Windows 8: Improved Video Decoding Efficiency

One of the shortcomings of Windows 8 in comparison to some editions of its predecessors is the lack of native DVD playback support. This may not be a big issue to the majority of users, who either never watch movies on the computer, or use third party applications instead that allow them to playback DVDs, Blu-Rays and other discs. If you until now relied on Windows for that though, you will be in for a surprise (check out VLC Media Player for instance, a free program that supports DVD media playback).

Not everything turns south though when it comes to media playback in Windows 8. Microsoft today revealed that the company managed to improve the system’s video decoding efficiency by a  lot. One of the most important advancements is a reduction in cpu utilization for video playback and webcam capture previews.

windows 8 video playback

The figure above compares the average cpu utilization between Windows 7 and Wndows 8 when playing back 720p VC1/H.264 video clips and webcam capture previews. If the values are correct, Windows 8 uses less than half the cpu cycles that Windows 7 uses to play back the same videos or when using the webcam. It is likely that low-end users will benefit the most from the efficiency optimizations.

Another improvement that Windows 8 users will benefit from is a power consumption reduction when audio contents are played on the system. Again something that mobile users benefit from thanks to a longer battery life in these situations.

Microsoft lastly has also posted a table with audio and video formats that Metro apps can make use of. Please note that some of the formats, codecs and components are only available in the Windows 8 Media Center Pack or Windows 8 Pro Pack.

  • Formats: Mpeg-4, ASF, Mpeg-2 PS, Mpeg-2 TS, 3GPP, 3GPP2, Avi, Mp3, AAC LATM, AAC LOAS, ADTS, WAV
  • Codecs or components: H.264, H.263, Motion JPEG, Mpeg-1, Mpeg-2, Mpeg-4, VC-1, WMV 7,8,9 DV, Raw (NV12, YUY2, RGB32), AAC, HE-AAC, Dolby Digital (non-disc), Dolby-Digital Plus (non-disc), MP3, WMA, Mpeg-1 Layer I and II, Mpeg-2, ULAWm PCM, ADPCM.


Further information about Windows 8’s as a media platform are available on the Building Windows 8 blog.

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