempts were picked up for a series.

The show began in 2005 as a monster-of-the-week franchise, following the brothers as they work to avenge the death of their mother decades earlier — by hunting monsters. Over the following seasons, the two travel around the United States in a 1967 Chevy Impala, hunting down supernatural creatures, and finding themselves in the midst of a greater war between good and evil. Over the show’s long run, it’s attracted a devoted online fanbase, which the series has occasionally directly referenced and nodded to in various episodes.

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Elon Musk says the SEC’s attempt to hold him in contempt is ‘virtually wrong at every level’

Elon Musk says the Securities and Exchange Commission is “virtually wrong at every level” for trying to hold him in contempt of court after he allegedly violated the settlement agreement the two sides reached last year. That claim was part of new arguments made Friday by Musk and his lawyers as part of a recent back-and-forth between the Tesla CEO and the federal agency.

The SEC asked a federal judge on February 25th to hold Musk in contempt because, the agency claimed, one of the Tesla CEO’s tweets on February 19th may have violated language in the settlement. In the tweet in question, Musk said Tesla would make “around 500k” cars in 2018, which the SEC believed flew in the face of the official guidance from the company offered on January 30th. Musk even published a correction hours after, which the SEC later determined happened because the Tesla lawyer in charge of monitoring Musk’s tweets felt it needed to be amended.

The settlement was reached in September last year after the SEC sued Musk for securities fraud over tweets he sent in August about taking Tesla private. Musk said at the time that he had “funding secured” to pull off the move, but the SEC’s own investigation turned up evidence that this was false. As a result, Musk was forced out as Tesla chairman and had to pay a $20 million fine.

That’s not all. Musk agreed to oversight around his public communications about Tesla — including his tweets. Specifically, Musk is supposed to submit to “pre-approval of any such written communications that contain, or reasonably could contain, information material to the Company or its shareholders,” according to the settlement. In other words, if Musk is about to tweet something that could affect Tesla’s stock price (and its shareholders), he’s supposed to run it by a designated in-house lawyer first.

This specific part of the settlement is what’s behind the current dispute. Musk argued again today that the language of the settlement allows him the freedom to determine whether his tweets about Tesla will be material or not. The way Musk’s team reads the terms of the settlement, there is an “obligation on the executive to make an initial, good-faith determination as to whether a particular tweet requires pre-approval.”

The SEC has a much more strict interpretation of the settlement, and believes Musk is taking too free an approach. After initially arguing that the February 19th tweet was a violation, the commission said this past Monday that “Musk’s unchecked and misleading tweets about Tesla are what precipitated the SEC’s charges, and the pre-approval requirement was designed to protect against reckless conduct by Musk going forward.”

But today’s filing reveals that the disagreement about what Musk could tweet apparently goes back to before the SEC charged Musk with securities fraud. Musk’s lawyers included emails and drafts of the original settlement in Friday’s filing that Musk had reportedly turned down. The documents show that the SEC originally wanted all of Musk’s public statements about Tesla — tweets included — to be approved before they were published, whether or not they were material to the company’s stock price and shareholders.

This became a “sticking point during the negotiations,” Musk’s lawyers said Friday. They write how they explained to the SEC at the time that “Musk’s ability to engage with customers about Tesla products is critical to Tesla’s success, and that Musk would not agree to broad pre-approval of Tesla-related statements.”

Musk ultimately rejected the initial settlement, which also asked for a two-year chairman ban and a $10 million fine. The SEC quickly filed suit against him in court, seeking a ban from all officer or director positions. Musk settled two days later on harsher terms, though with new language about the approval of his tweets.

Musk has also argued that the February 19th tweet was not material to Tesla’s stock price, for a few reasons. He said the 500,000-car production figure matched up with a claim he made on a call with investors on January 30th, which is true, though he has also since offered different estimates for 2019. Tesla has not responded to repeated requests as to which figure is correct. He’s also said the February 19th tweet was “aspirational and optimistic,” and that it caused no movement in the company’s stock price because it was published after trading was closed that day. The SEC has claimed this is a “post hoc” rationalization.

Last week, the judge in the case said both sides would have until March 26th to ask the court for a hearing on the contempt issue. The SEC declined this past Monday, believing that its case has been made. Musk’s lawyers have apparently not yet asked one way or another; we’ve asked them for clarification and will update this post if we hear back.

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How to help survivors of Cyclone Idai

Survivors of Cyclone Idai have been stranded by floodwaters and urgently need supplies and shelter.
Survivors of Cyclone Idai have been stranded by floodwaters and urgently need supplies and shelter.
Image: Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Idai struck the African countries of Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique a week ago, but humanitarian workers are only now grasping the scale of the storm’s destruction. 

Hundreds are dead, and experts believe that number will rise sharply in the coming days. The storm brought catastrophic flooding that submerged entire villages and towns. The United Nations estimated that 2.6 million people were affected by the tragedy. 

“If these reports, these fears, are realized, then we can say that this is one of the worst weather-related disasters — tropical cyclone-related disasters — in the Southern Hemisphere,” Clare Nullis, a spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization, said this week, according to the New York Times.

More than a dozen nonprofit organizations are working on the ground to provide relief, which includes shelter, medical care, clean water, and food. 

