Some time ago, I bought my parents a computer dedicated to media (mostly photographs and movies through DLNA). My father asked me if he could read Blu-ray discs on it, so I bought a Blu-ray reader, but I can't find a software to do the playback.

I installed PowerDVD (a free version we got with a Blu-ray disc), but it seems it now requires a (non-free) upgrade. Even if it were free, I hardly see my parents do the upgrade by themselves as they barely understand how computers work. I thought I would find a free software (something like VLC, but for Blu-ray discs), but so far I had no luck.

Is there software that would solve my issues?

It should run on Windows Vista, shouldn't require an update every monday, or at least a free one.

  • PowerDVD aggressively markets its upgrades. I don't believe you need to upgrade. – Ben Richards Apr 4 '12 at 13:49
  • @sidran32: I don't know what happened, but the first installation of PowerDVD was able to read all my blu rays but suddenly, it stopped working and required an upgrade :( (and it was not a shareware version) – ereOn Apr 4 '12 at 20:40
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    What usually happens with Bluray is that they will periodically require updates to the software to allow you to play new Bluray discs. These updates are available for free. PowerDVD may market their pay-for software upgrades alongside them but you are not required to purchase new software to get these updates. There should be a button on the top left with an up arrow that will list the free updates to download. – Ben Richards Apr 5 '12 at 0:21
  • @sidran32: Thanks. I will look for it this week-end. – ereOn Apr 5 '12 at 8:27
  • @BenRichards This is not true. I got bit by that from PowerDVD, they stopped applying the blueray protection updates to my version. I called their support line and was told there is no way to get the update without paying due to my version of PowerDVD "is no longer under support" – Scott Chamberlain May 6 '13 at 0:57

The introduction page for libbluray kind of hints that there isn't an easy way:

Most commercial Blu-Ray are protected by AACS or BD+ technologies and this library is not enough to playback those discs.
People interested in AACS technologies should have a look at libaacs.

But don't get your hopes up for libaacs either:

this project doesn't offer any key or certificate that could be used to decode encrypted copyrighted material.

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  • Thanks for your answer. I was afraid of that :( How do hardware readers ? Those are not "updated" and seem to work even with the latest blu-rays. – ereOn Apr 4 '12 at 10:48
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    I'm hardly an expert in the field, but my own BluRay player requires regular system updates. During which (I assume) it also receives the latest decryption keys. To my understanding, there also aren't that many keys: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AACS_encryption_key_controversy – Der Hochstapler Apr 4 '12 at 10:59
  • Thank you very much for your answer and your feedback ! I guess the easier solution for them is to buy an hardware reader then. – ereOn Apr 4 '12 at 11:08
  • lol I like how the "Legal" section is in French. I'd be willing to bet that there's going to be a job opening for a bilingual lawyer in the software industry sometime soon... – JamesTheAwesomeDude May 5 '13 at 17:10


VLC should be able to play Blu-Ray's. However, they don't provide menu support as of yet. The link has the following procedure on it:

  • Install the latest nightly of VLC 2.0: Go to: VideoLan,then download the latest version for your system.
  • Download the Blu-ray playback addon pack from here, and install the Key file from addon pack – “KEYDB.cfg”
  • Windows 8 – [place in folder named "aacs" located in appdata directory]
  • Open your user area (start->”your username”)
  • Enable view hidden files and folders (Organise->Folder and Search Options->View{tab} and select “show hidden files…”->select ok)
  • Open “AppData” directory
  • Create a folder and name it “aacs” {no quotations}
  • Place the KEYDB.cfg file in this folder directly from the unzipped Blu-ray playback addon pack.
  • Download Install AACS dynamic library for VLC to use: Windows 8 32/64bit: Visit here and Down Windows 8 32/64bit file in your VLC Windows 8 – [Place in VLC program directory]
  • Open “Computer”
  • Open “Local Disk (C:)”
  • Open “Program Files” [Or "Program Files (x86)" if running 64bit]
  • Navigate to “VLC” directory
  • Move appropriate file from unzipped Blu-ray playback addon pack to this directory (file located in “aacs/windows 32″ directory in pack)

Now, you can easily play Blu-Ray disc with VLC on Windows 8 64-bit or Windows 8 32 bit for free. Note: VLC 2.0 still doesn’t have menu support yet.

