As you may already know, Microsoft Edge, the default web browser of Windows 10, is moving to a Chromium-compatible web engine in the Desktop version. A preview version of the browser found its way to the Internet. There are a few options among the hidden flags available in the browser which suggest that Chromium-based Edge is able to handle 4K and HD video streams.Microsoft explains that the intention behind the switch to the Chromium code base is to create better web compatibility for customers and less fragmentation for web developers. Microsoft has already made a number of contributions to the Chromium project. The company promises to contribute more to the Chromium project, and to release its preview version soon.
There are a couple of pre-release Chromium-based Microsoft builds that were unofficially released recently. Check out:
- Hands-on with the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge
- Another Edge Insider Preview Build is unofficially released
Enthusiasts on Reddit have found two new flags available on the hidden
edge://flags page in the browser. The flags are:
- PlayReady DRM for Windows 10
- PlayReady Experimental HEVC Decoding
When enabled, they allow playing high resolution video streams in Microsoft Edge. The feature requires a HEVC codec installed.
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265, is a video compression standard which succeeds H.264. While H.264 itself was a groundbreaking improvement in video compression, HEVC allows achieving the same picture quality level as H.264/AVC, but with an even better compression. So, the file size can be smaller. This is important when dealing with high resolutions like 4K or Ultra HD, or very low-bitrates especially with online media content. Storage and bandwidth are never unlimited so media file size needs to be as small as possible.
Windows 10 supports HEVC via a special codec which can be installed from the Microsoft Store
To Enable 4K and HD Video Streams Support in Microsoft Edge,
- Install the HEVC decoder from the Store.
edge://flagsin the address bar of the Chromium-based Edge.
- Enable both 'PlayReady DRM for Windows 10' and 'PlayReady Experimental HEVC Decoding' flags.
- Restart the browser.
Now, try to use some video streaming service that supports high resolution video content, e.g. Netflix. You should be able to watch it.
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