Enable VP9 in Microsoft Edge for better HTML5 streaming support
Microsoft continues its work on the Edge browser that it shipped with Windows 10 in the latest Insider build 10547 released to the Fast Ring a while ago.
One new feature that is found in the version of Microsoft Edge that shipped with that new Windows 10 Build is support for VP9.
Support for the VP9 is not enabled by default but can be enabled by users of the browser. This is done in the following way:
- Load about:flags in Microsoft's Edge address bar and hit enter.
- Scroll down on the page that opens until you find the Media Source Extensions group and there the Enable VP9 preference.
- Check the box and restart Microsoft Edge afterwards.
One of the easier ways to check that everything went smoothly is to open YouTube's HTML5 Video Player page.
The MSE & WebM VP9 entry on that page should show as supported. Note that WebM VP8 is not supported by Microsoft Edge and will show as unsupported because of this.
Enabling VP9 in Microsoft Edge improves streaming support of the browser. While most streaming services support both VP9 and H.264, support for both formats may be beneficial in a number of ways.
When compared to H.264, VP9 saves a lot of bandwidth which comes at the cost of processing power. This means that generally speaking, it is beneficial to users who work on old hardware to use H.264 instead of VP9 as it may improve overall performance, while VP9 is usually the better choice on modern systems.
This does not take H.265 into account which offers similar benefits but is not (yet) supported by most streaming sites on the Internet.
It is unclear why Microsoft has not enabled VP9 supported directly in Microsoft Edge but the most likely explanation is that the feature may not be fully ready for prime time yet.
Windows 10 Insiders who enable the feature are encouraged to report their experience to Microsoft using the Feedback app that is integrated in the operating system.
You may remove support for VP9 at any time by removing the checkmark next to Enable VP9 on the browser's about:flags page and restarting it afterwards.
The feature is currently only available on the Insider channel. Microsoft has not commented on availability in stable builds of the web browser.
“…beneficial to users who work on old hardware to use H.264 instead of VP9 as it may improve overall performance”
Try as I might, I couldn’t get any base specs for how fast a computer is necessary to play VP9. I even tried to dig up whether or not a Raspberry Pi device could play them as a sort of baseline but no dice. I’d be interested to see what base-level hardware is necessary for all the new codecs coming up.