Video on Edge is better on battery life and higher quality, Microsoft claims

Kareem Anderson

Microsoft is at it again, tempting Windows 10 users to try out the built-in browser, Edge. This time around, Microsoft is touting why its Edge browser is so much better at rendering high-quality video content.

A few weeks ago, the Edge team posted what ended up being, a controversial web browsing comparisons video, in which the Edge browser beat out Chrome, Firefox, and Opera in a side-by-side series of various battery tests. The Edge team explained the win by outlining Windows 10 optimizations aimed at increasing browser performance.

Today, Jerry Smith, Jatinder Mann, and John Simmons from the Windows team explained the details that went into the comparison video and exactly why the Edge browser is much more efficient at handling high-quality video rendering compared to other leading options.

Microsoft Edge has the most power efficient video playback because it was engineered to take advantage of Windows 10 platform features that keep the CPU in low power states during video playback.  It does this by offloading CPU-intensive video processing operations to power efficient peripheral hardware found in modern PCs and mobile devices. This starts with the use of Microsoft DirectX video acceleration (DXVA) to offload decoding of compressed video.  For rendering, Microsoft Edge also works with Multiplane overlay display hardware and sophisticated graphics and UI compositing features to offload video rendering operations. This significantly reduces memory bandwidth required for video processing and compositing at the display.

CPU management in the Windows 10 media stack keeps the CPU running in the lowest power states possible, without compromising UI responsiveness.  It is also able to run the display at lower refresh rates during full-screen playback of film-based content.  This saves power by reducing memory bandwidth and improves the quality of film playback by reducing video judder caused by the conversion of the film frame rate (24 Hz, for example) on displays running at 60 Hz.  And Microsoft Edge also takes advantage of a feature of the Windows 10 audio stack to offload audio stream processing from the main CPU to dedicated power-efficient audio processing hardware.

Power savings from these features are available to other browsers, but it requires other browser vendors to optimize performance on Windows devices, while Microsoft Edge was designed to provide these power savings innately.  And to be clear, the power difference playing higher quality content, like 1080p, becomes even greater.  Tight integration with Windows media, graphics, and composition stacks allows Microsoft Edge to render the highest quality content with minimal power draw.

Battery Life comparison
Battery Life comparison

The three continue describing other benefits of video rendering on Edge that include higher resolution and bitrate output as well as content owners needing to consider DRM options going forward. Microsoft’s Edge browser leverages built-in Windows 10 features such as PlayReady Content Protection and media engine’s Protected Media Path, where Chrome and Opera use Widevine.

Despite the dwindling usage share, the Edge team appears confident in their work and look to continue developing standards compliant internet browsing experiences with a few Windows 10 flares of innovation tossed in the mix.

In the Alliance for Open Media, Microsoft and other leading internet companies are developing next-generation media formats, codecs and other technologies for UltraHD video.

Perhaps Microsoft’s Edge can unseat Chrome in a similar fashion the way Chrome dethroned Internet Explorer recently, by offering a fast, clean and reliable internet browsing experience compared to the ever-increasing bloat that is becoming Google’s Chrome browser.