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Windows 10 gets adaptive video streaming support for Spartan web browser

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that Windows 10's web browser supports HLS and DASH adaptive bitrate streaming protocols.

If you have never heard of either, no worries. The consumer version is that the browser in Windows 10 will let you stream video from various websites using a method where the stream is adjusted dynamically based on current data connections.

As a counter example, you can think of how on YouTube you can force the video player to stream back at 1080p, regardless of your connection. The result is you may get 1080p playback, but lots of buffering and stuttering. HLS and DASH are adaptive, so they can adjust the video quality dynamically, much like how Netflix currently streams video (in fact, Netflix endorses DASH).

As noted on the IEBlog:

"Web-delivered video content has rapidly shifted away from downloading and playing a single video file to an adaptive approach designed to support a broad array of network conditions. Unlike playback of a single file, adaptive streaming allows Web developers to host multiple bitrate versions of a single video on their server, and then author an intelligent client that dynamically switches between these versions during playback. This allows the client to react to changing network and device conditions in order to provide the best possible experience for the user."

With Microsoft's new EdgeHTML rendering engine, currently found in the Windows 10 Technical Preview and coming to the Spartan browser, native support for DASH and HLS should go a long way for media streaming capability. The more HTML5 standards are supported, the merrier.

Try it out now

The IEBlog notes that you can use the about:flag trick to enable the Experimental Web Platform aka EdgeHTML engine right now in Windows 10. We highlighted this trick the other day, and if you have it enabled, you can then go to various sites to see this adaptive bitrate streaming in action at these websites:

Overall, it is great to see how the next generation browser for Windows 10 will support more universal web standards and media. If you want a more technical breakdown of this subject material, make sure you head to the IEBlog to get the full story.

Source: IEBlog (opens in new tab)

