Windows 11 resurrects iconic Windows Media Player app

Media Player on Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has announced that a new Media Player is coming to Windows 11, which will replace Groove Music.

According to Microsoft, the new Media Player app is slowly rolling out to Windows Insiders signed up to the Dev Channel, and is reminiscent of the old iconic Windows Media Player, while also modernizing it thanks to the new Windows 11 Fluent Design theme.

This was first shown off by accident during a live podcast stream, but Microsoft stayed silent until a recent update in the Dev Channel revealed the existence of this new and improved app.

However, with so many free media players available, it may be too late for Microsoft to make an impression, compared to when Windows Media Player was at its most popular in 2001.

What’s new in Media Player?

The new app will appear as an update from the Microsoft Store that will replace the current Groove Music app. Showcasing a color scheme of black and orange, or white and orange, depending on your theme being in light or dark mode, it’s a simple design but works well, and which can play both audio and video files.

There’s also HDR support here, so if you have a video file that supports this, the new media player will have no issue in playing it.

Media Player running music video

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The layout of the app is very reminiscent of early Windows Media Player versions, especially when browsing files in the library section.

While the original Windows Media Player app has been available to download since 2012, this new version looks to fill the gap in something that Microsoft has been missing the mark at.

While Windows Media Player has been left by the wayside, other apps such as VLC have taken the mantle as the default video players that users flock to instead. With the different forms that computers take, from tablets to modular laptops, Microsoft’s media player could have been the center of playing all the media available on your device.

With the app still in testing, we may see the new media player arrive in a future update of Windows 11 early next year to help take back the mantle of being the go-to media player once more.

Analysis: A glaring omission is finally being fixed

If you used Windows XP back in 2001, there’s a good chance that you will have used Windows Media Player in some way. Many users remember the bizarre skins that you could use, such as a green head or an orange heart.

While there’s been a version of Windows Media Player available to download since 2012, it was seemingly abandoned, with the Groove Music and Movies & TV apps replacing it instead.

Windows Media Player has that feeling of nostalgia to it, whether that’s from the skins or visualizations it used to offer. But just its name gives the app the right connotations for users who just want to play some music as soon as their PC has upgraded to Windows 11. A name like ‘Groove Music’ doesn’t quite land right, whereas ‘Media Player’ essentially says what it does on the tin.

Some users just want to use the apps that are pre-installed on their PC without having to waste time looking for alternative apps, and this is where Windows Media Player can help.

Microsoft is keen to hear any feedback for the app, so if you want to share your thoughts, you can use the Feedback Hub by going to Apps > Media Player.

Via Windows Latest

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'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck 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.