Today is the day Minecraft makes its Xbox Game Pass debut. The original Java version as well as the Windows 10/11 Bedrock Edition are available through the new Minecraft Launcher. Because that's the way Game Pass subscription works, it's two Minecrafts at one price. In the future, Minecraft will work in this way.
Gama Aguilar–Gamez, program manager at Mojang, has explained to us how Mojang hopes to remove confusion about the different editions available for PC gamers. “You want Minecraft?” Cool. He explains that you can buy Minecraft to get both.
Players who have downloaded Minecraft via Xbox Game Pass for PC today will be able to use the unified Minecraft Launcher, which handles both Java and Bedrock Editions. Aguilar-Gamez states that this is one of the first steps to having the launcher change from the Java launcher into The Minecraft Launcher.
“We want it to be so that our players can say “Hey, I want to play Minecraft” without having to go through the hassle of choosing the right version.
You'll still need to decide if Java or Bedrock edition you want to play based on the features you are most interested in, such as cross-play with other systems or Minecraft mods. You won't have the worry of accidentally purchasing the wrong version. Mojang will offer the Minecraft PC Bundle for one price. This means that you only have to purchase Minecraft once. You'll be able to access the other version free of charge if you already own the first version.
Aguilar Gamez states that “we're not trying to encourage people to purchase both versions.” If you want both, then get Xbox Game Pass for PC.
The Minecraft Launcher was previously used by Minecraft PC users to play Minecraft Java, and spinoff Minecraft Dungeons. Minecraft Bedrock was launched separately. Your current Minecraft Launcher will now prompt you to upgrade from the Xbox Store to an upgraded launcher version.
Although the process was difficult for me, I was able download the latest Windows application launcher. To do this, select “Minecraft For Windows + Launcher” from either the Microsoft Store application or the Xbox PC application. My Mojang account had to be migrated to a Microsoft account. Our Minecraft Java team owner was not able to download the new launcher until after he had migrated to Microsoft. Despite Mojang's best efforts, players may experience some confusion during the transition to the new unified launcher.
Update: The Microsoft Store now offers a free “Minecraft Launcher” edition. Mojang states that anyone can download it, but they will need to have either the full version or a Game Pass subscription.
Mojang hopes that Minecraft players won't notice any difference once the launcher is installed. The new launcher doesn't change the location of your Minecraft save data. I was able to immediately continue playing the same worlds as before and use the texture pack I had used previously. Aguilar Gamez states that Bedrock players will still be able to launch the game directly from their desktops without having to go through the launcher.
I was concerned that a unified launcher might reduce Minecraft Java capabilities, which PC players love. Aguilar Gamez claims that features such as individual version installation are not affected by the unified launcher and third-party launchers will still work. He says, “We were super vigilant about making sure we weren't impacting anything.”
“Once this initial release stabilization is complete, we have plans for making that launcher feel truly like Minecraft, and not just an utility to launch games,” Aguilar -Gamez says. However, Mojang isn't yet ready to share those plans. It is not clear if the Minecraft PC Bundle will still be available beyond Game Pass.