With a little help, you can play a DVD in Windows 10 for free. However, this help is probably best if it is not from Microsoft. I'll tell you how the Microsoft solution works for some people. Then I'll tell you about the much better alternative called VLC, which everyone can use and is updated regularly. 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 hit the market in 2015, Windows Media Center, a home-theater PC utility, let you play DVDs on your computer. Windows 8 was not included, but users of Windows 8 Pro could still install Windows Media Center.
Even this workaround is no longer available. Windows Media Center just does not work. Microsoft offers an official solution for DVD playback, but that's bad.
Windows DVD Player from Microsoft is a 1
Windows DVD player: Windows DVD player on Windows 10 with success or failure
Users who have upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8 with Windows Media Center to Windows 10 should have received this a free copy of Windows DVD Player. Check the Windows Store and you should be able to download it for free. However, if you have a new PC, you are out of luck for this freebie.
A word of caution: I received Windows DVD Player for free after upgrading Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center in 2015. After the upgrade, Windows 10 was reinstalled. However, I have lost the right to download Windows DVD Player for free.
That is, if you exceed $ 15, you can install the app on one of your Windows devices.
I have the Windows DVD player with an Acer Aspire E 15 laptop running Windows 10 Home, version 1803, an internal DVD, player / burner and five commercially available DVDs.
Microsoft offers a 7-day free trial to test the app. This is helpful because Microsoft does not offer refunds for its DVD player, but the trial version does not allow you to play movies. Instead, your system only checks for "compatibility," a process that takes a few minutes.
The idea that DVD-Software needs to do a compatibility check in 2019 is ridiculous, but there it is. In my tests with the Acer Aspire, the compatibility check did not work. Instead of showing a "go / no go" result, the app simply crashed.
Without Acer's luck, I turned to my familiar Lenovo X220 and an external Transcend standard DVD player / burner. This combination worked in 2015 with the DVD player app from Microsoft and is, as it turns out, still the case. In summary, my 7-year-old Sandy Bridge PC running Windows 10 1803 was compatible, while an Acer Aspire with the more modern Kaby Lake processor was not. Way with the times, Microsoft.
Now that I know that the DVD player is working with the Lenovo, it is Time to spend $ 15 on PCWorld's hard earned money to see how it actually plays movies. All five DVDs I tested worked from studio movies to exercise videos. After inserting a floppy, I only had to start Windows DVD Player and the disc was played after a few minutes. The controls are simple enough to use with a mouse. It covers all the basics: play / pause, fast forward, rewind and skip chapters. There are also controls that are hidden under three dots to return to the DVD menu.
I had a hiccup where some DVD menus could not be navigated properly. You click the option to play the entire movie, and instead land on a settings screen – the menu option just below the one you want. This was not the case with every DVD, but I've seen it once or twice.
Now that I had a full version of the DVD player, I decided to test it again on the Aspire E15 just in case the compatibility test was performed defect. However, all these multiple crashes were correct, and the Acer could not play the same five discs used on the Lenovo. This compatibility check is an important test if you are considering purchasing this app. Still, I would not recommend wasting your money even if it works.
For starters, the app is very naked. The features and user interface have changed little or not since their launch in 2015. If you look at the recent reviews in the Windows Store, some users still have problems with playback. It's not even worth $ 0.99, let alone $ 15.
The good news for those who still want to play DVDs on their PC is that there is a much better free PC option.
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VLC runs on Windows 10.
VLC runs on Windows 10.
If you are using a pre-installed, nested PC from a vendor such as Dell or HP, your computer may already have a free commercial DVD player installed.
If not, a better alternative to Microsoft's Windows 10 DVD Player is the free and always reliable VLC video player. Make sure you download the desktop app, not the Windows Store version that does not support DVDs or Blu-ray.
After installation, open the program, insert a DVD, and click Media> Open Disc to watch your DVDs.
It's really that easy, though the VLC offers surprising hidden powers to anyone who wants to dive deeper. For example, VLC 3.0 added the ability to transfer videos and music to Chromecast devices, support for 360-degree and HDR video, high-definition audio codec passthrough, etc.
Additional coverage by Brad Chacos  To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.