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Microsoft: Only Microsoft Edge Will Play Netflix Content At 1080p On Your PC (pcworld.com) 237

An anonymous reader writes from a report via PCWorld: Microsoft made the bold claim on Wednesday that its Edge browser was the only browser of the big four browsers -- Chrome, Firefox, and Opera -- to play Netflix content at a 1080p resolution. PCWorld tested the four browsers and found this claim to be valid. The other three browsers capped out at a 720p resolution. Microsoft has been trying to boost Edge's reputation. Microsoft recently claimed that its Edge browser is more power-efficient than Chrome. (Opera later denied those claims.) This is the latest bold claim to come from Microsoft in regard to its Edge browser. Microsoft has even publicized a Netflix support document to show that Netflix streams at 1080p on Internet Explorer and Edge, and 720p on the other browsers. PCWorld used the "secret Netflix menus" that were first unearthed by Reddit users (Ctrl+Alt+Shift+D) to display the resolution and bitrate and confirm that Microsoft's claims are true. "In a blog post, Microsoft claimed Microsoft Edge was built to take advantage of platform features in Windows 10, including the PlayReady Content Protection and the media engine's Protected Media Path," reports PCWorld. "The company said it is working with the Open Media Alliance to develop next-generation media formats, codecs, and other technologies for UltraHD video, and with chipset companies to develop Enhanced Content Protection that moves the protected media path into peripheral hardware for an even higher level of security, and one that could be used to protect 4K media."
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Microsoft: Only Microsoft Edge Will Play Netflix Content At 1080p On Your PC

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  • Why a browser ?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PIBM ( 588930 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:13PM (#52507313) Homepage

    You aren't even getting 5.1 channel audio with a browser, please use the netflix app for your ears. Well, at least in Canada, they should improve the audio bitrate all around, that would be even better!

  • That's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:16PM (#52507331)
    can it also upgrade my eyes so I can tell the bloody difference? And get me a bigger TV while I'm at it. And unplug the $100 Amazon FireTV and replace it with a $300 ($400?) Windows 10 PC?
    • Re:That's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Thursday July 14, 2016 @03:51AM (#52508679)

      Holy shit, how bad is your vision?

      For me, being somewhat nearsighted and using glasses, the difference between 720p and 1080p is as stark as night and day, when the encoding is clearly optimized for each respective format, especially when there's lots of small details. For me, the absolute biggest difference is when watching nature documentaries.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        Well there you hit the nail on the head. To me 1080 vs 720 or even less matters more depending on the content than anything else. There is basically no difference watching a bunch of characters wonder around their apartment on the Big Bang Theory at 720 vs 1080. Its does not matter much, you get plenty of detail to see all the relevant information at 720. It might even be true that given its a man made set, the higher detail is more likely to reveal distractions like fake props and take away from the ex

      • If I actually had a TV that supported 1080 or was large enough to make it worth it I might be able to tell the difference in streams but not on my 39 inch that is 720p. I would need to have a 50 inch to make 1080 worth it at the distance I regularly view and that's just too big.

      • Most definitely this. It's very apparent that you're missing something when you see them back to back. Don't get me wrong, even an upscaled DVD looks decent still in this day and age, but once you watch the same thing in 1080p, the difference is clear. Hell, even streaming 1080p isn't as good as the visuals a Blu Ray can provide. It's admittedly not a problem for a TV series or a mediocre film, but if it's something I want to get the full experience from, Blu Ray is the way to go. It does help that I've got
      • The difference on the Netflix content might be big between their 720p and 1080p streams but in general if you have a good upscaler in your display it's very hard to notice a difference. On my 65" it's really hard to see if I feed it a 720p stream from my BluRay copy of i.e BladeRunner (and that disc have great picture) or if I feed it the full 1080p stream. Now not all displays have that good of an upscaler of course.
    • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
      You certainly don't need a $400, pc. I have an HP streambox that I got second hand for $75, here's a new option for around $100; https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014... [amazon.com]

      I've had too much trouble trying to use Linux on my set top. Now that Netflix works, HBO doesn't, and who knows which ones will work in 6 months. I decided to stick with windows 10, in tablet mode.
  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:18PM (#52507333)

    First of all, big 4? Hardly.

    Secondly, there is exactly one and only one reason why Edge would play in 1080p but everyone else plays at 720p. Settings. There is nothing technical about Edge that the others lack. This whole thing screams of Microsoft yet again playing some shifty game, most likely involving backroom deals that would be very interesting to read about if made public. This isn't a new thing. It's how Sony won the BluRay vs HDDVD war, after all.

    • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:30PM (#52507371)

      Settings in a way, but not something as mundane and friendly as a checkbox exposed to the user anywhere. This shell game of truthiness is about which browsers are allowed to play 1080p content by the media consortiums and which browsers are following the DRM rules bullshit.

