I am a big fan of “Play To” in Windows 7, with the feature you can send audio, pictures and videos from Windows to any DLNA enabled device on your network.
In Windows 8 they are improving the Play To features to include HTML 5 Video streaming from IE10 and easy access for developers. They are adding Play To features for developers to hook into so they don’t have to write there own Play To features or create the UI for it.
Windows 8 comes with the the components needed for developers to add “Play To” functionality with a minimum of effort, they get the fully Play To features without any extra work so a developer could create a video app and by adding a couple of lines of code the app would have full Play To features. In Windows 7 developers have to code their own DLNA features and there was no standard UI for it, where as Windows 8 creates a consistent UI for the feature.
Windows 8 has built in discovery of DLNA devices, in the new control panel there is a devices tab that lists detected devices and when Play To is selected it filters the devices by their capabilities e.g. When playing videos it will only show devices capable of playing video.
As well as 3rd party apps the Metro browser in Windows 8 also has Play To built into it, so when playing any HTML 5 video in IE you can swipe in form the right, select devices and then you can “Play To” the video to a DLNA video device. This is something that Apple have working in Airplay has been great at on the iPad and will be great to have this functionality in Windows.
At Microsoft’s Build Conference they have a session showing how to develop with Play To apps with Windows 8 and explain how it developers can make use of Play To in their Apps. I have embedded the session, if your interested in seeing the future of Play To its well worth watching. There are no Metro video or music apps in the developer build but Microsoft say that the HTML 5 video playback feature works in the developer preview build of Windows 8.