SOFTWARE REDEVELOPER Microsoft has announced a list of media streaming features that it will integrate into its upcoming Windows 8 operating system.
The software house said in a post on the Building Windows 8 blog today that its Windows 8 Media Platform will maximise performance and keep media playback fast and responsive by enabling the power of the hardware.
“Video decoding for common media formats will be offloaded to a dedicated hardware subsystem for media,” said Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft’s president of Windows.
“This allows us to significantly lower CPU usage, resulting in smoother video playback and a longer battery life, as the dedicated media hardware is much more efficient than the CPU at media decoding. This improves all scenarios that require video decoding, including playback, transcoding, encoding, and capture scenarios.”
Sinofsky presented a chart in the blog post demonstrating the difference in CPU utilisation between Windows 7 and Windows 8 and how the latter has a much lower rate.
He also announced in the post how the Windows 8 media platform will tackle the issue of latency, where end-to-end delay in communications will be minimised for “near-instant” responses.
“We designed the media platform to support both playback-optimised and communication-optimised scenarios. The media infrastructure can switch between a playback mode (high buffering, more tolerant of varying conditions) and a communications-optimized mode (low delay),” Sanofsky added.
With the news that video streaming, communication and battery life will be improved in Windows 8, Sinofsky said in the blog post that the platform will also support HD cameras to enhance video calling.
“New class drivers will work transparently with applications to provide support for HD video features. We have made significant investments in the media platform to improve pipeline latency, and with added support for H.264 cameras, users will be able to communicate with friends and family in high-fidelity HD video.”
Microsoft said it has also enhanced adaptive bitrate streaming functions, for movies on Youtube for example, by delivering the first few frames of the video at a lower bitrate to improve start-up and seek times, reducing buffering time and increasing responsiveness.