I'm using a windows 7 laptop with a DVD RW drive, but for some reason only windows programs can use it. Windows Media Player plays DVDs fine, but programs like VLC and DVDFab can't.
I'm wondering if there's some sort of security setting I need to disable.
Try GOM player. There is a DVD region remover, you'd have to search for that software. Might not solve your problem. Microsoft does not make DVD hardware yet, so I figure your problem is with the software you use.