The folks over at Microsoft have outlined and explained a list of features they are integrating into their upcoming Windows 8 platform and as far as media and streaming is concerned, the company is aiming to give users the best. With the media platform for Windows 8, Microsoft has planned on maximizing performance by keeping media playback fast and responsive by enabling the power of the hardware. One of the main aspects they are considering is to get better battery life or reduce power consumption by having efficient video decoding. This allows for lower CPU usage, smoother video playback and a better battery life as, their official blog explains, the dedicated media hardware is more efficient than the CPU at media decoding. The company also showcased a chart where the difference in CPU utilization between Windows 7 and Windows 8 was mapped and Windows 8 had a much lower rate than Win 7, which is a worthy improvement. 

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The next thing addressed by Windows 8 is latency. Basically latency is end to end delay and comes into effect during communication, where near instant responses are expected. Latency comes into effect during streaming and buffering and the lower the latency, the lesser the glitches during video playback. Win 8 enables a low latency for both playback and communication related scenarios. Win 8 will also support HD cameras to enhance the video communication experience. The OS by default will support HD cameras that will enable a consistent, high quality, hardware accelerated media consumption for PCs designed for Windows 8. Stereo 3D will be supported on DirectX 10 and higher GPUs with compatible drivers. Naturally, a stereo 3D compatible display will be required for that. 

Another topic that was touched upon was adaptive bitrate streaming. Basically adaptive bitrate streaming is useful at the user level as it gives a smooth, lag free responsive video playback experience. The downside is that quality may be variable, but lag, glitches and loading times are minimized with adaptive bitrate streaming. Take for example, streaming videos via YouTube – startup and seek times can be improved if the first few frames are delivered at a lower bitrate to reduce buffering time and increase responsiveness. If the network or device conditions suffer a fluctuation, then the PC negotiates a lower (or higher) bitrate to minimize buffering or increase the quality of the video.

A couple of more features and improvements are being added to Windows 8 and if you want to read the full list, head over to the MSDN blog out here.

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