Free DVD player for Windows 98?

Posted on 2008-11-05
Last Modified: 2013-12-22
I have an old HP Windows 98 (not SE) laptop that I would like to convert to a DVD player for my kids.  It has a DVD-ROM in it, but I can't find the DVD player software that came with it.

I have wasted hour after hour trying to get Media Player Classic and other software to play a DVD but have been completely frustrated.

Does anyone have suggestions as to what I should use?  Thanks!
Question by:wefalk
    LVL 35

    Accepted Solution

    Have you already tried the VLC player?

    It comes in an older version with Win98 support:
    LVL 29

    Expert Comment

    Try this free Codec pack:

    Good luck,

    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    What are the specifications of this laptop?   It's very likely that the unit does not have enough "horsepower" to do real-time decoding of the MPEG video on a DVD ... especially in conjunction with the CSS decode needed by player software.

    In general, anything slower than 600 MHz would likely require hardware-assisted playback support;  and anything from there up to 1GB is still "iffy" ... depending on the other hardware.

    Since the unit did ship with a DVD (I presume it's not an add-on that replaced a CD), then it may indeed have the necessary hardware assist or may be a fast enough CPU ... but you should be aware that this may simply not work.

    You can still get demo downloads of earlier PowerDVD versions that work on Windows 98 -- here's a link to the v6 download:

    That's not free ... but you can install the free demo and at least confirm whether or not the laptop has the "horsepower" you need for stutter-free playback.

    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    "I can't find the DVD player software that came with it".

    That was probably something like Ulead DVD Player version 1.0, but may have something like CyberLink PowerDVD version 4.  Practically anyone who would have bought a boxed retail CD-RW drive around the tail-end of Windows 98 support will have got an OEM bundled version of PowerDVD 4 or 5 that should work OK, so you can always ask others if they have any of those old CDs kicking around.

    I would also make sure that you have updated to DirectX version 8.1, which was the last known version to run without any problem in Win98 (from my experience).  Version 9c installed and ran OK on a few of my Win98 PCs, but caused problems on others.  It is not uninstallable by standard means, so I suggest sticking to 8.1.   PowerDVD I'm sure needs DirectX support, and I think DirectX 8.1 should be OK for PowerDVD 4 and5.

    garycase has raised some very good points about DVD playback on an older machine though.  I once had pretty respactable DVD playback functionality with an old version of PowerDVD on a Pentium III 450 MHz desktop PC with 384MB of RAM and a 32MB AGP 2x Graphics Card, but it really pushed it to the absolute limits and sometimes stuttered and froze, probably due to CPU or graphics overheating, or just the poorer memory handling of Win98.

    Just for the sake of interest, are you aware that Windows 98 actually did come with a very basic DVD Player?  There is also a "DVD" button that can be shown in the Toolbar of the Windows 98 CD Player as far as I recall.  I'm sure that I previously also transplanted Windows ME's DVD Player files into Windows 98 and got better functionality, perhaps after some messing and installation of the additional codec or two though.

    I could give details of how to install it, but it's hardly worth it when you have such a fine free program in VLC Player as suggested by torimar.  Actually, I had only used it as a means to play back Flash Video files (*.flv) acquired from my temporary internet files folder after viewing online video content, but was surprised to see it playing back a DVD from file and from disc recently on an older machine.

    Author Closing Comment

    Worked great first try.  Thanks to all who made suggestions!

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