Plex for Windows 8 gets major update

Media server developer Plex Inc rings in the New Year with two notable new updates to its cross-platform range of media server and media center products. First, Plex Media Server launches with a number of enhancements and new features, including support for album music searches and the potential for massive performance improvements when streaming via DLNA.

Joining it is a major update to the Plex for Windows 8, which adds a universal search tool among other improvements.

Plex Media Server, the cross-platform engine that drives Plex’s media solution, adds six notable new features and improvements to its roster. Users can now search their music sections by album, while support for filtering movies by studio and sorting by the last view date have also been added.

The aforementioned performance improvements apply to “some” DLNA streaming scenarios, while the new build now allows players to specify a protocol and respects their chosen port. The Plex/Web client is also better supported by the addition of endpoints for uploading custom media assets such as posters.

The update also comes with a large number of bug fixes across various parts of the platform: Windows servers no longer run at 100 per cent when a Windows 8 device is connected through the app, and a crash on starting has also been resolved. A workaround has also been implemented allowing Windows 8 machines running both server and Windows 8 client app to connect.

Elsewhere, the transcoder should benefit from faster startup times, while channel background art should also appear correctly. The iTunes channel has also been fixed to work with iTunes 11.

Plex for Windows 8, which like other Plex mobile apps is a paid-for product, promises a number of improvements as well as the usual raft of bug fixes. Keyboard navigation is beefed up, while users can now select audio and subtitle streams, enjoy universal search across their entire media collection and a new high-quality – but still experimental – MPEG-2 TS transcode format for video playback that allows most H.264 video to be remuxed. There’s also a brand new channel store for adding additional channels to the server.

One caveat of updating to the new app is that it will only connect to servers running Plex Media Server or later.

Both Plex Media Server for Windows, Mac and Linux, and Plex for Windows 8 are available to download now. Plex Media Server is freeware, while Plex for Windows 8 must be purchased through the Windows Store for $2.99. Both programs offer automatic updates for existing users. Also available are Plex for Mobile, a paid-for app for iOS and Android, plus Plex Media Center, a free desktop app for Windows (including Windows 8 PCs), Mac and Linux.

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