Chromium-based Microsoft Edge to support HD and 4K Streams (Netflix)
One of the advantages of running Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 is that you may play certain streaming content in HD or 4K resolutions. All other web browsers that you may use for that, be it Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or any Firefox or Chrome based browsers such as Opera, Vivaldi, or Pale Moon, can't play certain media streams, e.g. those from Netflix, in 1080p or 4K officially.
While there are extensions available for Chrome and Firefox to raise the 720p default to 1080p, nothing emerged up until now to unlock 4K streaming in those browsers on Netflix as well.
The only other option on Windows, any version or edition of Windows, to play Netflix in 4K is to use the official Windows 10 Netflix app.
While there is a possibility to run Windows 10 in a virtual machine to play streams in unsupported resolutions, it is not the best of options.
Microsoft's announcement that upcoming versions of the Microsoft Edge browser would use Chromium as its core may have left some users puzzled whether the new browser would also support 4K streams on Netflix.
The answer is yes, as it turns out. The latest leaked version of the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser supports WideVine and PlayReady, and thus 4K Netflix streams. The browser is still in active development and the option to unlock HD and 4K streams is found behind flags currently.
Users who have access to the leaked version of Microsoft Edge or official access on Windows 10 may enable the flags in the following ways (note that it requires build *.111 or later).
- Install HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer from the Microsoft Store.
- Load edge://flags in the browser's address bar.
- Search for Windows 10.
- Set "PlayReady DRM for Windows 10" to Enabled.
- Set "PlayReady Experimental HEVC Decoding" to Enabled.
- Restart Microsoft Edge.
The feature is only available on Windows 10 and there is no sign that Microsoft will bring it to earlier versions of Windows or versions of the new Microsoft Edge browser for Linux or Mac OS X.
Microsoft needs features that differentiate its Chromium-based Edge browser from the world's most popular browser Google Chrome. Features like this, 4K playback on Netflix, may appeal to a small but dedicated audience. If Microsoft manages to support enough features that make it unique, it could become more popular than the current version of Edge.
Whether that is enough to usurp Google Chrome remains to be seen.