Microsoft updated its Xbox Video apps for Windows Phone 8/8.1 and Windows 8.1 last night. The Windows Phone version gets a variety of small bug fixes, but on Windows, we see slightly more substantive changes related to TV show episodes, video downloading and more.
Neither of these is particularly major updates. The Windows Phone version of the app was last updated less than two weeks ago with performance improvements, better error messaging, and improved search results. And while a late July update that made the Windows 8.1 app look more like Xbox Music on that platform garnered a few headlines, the apps have always worked fine from a usability perspective.
As I've noted in the past, the big issue with Xbox Video isn't the apps, it's the service itself. It offers less liberal licensing terms on both movie rentals and TV show and movie purchases than rival platforms, and I've seen purchased content removed from the store far too often to recommend it generally. You also can't watch HD content in HD on a Windows Phone. So Xbox Video is fine for the occasional rental, as long as you understand that you only have 14 days to watch, and then only 24 hours to finish. (With iTunes, you get 30 days to begin watching a rental.) I would not build a movie collection with this service, however.
Here's what's new.
Xbox Video for Windows Phone
Personal video list sorting now persists across app launches
The full screen button no longer causes the app to show a white, blank screen for some videos
Polish fixes and general improvements
Xbox Video for Windows 8.1/RT 8.1
Episode details pages now give you more context about the episode's series title as well as its episode number.
Clearer messaging has been added to the download manager when copying content to another drive.
Aspect ratios for images have been fixed.
Fixed some bugs where the app would unexpectedly exit.
Other minor bug fixes