Microsoft now charging for HEVC Video Extensions

If you're looking to extend your PC to be able to play video files in the HEVC format, you may have to shell out a little change. As initially spotted by Michael West on Twitter, Microsoft is charging 99 cents for the extension, which allows you to play the HEVC format in any app.

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Microsoft appears to be directing Windows 10 users to this particular store page when trying to open HEVC files or HEIC images.

However, confusing matters a bit is that, as pointed out by another Twitter user, a separate HEVC Video Extensions listing is available for free. (opens in new tab) The only difference is that this one is listed as "HEVC Video Extensions from Device Manufacturer." Both are from Microsoft, and the descriptions are largely the same.

Presumably, the free version is for PCs that ship from a manufacturer with the necessary hardware for HEVC playback. My Surface Book 2, for example, already had the free extension installed. Still, I was also able to install the free version on my custom-built desktop PC.

It's unclear what the differentiator is between versions here. But, in any case, you can check out both extensions at the Microsoft Store now.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

29 Comments
  • Well, this is pretty sad. Unless HEVC is a proprietary standard and Microsoft has to pay royalties to someone for its integration, it's unacceptable. What next, retroactively charging us for .flac, .mkv and other newly popular formats?
  • It's a standard that does require licensing
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Efficiency_Video_Coding#Patent_licensing
  • Correct and HEVC is a bad standard at that riddled with toxic patent licensing. The Alliance for Open Media of which MS is a part of is building the VP1 codec to get rid of HEVC in the next 2 years.
  • You mean AV1
  • What next...
    They've listed shark007 codecs as malware
  • They are. You should never be installing codec packs in 2018, media players like VLC or MPC have all the codecs baked into the application.
  • Shark was the best back in the day
  • still is best and only option for Media Center 8.1 yet to find better for DTS/Dolby.
  • many codec packs were best in their days... untill the got popular and made money with malwares.
    the only one I know that didn't follow this way is cccp
  • Why not?, the codecs option is more preferable. Let me choose the player for its ui and features, then let me install the decoders for the formats i want. That way any program that wants to play the media can, without having to worry about how.
  • Well, the one from manufacturer is free
    and installs automatically on 7 gen up pc
    you can check to see if it's installed
    By going to Setting/app type HEVC.
  • .flac, .mkv as "newly popular formats" :D You made my day.
  • This is frustrating
  • Sound like it a error i mean why would HEIF images need HEVC code 4k video Encoding.
    And all modern 7 gen up pc Have the HEVC from manufacturer installed
    Setting/app type HEVC
  • Because HEIF relies on HEVC for encoding and the container.
  • I assume it will stay free if I've already installed
  • Yes. I think this is actually targeted at 6 gen and lower
    the name was recently changed for 7 gen and up
    To HEVC from device manufacturer.
  • If you read the descriptions it looks like the difference is that the paid version offers some level of support even on devices that don't have compatible hardware. So if you have compatible hardware, you'd have no reason to buy the paid version it would seem though it would still work but there would have been no reason to buy it in that case. Definitely some clarity is needed here.
  • Yes well if it's a 7 gen and up pc
    you automatically get HEVC from manufacturer.
    If it's lower you will have to purchase it say 6 gen/(980 Ti has decoding for 4k but not encoding for 4k. But think it a error the people were even getting redirect to it if they have HEIF extension installed.
  • A list of 'compatible' hardware would help. I mean, if the hardware is not compatible, how can there be a version for it? A special version for hardware that can't run it? Pretty crazy.
  • If it's Intel 7 gen up/newer GPU (1030 up) has native support
    and will be offered HEVC from device manufacturer.
    This is target at devices that do not having native support
    for 4K encoding: how well it will run is still depend on the hardware
    (6 gen 530) 620 / or couple of with a decent l GPU like/ 980 Ti/970 Ti/ down to a GT 750 GDDR5 should be able to play back 4k fine
  • But if my system has native support built in, why would I need to download this from MS? I already have native support, why do I need Microsoft's solution as well? Both of these downloads have the same description and both claim to work on unsupported systems, which I guess means non-native. I'm still pretty confused as to what's going on here. Talking about 'supported' devices I don't think the CPU matters much as most will use their GPU for visual processing and for example Nvidia cards have had HEVC hardware support since Maxwell came out. Both of these are also listed as working on Mobile too. Does that mean my 950XL has support for this format natively or not? Which do I install for mobile?
  • It's licensing, if the hardware supports it then the device manufacturer will have paid the license fee.
  • If you read both descriptions the $.99 cent one provides encoding capabilities over just decoding. Makes sense to me.
  • The free one also allows for encoding.
  • I have had the original free one on my Spectre X360, and still cannot play HEVC videos from a TrendNet camera. Not sure whose fault that is, but something clearly doesn't work.
  • I think that the paid one is for systems that don't have support for HEVC in hardware i.e. my 2nd gen Core i5. The free one is for people who have systems with a processor that has HEVC built into the hardware therefore the hardware manufacturer would have paid the licensing fee. What is odd is that both the paid and free ones are showing up for everyone.
  • It is just 99 cents. I paid for it and called it a day!
  • Same here, only £0.79 here in the UK so I just paid for it. Curiously though I installed it on my SP4 when it was free though.