More on Windows 10 and 4K: The new Microsoft OS will also get HEVC for native UHD support

by on May 4, 2015

Stephan Jukic – May 4, 2015

As can be noted from what we’ve already covered about the minor drama around the upcoming PlayReady 3.0 DRM system and its possible restrictions on reasonable use of 4K video content, Microsoft seems to be taking the idea of getting real, professional 4K video availability to its latest Windows operating system very seriously.

The company wants the next generation of PCs which run on Windows 10 to be ready for and able to accept 4K ultra HD videos from the same streaming sources that are now almost exclusively the domain of HEVC equipped 4K TVs with HDCP 2.2 content copy protection mechanisms in place.

This motivation is why Windows has, first of all, been moving towards making content providers feel secure about finally offering studio 4K movies and shows to a PC end-point (with its PlayReady 3.0 proposal) and, secondly, why Microsoft has also been working on adding support for HEVC and MKV video containers in its latest, still not available, operating system.

The H.265 codec is a fundamental part of 4K ultra HD streaming video functionality in UHD TVs and its presence in Windows 10 is aimed squarely at making sure that the latest iterations of UHD content from sources such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Ultraflix are at least playable in the newer PCs that support the new Microsoft OS.

With the addition of the HEVC/H.265 codec, Windows 10 will allow its users to benefit from access to 4K ultra HD videos on the main OS as well as all installed applications running on a given PC (assuming the PC itself is capable of displaying 4K content and has a 4K monitor). This basically means imminent support for 4K content and possibly also near future support for even 8K content when it begins to emerge within the next year or two.

Studio entertainment content in 4K from Netflix and others might soon finally be available to 4K PCs thanks to Windows 10

Studio entertainment content in 4K from Netflix and others might soon finally be available to 4K PCs thanks to Windows 10

What’s still unclear is if Microsoft’s addition of HEVC will also support future GPUs with hardware acceleration but so far at least, it seems likely given that the first GPUs with this feature are supposed to hit the market in the next few months.

Additionally, Windows 10 will support the MKV container format, which is popular for video formatting since MKV allows fitting multiple subtitles, soundtracks and other effects on a single file. In addition to this, we’ve also heard that the new Windows version might also support the lossless FLAC audio format, but this is unconfirmed so far.

Ultimately, the upcoming full release of Windows 10 is shaping up to be very interesting for fans of 4K ultra HD and fans who finally want access to 4K studio entertainment on their UHD PCs.

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