In addition to launching the Windows 10 Technical Preview 10049 this week, Microsoft has also launched refreshed versions of its music and video apps. These are standalone apps that will one day replace the ones that we have been using since Windows 8. Microsoft is looking for feedback before the apps (presumably) ship with the final retail build of Windows 10.
So Long, Xbox
The first thing Technical Preview users may notice is that the Video Preview app does not have the Xbox branding. The app also doesn't flood the main window with Store merchandise such as TV shows and movies. Instead, the app points to the user's local stash of media. To get to paid content, a link to the Store Beta resides at the bottom of the navigation bar.
As for navigation, users can click anywhere in the app to minimize the bar on the left. In addition to providing a search function and links to the user's media, the navigation bar also includes the user's profile link, Settings and the previously mentioned Store Beta icon. The Settings option provides links to the user's account, info about the app, the path on the hard drive where videos are stored, and an option to restore the user's available video purchases.
Microsoft revealed in a recent blog that users can play any video that was purchased in the older Xbox Video app, including MKV files. Users can also start a video on one device and resume on another. In the future, the Video Preview app will allow users to download movies and TV shows for offline viewing and provide a better Settings toolkit and better search results. There will also be cast information, movie reviews and device management.
A New App For Music
Like the Video Preview app, the new Music Preview app is void of any reference to the Xbox brand. However, when initially launched for the first time, Music Preview splashes the main window with photos of popular music artists. There are also buttons for accessing the user's collection, a button for going premium, and a button for accessing OneDrive.
As for the navigation bar, it includes a search feature and buttons for Albums, Artists, Songs, Now Playing, New Playlist, Import playlists, the user's profile, and the Settings menu, which includes My Account, Preferences, About This App, and Help. The media bar is located at the bottom of the app, which controls playback. This version is blue and shorter in height than the media bar provided in the older Xbox Music app.
Microsoft's blog said that upcoming features will include a compact mode, a better Back button, right-click context menus, a darker color theme (it's currently a very light gray) and more. Customers will also be able to purchase music in the Store Beta at some point, although at press time, music can only be purchased through the original Xbox Music app and the non-beta Windows Store.
A Work In Progress
The blog admitted that Microsoft still has a lot of work to do before the Music Preview and Video Preview apps will replace the current Xbox-branded versions. Why release them now? Because Microsoft wants feedback, which isn't accomplished through the two apps, but rather in the Windows Feedback app located on the Start Menu.
Just last month, Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 will go retail this summer. Further, the new platform will be a free upgrade for consumers running Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. They will have exactly one year to get the upgrade before the retail pricing kicks in. Included with Windows 10 will be a new browser currently called Project Spartan, which we looked at earlier.