Plex new desktop app packs a fresh look, streamlined downloads

Plex launched a new desktop app today. The revamped app will eventually completely replace Plex Media Player. Plex has also retired its Microsoft Store app in favor of this new version.

Plex today launched a new desktop app, simply called Plex. The new app is meant to take over as the main way to handle and watch all of your Plex content and it contains the same server and library management capabilities as the web app.

The new Plex app “has all the glorious player capability of Plex Media Player, plus an exciting new offline capability,” according to the Plex team. What was previously called “Sync” is now just known as “Downloads,” a way to download your media to your device to take with you on the go. However, the server owner still needs a Plex Pass to enable offline media access. This simpler, more reliable mechanism as Plex describes it should make its way to the service’s mobile apps in the future.

The desktop app uses Plex’s revamped user interface, including the navigation sidebar. It also offers the same server and library management options as in the Plex web app.

Plex is making some other changes to its desktop support. For one thing, it’s killing the old Windows app by removing it from the store as of today. In January, it’ll stop updating Plex Media Player. As a result of that, Plex is phasing out support for home theatre PC setups.

“The long-term plan is for the new desktop app to replace Plex Media Player as our only desktop solution. The new desktop app is notably lacking TV mode, which means that we’re going to stop supporting the traditional HTPC setup using a desktop computer connected to your TV or home theatre with this app,” the team wrote in a blog post. “It marks the end of an era for us, and we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a little bittersweet.”

Plex said it made the call after monitoring how people used the app, and claimed “most of you will have an equal if not better experience with a streaming device and our new players.” It added that casting devices such as Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV use much less electricity than HTPC setups and are generally simpler to use.

The end of HTPC support might come as a blow to users who watch movies through a PC hooked up to a projector, particularly since Plex even used to position itself as a successor to Microsoft’s abandoned Windows Media Center.

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