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Commercial Blu-Ray are protected by AACS or BD+ technologies. Few Blu-ray Player Software supports BD playback on PC or Mac, you can find some of them here: http://www.one-blue.com/licensees/


Mac OS:

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Apart from commercially-licensed softwares like PowerDVD and Arcsoft TotalMedia there's one alternative: Slysoft AnyDVD HD.

AnyDVD HD is a commercial (paid) tool that runs constantly in the background and removes the protection of any blu-ray disc you insert, thus making the files inside available to Explorer and any video player you like, such as VLC. Since the protection is removed, a nice bonus is that you can copy the content to your harddrive as a backup, to build your movie library, or just to troubleshoot playback problems. Note that the legality of using the software is debatable.

Once decrypted, I play movies with the free open-source MPC-HC, which has nice blu-ray support for chapters, subtitles and language tracks. Another great MPC-HC feature (not available in VLC) is that you can start the movie by double-clicking on the single index.bdmv file on the disc to start the correct playlist file, which is otherwise hard to figure out among all the files.

Nor VLC or MPC-HC will not show any menus, which makes access to special features more difficult, and not something your parents will want to do. On the upside, you have access to more flexible options and --in my experience-- more reliable playback than with commercial softwares.

If you want simplicity and ease of use, hardware players and PS3s probably remain the better option.

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    Wait... what's the point of Legally Questionable Software if it's not free? I thought the whole point of the "grey area" was to avoid fees and patents.. – JamesTheAwesomeDude May 5 '13 at 17:14
  • +1 for AnyDVD. Best solution out there for decryption. – James May 5 '13 at 18:27
  • slysoft.com is now gone. – Simon East Jan 13 at 1:52

I personally use MakeMKV. It is able to rip the majority of Blu-ray and HD-DVD movies (and I believe DVD too). This removes all the copy protection from the video, which allows them to be played in pretty much any (decent) media player (VLC, XBMC, MPC-HC).

MakeMKV also supports streaming of videos from the disk, so that you don't have to rip them to your computer first. There are some tutorials on integrating this functionality to enable Blu-ray playback in XBMC (without needing to use MakeMKV separately).

The program is currently free while it is in beta. It has been in beta for quite a while now and doesn't show much sign of changing. If your version happens to 'expire' they regularly post new registration keys in their forums.

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  • Unfortunately the streaming feature of MakeMKV has been removed from recent versions. I just posted an answer with alternative options. – Simon East Jan 13 at 3:46

As of Jan 2020, there are two freeware players I've found that support Blu Ray playback of protected discs on Windows:

VLC – videolan.org

VLC nicely supports Blu Ray menus (at least for the disk I tested recently), but I could not get it to display buttons for skipping between chapters – you need to dig through the menus or use keyboard Shift+P and Shift+N.

After installation you need two additional files to enable Blu Ray playback:

  1. Download keydb.cfg from this site and place in C:\Users\YOUR-USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\aacs
    (create the aacs folder if necessary)

  2. Download libaacs.dll from this site and place in C:\Program Files\VLC

    Note: The site is currently giving me a certificate warning because it has expired, but I believe it's safe to proceed. If in doubt, you can alternatively install Kodi as mentioned below, and it comes with a copy of libaacs.dll which also works when copied into the VLC folder.

Kodi (formally called XBMC) – kodi.tv

Kodi is designed for full-screen playback, featuring nice big buttons and chapter navigation. It doesn't seem to support the Blu Ray menuing system, but it does allow you to choose which title to play from a list, allowing you to skip all the annoying ads and intros and get straight to the main disc title.

To enable encrypted Blu Ray playback, download keydb.cfg from this site and place in
(create the aacs folder if necessary)

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  • If you're still having trouble playing an encrypted disc, you can follow these instructions for getting an updated or more comprehensive keydb.cfg file. – Simon East Feb 11 at 0:49

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