It’s hard to know what to make of Microsoft’s plan to ditch DVD/Blu-Ray playback in Windows 8, a rebuttal to which was written yesterday by Paul Thurrott. On the surface, it appears to be a ballsy move, of the type you’d expect from Apple. I recall when the iMac arrived, sans floppy drive, and everyone went mental. Lots of people then bought USB floppy drives and used them about five times before realising that, it turns out, Apple was right: the tech was pretty much dead. Today, you see much the same in Apple’s line-up: tablets have no optical media drives, and Macs are gradually losing their drives, too. Right now, the MacBook Air and Mac mini both lack optical drives. I’ll be surprised if any Mac has one built-in by 2014.

However, removing the drive and removing support for optical media are two different things, and Microsoft’s doing the latter with Windows 8. It argues at comical length that you don’t need drives, and you’ll be able to buy an add-on that brings support to Media Center, and you shouldn’t have to shoulder the cost of what you don’t use, and Microsoft is incredibly excited about the future of entertainment in Windows, and ooh, look, SQUIRREL!

Ultimately, money appears to be the issue here. Microsoft has removed a feature, presumably to lower the default cost of Windows 8, and is nickel-and-diming its users. Apple sometimes does the same thing, but only with software (FaceTime, say), rather than core functionality. That Microsoft’s removing DVD/Blu-Ray playback capabilities from Windows 8, under the guise of “not everyone will use it, so not everyone will pay” is a strange decision. Not everyone will use other aspects of Windows 8 that require fees to be paid for their inclusion, but should they be wrenched out too? Head too far in that direction and you logically end up with Linux, which is fine for geeks, but not for people who just want to use and play stuff without mucking about.

This is one of the few times I’ve utterly agreed with Thurrott:

Microsoft should just put both Media Center and DVD playback in the box, and suck up the costs. Period.