For those that have ever read any of my posts here at Windows 8, you’ve probably heard me say more than once how I feel that Zune’s services should be re-tooled into a Windows Metro app. While the Zune hardware element is long dead, Zune for Windows has a strong system of music, movies, and television for rental, purchase, and with music there is even an unlimited stream play pass.
It looks like Microsoft saw the logic in going this route as well. As most folks know by now, yesterday Windows 8 Consumer Preview was let loose to the online world. After about three hours, Windows 8 was downloaded and thus begun my adventure in installing it. I’m happy to report that one of the first apps I was drawn to was in fact labeled “Video”.
Inside I found a rich interface that allowed TV and movie purchases and rentals. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it’s a great start. As I navigated through this part of the Zune services I found that it still needed some polish, but otherwise it was a solid example of what kind of multimedia integration we can expect in Windows 8.
Overall, it was easy to figure out where to go and how to make purchases with the Video system.
Next, we have the “Music” app. I won’t go into too much detail here, as you can see it works very similarly to the existing “Video” app. What I did notice isn’t at least at this point there is no integration with Microsoft Zune’s unlimited music pass. I’m curious as to whether or not that will change when Windows 8 is finalized.
The last thing I want to talk about in regards to multimedia in Windows 8 Consumer Preview is the “Xbox Companion App.” Xbox integration seems to be a key part of the multimedia experience in Windows 8. While I will largely focus on the Xbox LIVE Games system another time, I will say that the Xbox Companion app offers some pretty interesting future possibilities for Windows 8 and Xbox integration.
In the Video app, right-clicking will give you access to a button that allows you to stream your video choice directly to the 360 that you’ve paired with your desktop, laptop, or tablet. At least at the moment though, Music doesn’t offer this option.
Cross-console multimedia experiences are starting to become an important part of the gaming/entertainment world. With the Wii U, Nintendo has decided to put a tablet-like controller into the mix.
With Sony’s PS3 you can use the PS Vita for some games and experiences. Meanwhile, it looks like the 360 will allow tablets and laptops to work as a streaming screen and potentially even use as a controller for some games. While none of these Xbox features are completely up-and-running yet, the foundation is clearly there.
While Windows 8 and Xbox 360 pairing will certainly get some focus from Microsoft, I imagine a MUCH bigger presentation at E3 if they announce the rumored Xbox 720. 360/Windows 8 features have potential, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is just the icing on the cake compared to what we’ll see with 720/Windows 8.
What do you think of Windows 8’s integrated media experiences so far? Share your thoughts below.