      • Exactly. This is what I was talking about, but I guess I wasn't clear enough in my post. Thank you for clarifying.

    • by tezbobobo ( 879983 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:48PM (#52507451) Homepage Journal

      Firstly, between those 'big four' browsers share > 95% of the market. So yeah - big four. Also it doesn't make sense to compare Edge to browsers that don't run on the same platform, so wtf would you include Safari - it doesn't make sense. If you factor out Safari, the remaining browsers make 2% of the market. So that description was entirely appropriate.

      Secondly. it doesn't matter what the reason is. Does it matter whether its a technical limitation? It isn't Microsoft that is stopping its competitors - it is them stopping themselves. Microsoft hasn't magically disabled 1080p in other browsers - they did it themselves.

      So Microsoft is right, and that's all people will care about if they want 1080p.

      Also, Chrome sucks at memory management.

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )

        Also it doesn't make sense to compare Edge to browsers that don't run on the same platform, so wtf would you include Safari - it doesn't make sense.

        You mean this is another story about Windows CE/Mobile/Phone/RT or whatever they are calling the platform that nobody uses these days?

      • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi.evcircuits@com> on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @08:12PM (#52507531) Homepage

        Microsoft did magically disable 1080p in the other browsers, it's right there in the summary. Edge is the only browser that (can) use PMP and PlayReady which the content cartels require for 1080p playback on Windows systems.

        • by magamiako1 ( 1026318 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @08:22PM (#52507557)
          No, they enabled copy protection that the content producers want to see enabled before they let you stream 1080P/4K content. That's just how it is. It sucks, but don't go after Microsoft on this one.

          The good news is that since 4K will be so hard to obtain--then most end users will ultimately just use 720P content anyway. There's no demand for 4K content in the sense that if it's too fucking difficult to access nobody will want it.
          • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi.evcircuits@com> on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @08:39PM (#52507613) Homepage

            So how can others make use of this copy protection? That's right, they can't because Microsoft is the creator of the 'standard' and controls the keys to the kingdom and doesn't really publish anything about it. There is no way that you can get your program to work with DRM in Windows without jumping through major hoops (both technical and bureaucratic) and even then, the thing is barely documented.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Its not though. As someone who helped put it on a set top box recently, your org just has to sign with MS to be a playready developer and pay your license fee. After that you are free to go use it and generate keys. They have full docs and specs on how playready works and how its implemented. You then have to pass netflix's certification suite (which is mostly fully automated, choose test, tell it which device, run test, look at results/errors) to their satisfaction and your good to go

            • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14, 2016 @12:06AM (#52508211)

              You're being a crybaby bitch. PMP has been out since Vista. Firefox doesn't support it because they were too busy fucking with the UI, fighting H264, and adding in bullshit like Pocket. Opera has completely jumped the shark, threw out their flagship browser, and now just distribute a half-baked blink browser. Google? They're too busy implementing tracking features.

            • by Trogre ( 513942 )

              Just more reason to avoid:

              1. Microsoft products, and
              2. Netflix

              Problem solved.

        • by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Thursday July 14, 2016 @12:01AM (#52508203)

          Microsoft did magically disable 1080p in the other browsers, it's right there in the summary.

          The other browsers never had 1080p so please feel free to explain how Microsoft could disable something (magically or otherwise) that they never had? What they did was create a DRM solution that was acceptable for the content producers, the other browser makers have failed to do this. If Microsoft didn't create their DRM solution then Edge would max out at 720p content just like the other browsers.

      • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

        So Microsoft is right, and that's all people will care about if they want 1080p.

        No, this is Slashdot, anything Microsoft does is bad. In the off chance it's something that is 'good', it's obviously an EEE conspiracy.

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )

      There is something technical about Edge that the other browsers don't have - full hardware acceleration. Other browsers support hardware acceleration, but for some reason Edge seems to be doing it better than the rest. I guess because it's designed to only run on Windows 10, and so can take advantage of some of its more bleeding-edge functionality. This might make its way to other browsers eventually, but for right now Edge is doing something other browsers technically can't.

      Or it's some "shitty game", a

    • Must be settings. Just tried Firefox and it states:

      "Playing bitrate (a/v): 64 / 5620 ( res: 1920x1080, par: 1x1 )"

      I call bullshit to this article.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:19PM (#52507335) Homepage

    doesn't have it in the repos?

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:23PM (#52507341) Journal

    I got old worn-out eyes; I don't see the difference and don't fricken care.

    I only care when I want to zoom into Natalie Portman's [censored], but don't want to pay extra for that.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

      I only care when I want to zoom into Natalie Portman's [censored], but don't want to pay extra for that.

