Microsoft has made changes to how you play media on its popular Windows operating system. The software company debuted a new app that groups your audio and video files in one place.
The changes affect Windows 11, and Microsoft has started testing the new app with Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel. Its design matches the Windows 11 aesthetics.
The new Media Player app will display album art in full-screen mode or mini-player mode when you play a song.
You can also play your videos with the new app, which will automatically add both audio and videos in your folders to the app. However, you can tell the app where to look for media files, just like you can in the Groove music app in Windows 10.
This new app will replace the legacy Windows Media Player app that has survived the many transitions of the most popular personal computing OS and is present in Windows 11. If you want to use the old app, you will find it under Windows Tools.
While the Media Player app has begun being tested, Microsoft has not committed to a general release date for Windows 11 users.
Dave Grochocki, senior program manager lead for Microsoft’s Windows inbox apps team, said, “At the heart of Media Player is a full-featured music library that allows you to quickly browse and play music, as well as create and manage playlists. The update to the new Media Player will replace the Groove Music app.”
In related news, Microsoft has announced Windows 10 will longer get x64 app emulation. This is despite that the company started testing the feature on the version of its operating system nearly a year ago. Only Windows 11 will now get the feature.
X64 emulation lets ARM-powered Windows devices like the Surface Pro X run traditional Windows applications without compiling them for the ARM architecture.
That is not to say Microsoft is abandoning Windows 10 on ARM as it has committed to supporting the OS till October 14th, 2025. It only means users of ARM devices that want to run the apps need to upgrade to Windows 11 or get new devices that come with the update.
Microsoft has not given a reason for this change in its plans. Still, it is stepping up the distribution of the Windows 11 update, meaning more devices that qualify for it will get the update soon. However, the method Microsoft uses to determine eligibility has been trailed by controversy.
“Based on the positive rollout update experience and user feedback we have seen to date, we are advancing the pace of the rollout faster than we previously anticipated, and now making the Windows 11 upgrade more broadly available to eligible Windows 10 devices,” says John Cable, Microsoft’s head of Windows servicing and delivery.
For Windows users left behind on Windows 10, Microsoft has shifted its future updates to once in a year, matching the Windows 11 update cadence. The company has started rolling out the Windows 10 November 2021 update, with the next major update coming next year.
The November 2021 update is a minor one, which is not surprising given that Windows 11 is available already. The only notable feature in the update is GPU compute support in the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which will go unnoticed by the majority of users. Previously, Microsoft began rolling out the update to Windows the Microsoft Store on Windows 10.
“We will transition to a new Windows 10 release cadence to align with the Windows 11 cadence, targeting annual feature update releases,” explains Cable. “The next Windows 10 feature update is slated for the second half of 2022.”
What other features Microsoft plans to bring to Windows 10 in the future remains unknown, but users can expect the older OS to play second fiddle to Windows 11. However, Microsoft will support it till October 14th, 2025. That would leave room for two or three updates with the new cadence.