Even those Windows 10 users who are never going to purchase movies or TV shows from Microsoft’s online store should check out the Movies & TV app, which gets a nice refresh with the Creators Update.
Note: This tip is derived from the Windows 10 Field Guide, which is now being updated for the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Movies & TV is kind of a goofy-looking app, with a simplistic new user interface that looks nothing like other apps in Windows 10. And you’re right to distrust Microsoft’s online store for purchased movie and TV show content: Given Microsoft’s history, this content could very easily be orphaned somewhere down the road.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore Movies & TV. As a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, Movies & TV is lightweight and battery- and high DPI display-friendly app. And it’s a much better choice than third-party solutions like VLC for basic video playback. And while you may not want to buy content from Microsoft, there’s no reason why you can’t rent movies from Windows Store and watch them on your Surface or other Windows PC at home or on the go.
Better still, Movies & TV offers such unique features and advantages you may not be aware of. And some of these are new to the Creators Update. They are:
Free movie trailers. In the Explore view, you will find a collection of movies trailers, which are of course free to watch.
Free 360° videos. Likewise, Movies & TV provides an interesting collection of free 360° videos, which let you pan around the video in real time in any direction using a mouse, your finger (on a multi-touch display). Or you can change the view with the directional controls in the upper right.
Subtitle and audio options. Movies & TV supports all of the most popular video formats (plus a ton of esoteric formats too), and provides great support for subtitles and multiple audio tracks. Movies & TV also lets you add external subtitle files to videos you acquire outside of Windows Store. For example, videos from services like Vimeo often include SRT (Subrip subtitle format) subtitle files for download separately from videos. These files let you add and then view subtitles with compatible videos.
Mini mode. The Play in Mini Mode control places video playback in a miniature, Picture-in-Picture (PIP) type window that you can size and position on screen as desired. While in this mode, Movies & TV will remain “on top” of other on-screen windows, so you can enjoy video content while doing other things.
Cast to a bigger screen (or another PC). Movies & TV is compatible with a technology called Miracast that lets you wirelessly stream, or “cast,” content from your Windows PC to a compatible display, including the HDTV in your living room. You can even cast to another Windows 10 PC if you’d like, perhaps taking advantage of a bigger screen there.
Movie rentals. Microsoft’s movie rental capabilities are interesting: You can choose between HD and SD options, of course, but also between streaming and downloading a rental. If you choose the stream option, you can watch the rental on any Windows 10 PC, and can switch back and forth between them if you like. If you choose to download the video, you will only be able to watch it on that PC. Once you pay for a rental, you have two weeks to begin watching it. And once you begin watching a rental, you have 24 hours to finish watching it.
Unique configuration options. Even if you use a light app theme throughout Windows 10, Movies & TV is one of a handful of apps that lets you configure it with a dark app mode, or theme, which is perhaps more appropriate for an entertainment app. You can also configure Movies & TV to always switch to full screen mode at the start of video playback.