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

51 Comments
  • Doesn't YouTube do this when you put the quality on Auto?
  • It can, sure. I was using the setting the stream as a counter example for illustrative purposes.
  • I have been using the about flags experimental browser, just had a freeze yesterday, it took me a good 10 minutes to sort, all is good so far touch wood
  • Hey Dan. My question is then... Since it seems like there is a lot of HTML 5 love going on with windows 10... Could there hopefully eventually be some official youtube app in the Window's 10 future?????
  • but not all the videos sites are youtube! m glad ms cares about porn watching customers too :3
  • Better watch in HD..Can see everything clearly then..!!
  • Adaptive buffering?
  • If I remember correctly, Silverlight was the first to use this technology which is why Netflix, Amazon adapted Silverlight for their streaming solutions among other things.
  • Hopefully this implementation is superior to YouTube's. No matter how fast your internet connection, their "auto" setting always seems to default to something like 240p or 360p at first. In longer videos, it will eventually sample enough of the available bandwidth to bump up to a full 1080p, but that effectively means that most videos running around a minute in length get viewed at super low res.
  • I've worked with it. I can verify it is better than YouTube generally speaking. Also, agree Silverlight was a game changer with the IIS adaptive streaming. Many people like to poke fun at Silverlight, but have enjoyed Netflix streaming for years because of it. Also last I read both Google and Microsoft said they'd support the tech, MPEG-DASH, and Apple backtracked on support for it. It'll be interesting to see how much it really takes off and if it can be the game changer it hopes to be.
  • Wonder if it will support project free tv, sports streaming, or thecomedynetwork.ca on phones.
  • Can I use W10 in my main PC?? I Just want to know about software support
  • If you have to ask, then you shouldn't.
    For all intents and purposes on the software side of things not a whole lot is changing. If a program (or driver) works in win8 then there is a very good chance that it will work in Win10. The modern apps APIs are getting a major overhaul so apps in the store have been hit-or-miss with many exhibiting weird problems (for example: Netflix app works, but subtitles don't, or the MS games like solitare work, but often crash or hang), so don't expect much on that front.
    If you are going to update be sure to do a full system backup image to an external drive first, and then I would suggest doing a fresh install of the new OS rather than an upgrade. Be sure you know where to get updated drivers for your system as well. Overall it works well enough that I am having few issues running it native on my main laptop and desktop... but with future updates and changes there may be rough waters between now and the final release date.
  • Kaspersky internet security 2015 isn't compatible with W10.
  • This is a big gain. More online sites will work on IE mobile too (with W10)
  • Will or support flash streaming sites
  • Yes! A big win for MS!
  • Awesome! I should hopefully stopped getting whatsapp messages from family saying why everything  is constantly buffering... on the downside that would probably replaced by why has the video quality dropped so drastically???? lol. Everyone streams in my house, unfortunately I can't afford to change the Sky Hub with a AC router and upgrade everyone to AC... let alone to N. Bloody bills lol...  
  • Microsoft demonstrated this over a decade ago with IIS smooth streaming and silverlight.  It took that long for a standard to develop?  
  • Really..??
  • This is the standard used by Apple... So most sites support this one. HLS
  • It's just sad how politicized standards bodies even are against Microsoft. 
  • I guess since they couldn't emulate, they became envious instead.
  • Google and Microsoft are "all in" on dash. Apple is still holding out, just because they are apple. DASH is the future for everyone except apple, and I mean everyone. In the coming years you'll see it on all phones, PCs and even smart TVs. It was designed with the best of smooth streaming (Silverlight), adobe and HLS in mind.
  • Any news on if Spartan can run .webm files yet its quite annoying when i my friends send me 4chan links and i have to download the file to be able to watch it
  • People use .webm files?  Its one of the worst modern formats you can use.
  • 4chan uses them as .gif replacement.
  • Imgur now uses WebM too.
  • Why do so many people drink the Google kool-aid?  What's the point?
  • I can't figure out out either
  • I think it's a matter of saving bandwidth and space for 4chan and Imgur. Both regularly are used for the uploading of large GIF animations, which is even less suitable a format than WebM. While other video formats are superior, converting a 10mb GIF results in about a 700kb WebM, content depending, which saves a lot of space and bandwith when viewed several thousand times.
  • You would think they would use the more widely supported and relatively browser agnostic h265, or even the older h264, over using a format that enforces a browser bias.
  • Poor me, because of my connection, I mostly use 360p to stream YouTube videos. 480p buffers occasionally which I do not like. Lower than 360p is fast but doesn't look good even on a 4-inch device.
  • Lucky you, i watch on 240p
  • Really? You should get a better connection, it costs next to nothing anyways. (100mbps for about 20$ a month)
  • I want to but unfortunately I don't live in the US. In India, connection rates are quite high. ~2mbps for $20 a month.
  • Lol I pay $27(1700rs) for 50mbps dl & 10mbps ul... And its the most expensive plan of my ISP..And I had downloaded 500GB once in a single week lol.. You can guess where I live (Mumbai)..and cheapest 50mbps plan is about $10... (Hathway ISP). 1080 & 2160p are usually smooth. Although 4k may buffer sometimes
  • I hate adaptive streaming. Ends up buffering more every time it thinks it can go to a higher resolution. Technology needs work IMO.
  • I hate DASH. I avoid it wherever possible. In fact, I use an extension to forcibly disable it in Youtube. So, yeah. Don't really care for this.
  • They have to implement webcam video support
  • Oh, wonderful, even more retarded stuttering. I miss the days when I could leave Youtube open and have the entire video buffered once I finally got around to watching. The current buffering system flat-out DOESN'T WORK in many situations. I get pissed off whenever the video decides to buffer the next three minutes, then throws them away, causes my video to stutter for a second, and then rebuffers the EXACT SAME TIME FRAME. And then there's the situations where it refuses to use a higher resolution or moves slow as molasses despite me having a 100mbit connection.   And the worst part?
    It's still one of the BEST platforms out there. Some of the shit that I've seen makes me physically cringe.
  • It's good to know that I'm not the only one. I hate streaming sites even with the 300Mbps connection I have, they always buffer. I prefer the old skool method where you download the video first then watch. Thank goodness for torrents :)
  • if you are annoyed about it, then why do you not download the video and then watch it offline once it's completed? like with Jdownloader. or something better, you put your youtube link on some nice player like PotPlayer and then it will keep buffering so you watch it whenever you want while it is open. Youtube is meeeh, but at least something like Potplayer makes the experience better, you know, you can watch it on top of windows, in a small or big window or easy fullscreen. so I would suggest something like that if you don't want to have more problems. well that's what I sometimes do when I want to watch it on 720p and I want to have it on top if I have to study or playing something or anything. if you want to use a browser it's ok, but I am giving options for your problem because Potplayer wouldn't do what youtube does, and let's you set the quality whatever you want (so auto wouldn't be a problem) and you can fast forward and stuff, give post effects and such, easier.
  • Because I have no idea how compatible external tools are with Youtube. (I will NOT use a tool that doesn't play my videos at 60FPS, because I mostly watch gaming stuff) It also adds another layer of hassle when I just want to lie back and watch a ten minute shoutcast before going to university.   Also, what's the interface of the software like? What kind of software is Potplayer even? Win32 freeware?
  • well it's easy to download from youtube, but using potplayer (or other players that I don't know about) can make it easy since you only copy url, ctrl+U and if you add the "auto paste" option it will do it. and yes, it's win32 app, it's korean. but it got translation from many languages now (it was only korean before but it opened up to the world). I admit downloading videos is boring, but if you are complaining about the buffer and how youtube handles stuff, you can always use external tools to do the job.   http://potplayer.daum.net/ that's the oficial site, but if you want the "beta" (it's 32bits only) but it's updated often you can always get it from here. http://www.videohelp.com/tools/PotPlayer some people and even I say it's better than VLC and MPC-HC. you can see the interface but you can always download others. also you can always remove elements like no frame while playing. or download a simplistic skin it's not hard ot get on deviantart. I use it to even play music from time to time. I don't know if you are going to use it, but if you do, you can always at least test some youtube links and see how it goes. just you need to install some codecs at the end of the install and no problems will happen. I know not many people know Potplayer but I am sure it's like 10 times better than VLC and how close it is (even though it's open source and potplayer is the closed source one)
  • I hope that means there is Native HLS support for WindowsPhone too. Right now you have to use something like "3ivx"(expensive) to support it. This is means that a WHOLE lot of Interweb A/V content will be instantly compatible without having to use 3rd party components!
  • I'm wondering about mobile version if it will support this future, while browsing I can listen to songs on youtube
  • Time to get rid of Flash Player.
  • League of Legends :):):):):):)
  • I am having trouble upgrading from build 9879 to 9926. Please help.
  • Please help me with Win 10 update. My computer getting update for the windows 10. I accepting it. System checking my computer, all fine, then system showing new update  installation. Computer restarting and then I am again see my old Windows 8.1. Like nothing happened. Why upgrading not happening? Anyone got the same problem? Thanks