If you want to help survivors of the natural disasters, consider supporting the following organizations as well as consulting Charity Navigator’s list of vetted groups working in the area:

The United Nations has deployed emergency teams that provide food, medical supplies, and shelter to survivors. 

UNICEF, or the United Nations Children’s Fund, is offering children and families drinking water, health supplies, and emergency shelter.

Americares, a disaster relief organization, is sending emergency response experts to Mozambique, as well as preparing essential items like hygiene products, antibiotics, and supplies for wounds. 

Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization, is reaching cyclone survivors in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe with hygiene kits and sanitation supplies. The kits include water purification tablets, soap, gloves, and buckets.  

Oxfam America, a global organization that works to end poverty, is providing food, water, sanitation services, and other aid to survivors.

World Hope International is a Christian relief and development organization that typically responds to disasters by providing water, medical supplies, food, and household supplies. 

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The best Kindle: Reviews and buying advice


Amazon offers their Kindle e-readers with features and prices to suit the taste of any bookworm. We’ll help you pick the one that’s perfect for you.

kindle hub

Rob Schultz

Table of Contents

When someone says they want an e-reader, they most likely mean they want an Amazon Kindle. Knowing which Kindle to buy is the next question, and it depends on your budget and your reading preferences. With this guide and our in-depth reviews, we’ll help you find just the right Kindle for you or your lucky loved one.

Updated 3/22/2019 with news of the All-new Kindle, the updated affordable model (starting at $89.99 on Amazon with Special Offers, or $109.99 without Special Offers). Read more about it in our All-new Kindle news story, where we also compare its specs to those of our top pick, the Kindle Paperwhite. 

In the decade since Amazon’s E Ink slabs were first introduced to the world, the Kindles’ popularity has elevated its brand recognition to the same heights as Q-Tips and Kleenex—with good reason. Available in five models with varying feature sets, Amazon ensures there’s a Kindle to meet every bookworm’s needs and budget.

While Amazon’s competitors might offer more technologically advanced or less expensive hardware, not a one of them can hold a candle to the sheer volume of books, comics, and periodicals available to download and consume on a Kindle.

kindle paperwhite vs kindle oasis Seamus Bellamy

The Kindle Paperwhite has the same amount of storage and the same display resolution as the Kindle Oasis, but at a fraction of the cost.

Purchasing one of Amazon’s less expensive Kindles could mean missing out on important features that could make the time you spend reading more pleasurable. But that doesn’t mean the most-expensive Kindle is the right choice: Don’t pay for features you won’t use.

Should I choose the Special Offers discount?

With all models, you can pay an additional $15-$20 to nix Amazon’s “special offers,” a euphemism for advertisements that appear on the Kindle’s lock screen. We show the lower special-offers-included prices in our reviews, because you need to choose the more-expensive option after you put the product in online your shopping cart.

If you’ve already chosen Special Offers and now have regrets, we have you covered. You can back out of Special Offers, but it’s going to cost you. Read all about it in our guide to removing ads and Special Offers from your Kindle

To help you find the right Kindle to suit your reading needs and budget, we’ve put together this brief guide, with links to our full reviews of the hardware we recommend.

The best Kindle for most readers

With the All-new Kindle Paperwhite (available on Amazon), Amazon’s not only managed to catch up to the competition like the Kobo Clara HD, it’s lapped them. The new e-reader’s premium features, reasonable price, and wide variety of content make it the best e-reader for most people. Read our full review.

The best waterproof Kindle

If you enjoy reading by the pool, in the bathtub, or lead a lifestyle that places your expensive electronic devices in liquid peril on a regular basis, you’ll be happy to know that the best waterproof Kindle is also our pick for the best Kindle for most people: The All-new Kindle Paperwhite. 

With its IPX8 rating, it can survive in two meters of water for up to an hour at a time. This means it’s possible to take your All-new Kindle Paperwhite to the beach, into the bathtub, or poolside with a light heart. That said, using the device while it’s wet is less than ideal. As with the 2017 Kindle Oasis, the All-new Kindle Paperwhite’s operating system makes it possible to turn off touch input, lest its touchscreen mistake a splash of water for user input.

The luxury Kindle

The most luxurious Kindle is, not surprisingly, Amazon’s most-expensive Kindle, with a starting price of $270 ($250 if you can live with lockscreen ads). The 2017 version of the Kindle Oasis improves on last year’s model in some important and welcome ways: It’s larger than its predecessor: 6.3 x 5.6 x 0.13-0.33 inches, and 6.8 ounces. But it also feels sturdier, more premium. Like the earlier Oasis, the new Oasis has a 300-ppi display.

Furthermore, the new Oasis is waterproof. Indeed, it’s comparable to the Waterfi-treated Kindle Paperwhite, with an IPX8 rating. 

Another big plus is the Kindle Oasis’ support for audiobooks—as long as its via Amazon’s Audible service. Yes, that means third-party audio books, music, and podcasts are off limits, but still, we appreciate the flexibility that the Audible support allows. (Read our full review.)

Front lighting, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth controls are easy to find. It’s also easy to customize the font type and size for an optimized reading experience. Add that the wealth of content that Amazon’s Kindle line excels at, and you’re looking at the epitome of a luxury product.  

All our latest Kindle reviews

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