Microsoft released an AV1 video extension beta app. In the early release, users can use it to play files encoding using AV1, but there may be some performance issues.

For the unfamiliar, AV1 is an up and coming video format created by the Alliance for Open Media. It’s royalty free and designed to replace VP9 while competing with the popular yet expensive HEVC.

Microsoft is a member of the AOM, alongside, Amazon, Google, Intel, Mozilla, Cisco, and Netflix. AOV uses Google’s VP10 as a base while tying in tech from Cisco and Mozilla.

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Quality at a Cost

In general, it promises a smaller file size with better quality. It’s currently implemented in Chrome and Firefox but requires a manual toggle to use. For users with slow internet or data caps, it could help.

However, an analysis by the BBC shows a reduction in bitrate size of 7% for HD video¬†and just 2% for UHD. That’s not life-changing by any means, but it’s worth noting that the paper was created before the official release.

Savings also depend heavily on the type of content being watched. Tests by Netflix found a 25% greater efficiency with AV1 over VP9, at the cost of 4-10x encoding complexity. Facebook saw a huge 45-50% in bitrate savings compared to H.264, and 40% over VP9.

Once installed, Microsoft’s extension should enable playback in relevant apps like Edge and Films & TV. Unfortunately, it’s only available to Insiders right now, but we should see a roll out to more users soon if the tests are successful.

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