      Yeah, you have to zoom in quite a lot. The [censored] can get pretty pixelated.

    • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:31PM (#52507377)

      Just get cold grits, they look the same as hot grits.

    • Plus, a lot of movies on Netflix don't even have 1080p to begin with. Just tried testing this with "The Martian" and didn't understand why both Edge and Firefox were showing 720p. The only thing I could find quickly that had 1080p was "House of Cards" which is a Netflix production. It seems that there's a lot of content that they don't license in full resolution. The BBC Planet Earth series seems to only come in at 512x384. I'm in Canada, so YMMV.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      The real problem going beyond 720 is the plastic surgery, botox, makeup et al make them like shite and crappy acting really stand out. I generally prefer well upscaled 480 as it tends to look better in terms of hiding undesirable production affects. Going beyond 720 provides not benefit beyond scenery channels and just sucks up to much space on hard disk drives. Scenery though, the more resolution and the bigger the screen, the better it is, prefer it over a window and I have a great views from my windows

    • I got old worn-out eyes

      Eyes don't wear out when starting at something comfortably a few meters away. The oldest of eyes can still resolve accurate details with these things call glasses. Now if you have a degenerative disease that is causing you blindness then yes you have bigger issues to worry about, but that's hardly a case of wear out. /Disclosure: I feel borderline blind without glasses and yet with them on still greatly prefer 1080p

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:36PM (#52507403)

    Back to using undocumented features to gain an unfair advantage?

  • Unclear (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The article is kind of unclear as to why Edge is the only one that can do 1080. Is it because it supports the DRM that others don't? Is it because the others don't support the right codec? Is it a partnership between Microsoft and Netflix? What's actually going on?

    • by mcl630 ( 1839996 )

      It comes down to DRM.

      https://blogs.windows.com/wind... [windows.com]

  • wrong story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @08:01PM (#52507501)

    here's what the real focus should be:

    DRM Slows Down Videos; Most Browsers Only Capable Of 720p From Netflix

    • Indeed.
      Or, if you want to underline the misery of it all:
      Users Still Submit To DRM Content, Media Company Gets To Force Whatever Platform On Them, Picks Windows And The New IE.

  • by qubezz ( 520511 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @08:02PM (#52507505)

    Microsoft Edge was built to take advantage of platform features in Windows 10, including the PlayReady Content Protection and the media engine's Protected Media Path," reports PCWorld. "The company said it is working with the Open Media Alliance to develop next-generation media formats, codecs, and other technologies for UltraHD video, and with chipset companies to develop Enhanced Content Protection that moves the protected media path into peripheral hardware for an even higher level of security, and one that could be used to protect 4K media."

    So essentially, Microsoft, in the pocket of big media, is working against the consumer to manipulate hardware manufacturers into taking control away from users of the data on their own computers. This is not a feature, this is anti-consumer racketeering. There's the headline.

    Regarding the performance, I wouldn't be at all surprised that Microsoft is again leveraging its position on the OS to engage undocumented and secret OS APIs to gain this anticompetitive advantage in the browser.

    • by DaHat ( 247651 )

      IT'S NOT RICO, DAMMIT [popehat.com]

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        With the entire history of Microsoft, RICO applies, because you can point out continual willful violations of the law for profit and flouting courts, plus tax evasion, etc.

        You must not be a bright lawyer if you can't piece shit together like this.

        • by DaHat ( 247651 )

          With the entire history of Microsoft, RICO applies, because you can point out continual willful violations of the law for profit and flouting courts, plus tax evasion, etc.

          From the above link:

          So people on the Internet use "RICO" to sound tough. Do lawyers overuse it too?

          Oh hell yes. And judges hate it. It's overcomplicated and most of the time it adds nothing to the case.

          It's so overused — especially by crazy pro se plaintiffs — and so needless that a lot of federal judges have special RICO ord

          • If it was so easy to piece all of this together under RICO... you'd think someone, somewhere who has been injured by Microsoft due to racketeering would be able to find a bright lawyer who would bring a successful civil suit against them under RICO.

            We've already seen that Microsoft is immune from prosecution when it comes to the big issues; the DoJ found that they had abused their monopoly position in basically every way possible, and then Bush's dog Ashcroft declared that even though we'd found them guilty that there would be no punishment. I presume that it is because they are doing the government's spying work for them.

            Assuming that Microsoft has not violated RICO because no one has successfully taken them to task for it is like assuming that Clint

    • Microsoft, in the pocket of big media, is working against the consumer to manipulate hardware manufacturers into taking control away from users of the data on their own computers. This is not a feature, this is anti-consumer racketeering.

