Microsoft is incredibly excited about Windows 8.
In fact, it is so excited about its new operating system that it is compelled to promise that the new operating system will "delight media enthusiasts around the world". However, DVD and Blu-ray playback support is not going to be part of that pleasure unless you shell out a few extra bucks.
Déjà vu. Remember the outcry when Microsoft announced in 2006, shortly before the release of Windows Vista, that the spanking new operating system and its Windows Media Player would not support DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray playback out of the box? Well, the same is happening with Windows 8. Back in 2006, Microsoft argued that the it was worried about unsigned drivers and copy-protection concerns that may have put it in the line of fire of Hollywood. In the end, Hollywood had argued for years that Windows was the Pandora's Box of digital evil.
This time around, the justifications provided by Microsoft are not about copy protection anymore. However, Microsoft is still dancing around the actual reason why DVD playback will be cut. My personal favorite? DVDs just don't sell anymore and are in an unstoppable decline, so there is no reason to support DVDs in Windows anymore. Granted, I cannot remember the last time I watched a movie on a PC, but there are still plenty of people who, for example, enjoy DVD playback on a notebook on an airplane. Tell them that DVDs optical media sales are in a decline and that would be the reason to cut DVD playback from Windows and you are sure to get an earful.
Of course, the real reason is mentioned in the post as well. It's about the cost of decoder licensing that Microsoft wants to recoup. You can still get DVD playback, but you will have to pay extra - as you did for Windows Vista if you wanted that feature in the Windows Media Player - and acquire the Media Center Pack or the pro pack to end up with Windows 8 Pro "with Media Center". There was no information how much those extras will cost, but if you want to avoid them, you also have the option of choosing third party media software solutions, which have now an opportunity to market themselves in a much more efficient way.