Still got those audio files? You might not be able to play AC-3 music in native Windows apps anymore. Windows 11 24H2 will not include the famous AC-3 codec, also known as Dolby Digital. However, some devices might still have the old codec if the manufacturer includes it. This change does not affect third-party media players.

When you install Windows 11 24H2 and try to play old audio encoded in the AC-3 codec, Media Player will not open it. This includes Windows 11’s modern Media Player and other in-built apps capable of playing audio. By default, Windows 11 24H2 will no longer include the AC-3 codec, commonly known as Dolby Digital.

AC-3 codec in Windows 11 24H2
AC-3 codec playing via Windows Media Player

As first spotted by Windows Latest, Microsoft confirmed this change in a support document quietly published earlier this week. The document states that Windows will continue to support popular codecs such as FLAC or ALAC, but the “AC-3 codec is no longer included with Windows starting with version 24H2.”

“On versions of Windows prior to Windows 11, version 24H2, the AC-3 codec is included. Beginning with Windows 11, version 24H2, the AC-3 codec is no longer included with Windows,” Microsoft noted in a support document first spotted by Windows Latest.

Microsoft also confirmed that some devices may continue to ship with the AC-3 codec, but that’s only when the manufacturer chooses to preinstall it. For example, if an OEM is a close partner of Dolby, it may preinstall an AC-3 codec.

When the AC-3 codec is added manually, you can still play files encoded with the AC-3 audio codec (Dolby Digital) in native apps.

AC-3 codec will still work via third-party apps like VLC and MPV on Windows

AC-3 codec (Dolby Digital) debuted in the 90s and is being phased out, so this is not a surprising move. All streaming platforms and media companies have stopped using the codec when encoding new media files.

However, you might still come across some really old files encoded in AC-3 codec, as this codec once used to hold a significant presence in the audio market.

In that case, you won’t be able to play the audio file using the native apps on Windows 11, but you can always switch to better alternatives like the open-source MPV player.

Microsoft says it’s still committed to supporting popular and modern codecs listed in the following table:

Audio Codecs Video Codecs
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC, M4A) MPEG-4, H.264
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) H.263
MPEG-1, MPEG-2 audio (e.g., MP3, MP2) VP8
Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) Motion JPEG
Waveform (WAV) DV
Windows Media Audio (WMA) VC-1
3GP, 3G2 Windows Media Video (WMV)
Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR)

The company continues to offer some codecs through paid “packs” in the Store. These packs include MPEG-2 Video Extension, HEVC Video Extension, VP9 Video Extension, AV1 Video Extension, and Web Media Extension.

Microsoft also clarified that it won’t remove support for the AC-3 codec in older versions of Windows.

In addition to AC-3 codec, Windows 11 24H2 is set to remove Cortana, WordPad, Steps Recorder and several other legacy services. The update will begin rolling out on existing PCs in September/October.

About The Author

Mayank Parmar

Mayank Parmar is an entrepreneur who founded Windows Latest. He is the Editor-in-Chief and has written on various topics in his seven years of career, but he is mostly known for his well-researched work on Microsoft's Windows. His articles and research works have been referred to by CNN, Business Insiders, Forbes, Fortune, CBS Interactive, Microsoft and many others over the years.