I’ve been waiting for an alternative to the stock Xbox Video Player in Windows 8 because I’ve had so many questions about why most videos don’t work with it that I tell people to just stop using it. I then show them to VLC or Media Player Classic on the desktop and away they go, oblivious to why it didn’t work in the first place and then predictably, they somehow go back to using Xbox Video. But there’s an app for that now – VideoLAN has finally published their Modern UI app through the Windows store and it’s not too bad.
The app is completely free and conforms to Microsoft’s requirements for Modern UI apps. VideoLAN has done a really good job with the UI as well, fitting in things properly and maintaining much of the desktop program’s functionality. On launch it indexes your libraries and maintains the same album art and tags that you have in Windows Media player (at least from what I can see).
The issues that I have found so far, though, is that not only does VLC for Windows 8 not recognise media stored on other hard drives, there are also a lot of settings that are missing. By default there’s some kind of “heavy” equaliser setting for the audio and there’s no way to change this in the app’s settings, which are sparse. There is subtitle support for videos, but no settings for aspect ratios and all that fluff you get on the desktop app. When minimised while playing a video, the sound will be muted but when a regular audio file is playing, the audio continues.
Now, that wouldn’t be much of an issue if there were also lock screen controls for the app, but there aren’t. While your computer, laptop or tablet is locked the app has no way of controlling the music or volume whatsoever. Perhaps this will be coming in a planned update to the app or to Windows, but it does reduce its usability quite a bit.
Regardless, you can now install VLC for Windows 8 on the computers of people who hate Xbox Video and come away smiling because you won’t be bothered again about incompatible containers and strange filetypes, at least according to Windows Media Player. The VideoLAN team has a long way to go, but this is a nice first step to an app that should have been on the store over a year ago.