      What consumers want is AAA content for their 4K UHD sets, which are becoming very affordable in all screen sizes.

      That content could be distributed through a universal and general-purpose web browser, like Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Opera. But chances are good that won't happen because the geek can't get it through his head that it isn't going to happen without sophisticated content protection.

      That leaves the field wide open to the smart TV with its suite of 4K apps, the 4K Blu-Ray player, the next generat

      • by stdarg ( 456557 )

        smart TV with its suite of 4K apps

        I don't think anybody likes smart TVs with apps. They're always soooo slooooow it's insufferable.

        The little devices like Fire TV sticks and Chromecasts are much better.

        That said, people with a little bit of tech savvy are going more and more to PC solutions these days... I had a computer hooked up to my TV 15 years ago, but now my brother in law has one, several of my friends have them, and my mom wants one. These are all people who tried the special purpose devices and found them too slow... they're fine f

      • by ADRA ( 37398 )

        Which consumers? Even in my tech circles, 4k has a big meh written all over it. Unless you get a TV the size of a projector and watch it uncomfortably close, most people just won't care, even if they could see the odd pixels (which is unlikely).

    • Microsoft won't be subject to another anti-trust lawsuit because they pay their 'bills', donating to politicians.
      Antitrust lawsuits are almost always political tools.
  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @09:08PM (#52507715)
    So where is the link to download and install Edge for my Android device? Or my friends iPhone? My customer's Mac? or my neckbeard brother's Linux box? I still use a Windows machine but more and more people are consuming most of their content on a mobile device. If I can't get Edge on the device it will never get the traction IE did.
    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      So where is the link to download and install Edge for my Android device?

      Depending on which Android device you have, just use the native Netflix app. Nexus Player, Amazon Fire TV, and Nvidia Shield can all do 1080p Netflix.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      So where is the link to download and install Edge for my Android device? Or my friends iPhone?

      I assume the Netflix app for these platforms uses the platforms's native DRM.

      My customer's Mac?

      Edge for Mac [microsoft.com]

      or my neckbeard brother's Linux box?

      Edge for Linux [microsoft.com]

  • for an even higher level of security

    Security for who? Not for the people actually making content, not for the customers, not for netflix... Ah, I have it on the tip of my tongue... who's increasing security by screwing over everyone involved again?
    Joking aside, most people will not care about "why" only Edge will support 1080p, because most people are not into technical stuff. However, a fair amount of people turns to their somewhat geeky relative/friend when some question arise; and those will know that the only reason for Edge to support

    • Non-geeks simply won't care. They use a roku or apple tv if that.

    • Security for who? Not for the people actually making content

      It's for the studios that pay the wages* of "the people actually making content". If a studio wanted to allow Netflix to stream one of its films or TV series in 1080p without needing Edge, it could choose not to include a Protected Media Path requirement in its license of the film to Netflix. Reportedly some Netflix original series are this way.

      * An hourly rate is harder to depress with "Hollywood accounting" than a percentage.

  • I don't watch Netflix on my laptop much. We have some tablets in the family for private viewing and TVs for shared movies. None of those devices run windows, but as I understand there is a dedicated app if we did have a Windows tablet.

    I also don't browse the web for 10 hours non-stop because I have a job and a life, so battery differences will not have that much impact on me.

    So, rather than beating around the bush, why doesn't Microsoft explain how Edge is going to be better for browsing the web. My pet pee

  • Microsoft is "working with the Open Media Alliance" AND at the same time working with chipset companies "to develop Enhanced Content Protection".

    Maybe it's just me, but those two things seem diametrically opposed.

  • How is Opera part of the "big four" with it's 2% market share? Edge, for that matter, isn't far ahead.

  • Other than Netflix gimped their web service so that other browsers are delivered lower resolution content. All browsers are capable of hardware accelerated video playback and all of them should be capable of 1080p output providing the hardware is up to it.
  • A $40 (or less on sale) Fire TV Stick will play at 1080p. And it plays I think literally everything I want to play since you can sideload Kodi, and I have. And it doesn't tie up my PC while it's doing it; I can do something else with my PC while Netflix is being watched, with me not being the only one in the household.

    What percentage of people are actually watching Netflix in a browser?

  • Listen just because MS renamed Internet Explorer does not mean that it isn't still Internet Explorer. Heck, the summary even admits it by calling Edge one of the "Big Four" browsers. The only way Edge qualifies as one of the big four is if you consider it the next version of Internet Explorer. If you consider it a separate browser it is number 5 (behind, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari).
  • Follow the money (Score:5, Informative)

    by gumpish ( 682245 ) on Thursday July 14, 2016 @10:40AM (#52510369) Journal

    Remember that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sits on Microsoft's board of directors.

The following statement is not true. The previous statement is true.

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