What's a DVD Encoder?

I have acquired a really old laptop from a friend. It has a DVD player. It is running windows XP (because my friend was a little stupid and didn’t realize its bad to put XP on a 6gb hard drive.)

Anyway, I tried to play a DVD, and it said I lacked the necessary DVD encoder, or something like that.

Is this something I can download for free somewhere?


It means you lack the software to play DVDs.

There are several freeware DVD software programs, but I don’t know which one is good.

I use Media Player Classic to play DVDs on my PC, but it looks like it’s main site is down right now. It is also a complete media player, I use it for all my video files, including realmedia and quictime. It’s unbloated, uses less RAM, and all in all pretty darn good.

Here it is anyway, in theory it will be back at somepoint.

What you’re missing is a DVD decoder. Or, more precisely, an MPEG-2 decoder. MPEG-2, the video compression algorithm used on DVDs, is still covered by patents (AFAIK), so the decoder isn’t shipped for free with Windows, even though Windows Media Player has everything else it needs to play DVDs.

You typically get a decoder when you buy DVD player software (WinDVD, etc.) or buy a new computer that includes a DVD drive. You can also download decoders by themselves, for example here or here, and video players like Media Player Classic and VLC may include their own decoders, although I suspect you may be infringing on the MPEG patents by using a freeware decoder.