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In brief: Microsoft has applied a fresh coat of paint to one of its oldest default OS apps: the venerable Windows Media Player. Now just called the ‘Media Player’ in Windows 11, the revamped app is currently rolling out to Windows Insiders in the dev channel.
There’s no shortage of third-party, potentially better alternatives to the Windows Media Player, but the latter still holds a special place in the hearts of many Windows fans who grew up watching and listening to content on the default media app. Microsoft took it out of the spotlight in Windows 10 and buried WMP in the menus as it aggressively pushed its own first-party alternatives, namely Groove Music and the Movies & TV apps that debuted on the platform with Windows 8.
However, it now looks like the Media Player is primed to make a comeback, as Microsoft has given it the Windows 11 design treatment and released the app to Windows Insiders on the dev channel.
While it carries over much of the same capabilities and functionality of the old WMP, the new app comes with a slicker interface, with Microsoft boasting of rich album art and artist imagery in the player’s full-screen and mini-player modes.
In addition to usual features like creating/managing playlists and browsing local music and videos, the app will come with improved keyboard shortcuts for accessibility.
Media Player will also replace Groove Music, migrating users’ music collections to the new app. However, it looks like Microsoft’s Movies & TV app will coexist, for now, while the legacy WMP version will remain available under Windows Tools.
Expectedly, there are a few issues and bugs with the app, as Microsoft is currently testing them with Windows Insiders. There's no word on whether Windows 10 users will get the app in a future update. It looks unlikely, given that the OS has now entered its end-of-life cycle and will see fewer feature updates going forward.