Netflix 4K coming to a select few PCs

Microsoft has announced that Netflix 4K support is coming to a small number of Windows PCs over on its Windows Blog. Owners of 4K TVs and high-end HTPCs shouldn't get too excited, since this support has some meaningful restrictions.

First, Netflix 4K streaming is supported only on seventh-generation Intel CPUs, more commonly known as Kaby Lake. These chips pack hardware support for the 10-bit HEVC encoding scheme Netflix uses for 4K content, unlike past iGPUs.

Second, high-resolution Netflix will require playback through Microsoft's Edge browser running on the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, something that could limit market appeal, to say the least. The popular Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers do not support Microsoft's PlayReady 3.0 DRM scheme at this time.

According to Ars Technica, Nvidia Pascal GPUs have support for Microsoft's PlayReady 3.0 DRM and have 10-bit HEVC hardware acceleration, but are still not on the support list for Netflix 4K streaming. So far, Kaby Lake chips are only offered in recent laptop releases. Apple's recently updated MacBook Pro laptop line does not include Kaby Lake CPUs, so those running Windows on Apple hardware will apparently have to wait until the next hardware refresh. Desktop Kaby Lake CPUs are expected to arrive in early 2017.

For now, despite the existence of 4K Netflix support on the PC platform, most PC owners will still have to view 4K Netflix content using set-top boxes like Amazon's Fire TV, Roku Premiere, or the Nvidia Shield.

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