Plex Announces New Desktop App, Leaves HTPCs Behind

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The media managing and streaming service Plex has rolled out a new app today, and it might mean some painful adjustments for long-time users. Starting today, there’s a new Plex desktop app for both Windows and macOS — this will replace the existing Plex Media Player client. That marks the end of old-fashioned HTPC support for Plex. 

For the uninitiated, Plex is a media player platform that organizes video, music, photos, and other media. You can link Plex to files stored on computers, servers, NAS boxes, and even mobile devices. Plex streams all that media on-demand, even transcoding it on the fly as necessary. Technically, you’re only supposed to be using it for media that you own and have backed up, which is already a gray area. However, it’s also popular with the torrent crowd. 

The new Plex desktop app supports most of Plex’s existing features and improves a few others. As Plex users can tell you, the “Sync” option for offline downloads has been abysmally slow and buggy for a long time. With the new desktop app, that feature gets a makeover as “Downloads.” It’s faster, more reliable, and gives clearer feedback while content is being saved. The interface is also consistent with other Plex clients with one notable exception: TV mode. 

Years back, the most common Plex implementation was to attach a home theater PC (HTPC) to a TV to stream media. With the proliferation of cheap streaming devices like the Chromecast, Apple TV, and Fire TV,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce almost no one bothers with HTPCs anymore. Thus, Plex is retiring the TV interface with the launch of its new desktop app. This will, no doubt, upset some Plex fans nonetheless. 

What about the old Windows app? The version of Plex in the Windows Store will be retired, but that’s no great loss. According to Plex, developing a Windows Store client made sense in the past as Windows Phone existed in some capacity. Today, developing for the Metro/Modern UI platform is not a good use of resources, Plex says. 

If you don’t want to give up the classic Plex Media Player client, it’ll be updated through January 30, 2020. You can keep using it, but it’ll probably break before long without updates. The new Plex desktop apps are available for free. Some features like mobile sync, live TV, and more are locked behind the “Plex Pass” premium subscription.

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