VLC Windows 8/8.1 app gets new screenshots; could be released soon

In October, the VideoLAN team submitted their long awaited Windows 8 version of their VLC media player to Microsoft for certification. The team got the app approved but without the audio portion enabled. Today, the team sent Neowin some new screenshots of the VLC app for Windows 8 and 8.1 along with a new development update.

VideoLAN President Jean-Baptiste Kempf sent Neowin a note stating:

We have video (correct one), audio, support for all files formats without our old trick (sending it on a local network), network streaming playback, and subtitles. All that with passing the WACK (technical certification). We have submitted it already (and got rejected, because of a crash). We
will try to get around this nasty bug (race condition) and resubmit (this week? the next?)

The new screenshots  show off the UI of the app and Kempf says that while there might be some changes for audio, it won't be much compared to what's being shown in the new images. He adds, "The UI is very simple, since we focused on managing to port VLC to the
platform, which has proven hard and tedious. As soon as the first version is out, we'll welcome help from other developers on those parts."

This first version will be just for Windows 8 and 8.1. Kempf says that as far as porting the app to Windows RT, "We're working hard on it, since we don't have (yet) a fully working compiler, but that (is) the next task and should come in the following weeks hopefully." The port from Windows RT to Windows Phone 8 will be next and he says it will be a simple task, "since it is mostly a UI modification."

The project to port the popular VLC player to Windows 8 started a year ago when the team launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund its development.

Images via VideoLAN

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I am really looking forward to installing this on my Surface2. There are some fairly decent 3rd party apps that work not too bad (Media Monkey, Multimedia 8) but VLC is going to complete my Surface2 tablet! Can't wait!

Did it occur to someone that none of their screenshots show any but WinRT native formats? The normal Xbox Video App can play .mp4, the Xbox Music App can play .mp3 files. So what's the big deal? The UI is so simple that it looks like a child built it. If VLC can't show anything better than that I feel glad that I didn't invest in making that thing.

Sir Topham Hatt said,
I wonder if MKV support will come to Windows RT now?

VLC Metro supports FLAC and MKV (which XBox Music and Video do not). When (if) they get the ARM Ports for Windows RT and WP up and running, the same formats will be supported on those platforms as well.

BTW, this was the number one reason I donated and why I still hold out some very faint hope for the ARM port to hopefully come soon. During the loooong wait for it I have still not found any app in the store capable of reliably supporting all my MKVs with multiple audio tracks in various formats, embedded and external subs in various formats, embedded chapters and so on. VLC Metro's initial release is supposed to have "basic subtitle support" (no mention of my other requirements), but hopefully it's just a start and by the time the ARM port rolls around they'll have improved support for all these things (fingers crossed).

Edit: Since there's no guarantee of the ARM port coming soon, why don't you try the existing apps (such as PressPlay, mobile.HD, PowerDVD Mobile or even Plex for transcoding and streaming) and see if they work for your collection of MKVs?

Edited by Romero, Dec 3 2013, 10:10am :

MrHumpty said,
I just hope I can watch WTV files on my Surface RT

Try Plex. The Windows store app has a trial. I use it for my htpc wtv files. You can also access them remotely.


Awesome. Excited about this app since there really isn't an app I like that does what VLC will be able to do.

Sadly, I don't quite believe them when they say that the Windows RT version will take just a few more weeks. My gut says a few more months at least or maybe even mid-2014, but who knows...

I have already lost faith in this project completely in August, when i realized It may be a neverending story of fixing issues-try to submit to the store- store rejects due to some madeup isue- trying to rewrite/hack/workaround - retry submit to store - rejected again due to some another madeup issue - etc. etc.
Microsoft is in an interesting position here: on one hand they are against vlc due to interest in their own sh*tty Xbox music+video app (which has far the worst user Experience on the entire wp8 software inventory), but on the other hand they would gain a significant extra userbase if the news spreadson internet that wp8 finally has a proper media Player that does .mkv!

So you say that Microsoft is "against VLC"? Yet the VLC developers involved with the port themselves stated that Microsoft was thrilled about their endeavor (as they should be) and would provide them all possible non-financial assistance such as hardware, technical and design help. Never have they stated otherwise, nor are they beholden to Microsoft to keep their mouths shut if they were ever treated in the manner you describe (as if you are some sort of insider to the process).

Next you talk about how supposedly Microsoft is deliberately raising obstacles and rejecting the app's store certification on frivolous grounds. Yet the fact as far as we all know is that the app has been submitted for certification twice. First time as a work in progress without audio and it did pass but was obviously useless, and second time just recently with audio but did not pass due to bugs and crashes that the developers admit to.

As you yourself stated at the end, there are extremely obvious reasons why Microsoft would love for VLC to be available on all Windows versions, so instead of being dismissed outright as a biased anti-MS crank who fabricates lies, would you care to provide some proof regarding both your assertions?

