We’ve heard requests from many of our customers to support additional open-source formats in order to access a broader set of content on the web. To address this, we recently added support for the WebM container format and the VP9 and Opus codecs on supported hardware.
Today, we’re excited to announce a new mechanism which will allow our customers to add more formats on demand and increase our agility to add new formats in the future: Media Extensions. Alongside this mechanism, we’re releasing the Web Media Extensions package to the Microsoft Store as a free Media Extension for Microsoft Edge.
Media on the web has been evolving at a furious rate for the last few years. Adaptive video streaming is now common, providing a simpler mechanism for professional-quality video under changing network and device conditions; HTML5 Premium Media provides the tools for interoperable, plugin-free protected media; plugin-free video and audio conferencing is now routine with tools like WebRTC and ORTC.
We’re proud to be at the leading edge of these features, providing a modern set of capabilities with more efficient and higher quality video in Microsoft Edge. At the same time, we’re always looking to make sure Microsoft Edge meets the needs of our customers and web developers alike, and to provide a seamless playback experience on the web. The rapid growth in media capabilities has naturally resulted in a need to support more media formats in web browsers.
Media Extensions are Media Foundation components designed to extend the core Windows platform and enable Windows apps including Microsoft Edge to support an ever-increasing range of formats. Media Extensions, much like browser extensions, allow customers to extend their device beyond the core experience shipped as part of Windows 10. It also allows the developers of media technologies to update and enhance media components independently of the Windows 10 release schedule. This allows us to work with the community to deliver high quality, interoperable codecs to Edge customers quickly and reliably.
The Web Media Extensions Package
The Web Media Extensions package adds support for the open source OGG container and the Theora and Vorbis codecs, and it expands support for WebM VP9 to work with Theora in simple video elements. Our support for these formats is based on proven implementations from the well-known FFmpeg codecs using the FFmpeg Interop library. We expect this set of formats to be useful for enthusiasts and customers with specific format needs and we’re excited to bring support for these FFmpeg formats to Microsoft Edge!
Our initial release of the Web Media Extension package is focused on supporting these developers and customers who know they need support for these formats – the seekers and enthusiasts on the web. In the spirit of flighting, this will allow us to learn and improve based on your feedback before we expand support to the broader range of Edge customers on the market today. Long-term, we expect to expand distribution of the Web Media Extension package to all Windows 10 devices so that these formats become a trusted and reliable part of the web platform available to developers.
Developers and customers can get started with these new formats in Microsoft Edge by simply installing the Web Media Extension Package from the Microsoft Store. You can also find the package under the Microsoft Edge Extensions collection in the store. This package extends the base media platform in Windows, so the formats will be available to Windows apps and Microsoft Edge with no further action from the user.
We encourage you to install the extension and try it out today! Going forward, we intend to expand distribution, release more formats as Extensions and work with third parties on new formats for Microsoft Edge – your usage will help validate this approach and help us identify potential issues as we evaluate opportunities to provide these capabilities to our customers.
We’re passionate about providing a high-quality, interoperable media experience in Microsoft Edge. This extension package is a first step forward broadening Microsoft Edge’s playback capabilities while providing new mechanisms for us to deliver expanded support in response to the diverse needs of customers, devices, and different browsing contexts. We look forward to hearing your feedback as we work with the community to move our media platform forward!
— David Mebane, Senior Program Manager, Windows Media Platform
— Jerry Smith, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Edge