New and improved Windows Media Player is rolling out to Windows 11 users

Windows Media Player on Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)
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After being shown off in the Insider channels since November, Microsoft’s rebooted Windows Media Player is slowly being made available on the new Microsoft Store in Windows 11.

While it was first shown off by accident during a live podcast stream, an update in the Dev Channel in November revealed the existence of this new and improved media player.

It’s replacing Groove Music, the app that’s been Microsoft’s default media player for a while now, but the company seemingly wants to make a sequel to the iconic Windows Media Player from the early-noughties, when it was one of the most popular apps of its time.

But is there a place in 2022 for a new media app in Windows 11?

How to download Media Player in Windows 11

The new app requires you to update your device to Windows 11 build 22000.346 or later, where you can then head over to the Microsoft Store, and download the new media player for your device.

If you have Groove Music, Microsoft’s previous media app that’s been available since 2012, the new Windows Media Player will replace it. In our testing, we spotted that the new media player was available on some, but not all, of our Windows 11 devices.

But you can still download the original version of Windows Media Player (opens in new tab), which has been available since 2012 if you want a nostalgic kick for your PC. But you won’t be able to take advantage of what the new media player brings.

Alongside HDR support when playing videos, the app has seen a redesign to match the Fluent design language of Windows 11 and Office 2021. The color scheme will also match whichever theme you have set for your PC, so Media Player won’t look out of place.


Analysis: Is there room for Windows Media Player in 2022?

The world is a different place since we were using MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player 9 back in 2002. It was before a time where Netflix existed, and ‘streaming’ was what rivers did, rather than being a way of watching media.

Windows Media Player 8 in Windows XP

(Image credit: Microsoft)

But now we’re spoilt for choice with the apps we can use to play our videos. While you can play videos on your Mac through QuickTime Player, or through third-party means such as IINA (opens in new tab), Windows 11 has a wide variety to choose from.

From VLC Player (opens in new tab) to iTunes (opens in new tab), it may require an extra push from Microsoft to make users aware of what was around during Windows 98, and why Windows Media Player is still worth using in 2022.

With Xbox, Surface, and other devices from the company, we may see variants of this new Windows Media Player start to appear on these products. But time will tell if users want to use a brand-new media player when there’s already a great catalog of media apps to choose from.

Via Windows Latest (opens in new tab)

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.