Edited by Romero, Dec 3 2013, 6:35am :

Oh, and here's something I forgot to add above regarding Microsoft's equation with VLC. Since you mentioned that VLC is supposedly an XBox Music/Video competitor (which I don't believe is the case since the latter are not simple playback apps), one can also state that it is equally (if not more so) a WMP competitor on the desktop. Yet Microsoft went out of its way to fund VLC's Windows compatibility program (see http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott...ntitrust-investigation/1593 for details) because it obviously made sense not to turn away the millions of users of one of THE most popular media player apps on the planet. Anyone claiming that Microsoft doesn't want VLC up and running on Windows, especially it's newer struggling platforms where it most needs quality apps to attract users, has _got_ to be joking or worse.

They're wondering about that too.

VLC Email
So, here is an update about our port on WinRT platforms.
I now say WinRT platforms, but that means:
* Windows 8/8.1 ModernUI "Metro"
* Windows Phone 8
* XBox One? (who knows?)[/list]

You May be right, but in that case why nobody else in the World had already submitted a media Player with similar capabilities as the Vlc? There is a loud demand out there, so lack of demand / bussiness case is not an excuse.
Its not the porting which is a nightmare here, but i Think the Windows Api is an immature and incomplete piece of software junk.

First of all, when you refer to the "Windows API" being "an immature and incomplete piece of software junk", I assume you're referring to WinRT specifically?

As for the reasons, here are a few I can think of right now:

i) Is usage of Metro apps significant enough yet to warrant such a huge investment in creating a VLC clone from scratch, such that the developer will be able to recoup the money from sales of the same and then turn a profit? Note that even the VLC team required a significant amount of cash to devote resources to this project, and technically the app has cost its backers more than $75K. How many developers can pump in that much cash to develop an app with a similar amount of complexity to VLC?

ii) Say someone did develop the app on spec, keep in mind that on "full" Windows technically a Metro app is not even required. Only Windows RT *needs* VLC badly, whereas on full Windows the existing VLC will run fine. The "loud demand" you talk of is IMO more from RT users than full Windows users. I mean, sure some people might want a touch-friendly UI, but in general who would prefer a new and potentially unstable/not as full-featured Metro app as opposed to using the existing one? For sure not the Metro haters or those who avoid Metro on desktops! Which again ties in to the first point - just how many would buy the app to first offset the investment and then to generate a profit?

iii) With VLC itself making its intentions clear barely a month after GA of Windows 8, and being funded 2 months after GA, why would most developers bother knowing full well that once the app comes out and is available for free to all (except for the backers who paid for it obviously), no-one is likely to buy their app? Even if VLC Metro is half as good as their app, most people will prefer free over paid any day.

iv) VLC is the result of the combined effort and hard work of many people, amounting to a huge amount of man-hours of work. Replicating all that from scratch would surely require a team with the requisite level of expertise in (multimedia) programming, and IMO it's not something a lone developer or two can just bang out in a short while.

It'd be nice to see MS update the WinRT APIs to allow for the types of things VLC is trying to do, right now they're having to find workarounds and basically do lots of things from scratch because there's no API support yet.

I hope with the next update to the OS they add in even more API support like they did with 8.1. Maturing WinRT is what will help apps overall. It's also something WP needs with WP8.1 to, limits in the APIs is part of the reason why many apps aren't at feature parity with their iOS and Android counterparts it seems.

George P said,
It'd be nice to see MS update the WinRT APIs to allow for the types of things VLC is trying to do, right now they're having to find workarounds and basically do lots of things from scratch because there's no API support yet.

I hope with the next update to the OS they add in even more API support like they did with 8.1. Maturing WinRT is what will help apps overall. It's also something WP needs with WP8.1 to, limits in the APIs is part of the reason why many apps aren't at feature parity with their iOS and Android counterparts it seems.

It has been more about the complexity to port/rewrite the custom engines it was using.

What few legitimate complaints they had like gaining access to I/O devices for DvD playback, was added in Windows 8.1 WinRT's update. (8.1 added a lot of things that developers argued the necessity to have.)

What amazes me about multi-platform support is a lot of developers go for portability and then use hacks or pollute the port with Unix specific code and then use a set of custom libraries that allows it to run on Windows. This creates porting problems like this when moving away from x86 to ARM, and often also makes software slower as things the Unix style code is doing is often redundant on Windows.

Atomic Wanderer Chicken said,
Does anyone know if the app will be able to play DVD movies? I'd like to hook up an external DVD drive to my Windows RT tablet.

That's actually the exact same reason I'm interested in this... DVD support on my Surface RT without having to rip it.

It uses certain api calls for audio that are forbidden for certified apps. This is the main reason VLC is taking so long to get on the app store.

The approval process is based on whether or not the app uses things like battery-killing or performance-killing features of the platform, if I recall correctly. The actual usefulness of the app isn't really what Microsoft considers when it screens these apps (otherwise how could they compete with the iPod fart apps )

Tangmeister said,
The approval process is based on whether or not the app uses things like battery-killing or performance-killing features of the platform, if I recall correctly. The actual usefulness of the app isn't really what Microsoft considers when it screens these apps (otherwise how could they compete with the iPod fart apps )

Apple v. Microsoft: Which app store has the most fart apps.

Google v. Anyone: Nuclear war time for fan boys.

chrisj1968 said,
I like VLC and hope they get this API issue worked out.

Did you read the article? They already got the audio issues worked out.