Microsoft pushes forward with HTML5 and premium media support in the Edge browser

Jonny Caldwell

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft is moving forward quickly with its HTML5 compatibility with the new Edge browser. HTML5, in contrast with web plugins like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, is faster and has matured to be just as capable as any other system. HTML5 doesn’t need to be installed or downloaded to a browser either—it works right out of the box, as long as the browser supports HTML5, of course.

Besides Microsoft’s movement towards HTML5, the company is also operating towards more secure and integrated extension and plugin systems, in some ways by removing ActiveX from the Microsoft Edge browser. Edge users should enjoy the changes Microsoft is making, as faster and more streamlined experiences are becoming normal in today’s browsing market.

So how was this sudden change by all corners of the market made possible? Well, a trend for plug-in free media has surely been made possible by a few new movements, such as movement from W3C to better Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions.

All these solutions and changes allow for great compatibility and interoperability between a vast number of devices and medias, and at the same time reduce costs and increase user friendliness in the technological world. Speeds that have never before been seen will now be possible with these new developments in technology.

If you’d like to know more, you can keep reading. However, it goes into the subject of browser interoperabilities and medias in a slightly more complex manner.

Interoperable Media in Web Browsers

Most are at least slightly familiar with plug-ins like Silverlight, which is meant to allow media to play on multiple different browsers.  Silverlight was all good, however, to work, they had to release versions of the plug-in for every single browser, device and similar. This became quite difficult to manage as the Internet grew in popularity, and some browsers and devices skyrocketed in number.

In effect, these had to be replaced as they became convoluted and slow to develop and run. The replacements of the future medias became DASH, MSE, EME, and CENC, which greatly improved the standard of the overall internet quality. Quite, fortunately, Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge natively support all of these implementations well, and some other major browsers provide MSE and CENC compliant CENC. With these implementations, developers of media can build video web apps with no plugins that are capable of running in vast amounts of devices and browsers, with each MSE/EME built on many different media pipelines and DRM.

Interoperability through plugins tree

Before, DRM systems used proprietary file formats and encryption methods, causing large swathes of content that needed to be manually unlocked by coded compatibility in browsers. All of this content slowed down the flow of usage and caused issues and problems left and right. Fortunately, the Common Encryption(CENC) allows content to be encrypted with universal industry standards with regular compressed file formats, greatly improving quality.

DASH MSE Content and Smooth Video

Content with DASH will come with encoded media files and a manifest reading out information about the files contained. An MSE player will then be able to download the correct files, parse them, and then feed it into the sourceBuffers. Using this method, a high degree of versatility will be possible. However, a website would need to use an MSE player/DASH.js onboard to run it, and this requires some development time/money.

The easier option to this is Native Dash streaming, where the website simply sets the manifest as the source and then allows the browsers built in media streaming service to play the files. This allows a developer to focus on the content rather than playback, making video streaming far more streamlined, such as in Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge.

Contoso Video Website

Also to these developments, some websites with media files in the Smooth video are looking to move to HTML5 based alternatives. To do this, a library would need to be used that can support the current Smooth content without re-encoding. An available library is hasplayer.js, which is based on DASH.js

hasplayer.js has the capability of supporting clear and protected Smooth content with the PlayReady contained on Microsoft Edge. Being client-side, it is faster, and it also has cross-browser support with EME multi-fill support making it quite easy for a browser to be extended to support its DRM.

Finally, you can test the ability for basic Smooth video playback with the Contoso Video Demo Website with this Github Repository.