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4K Netflix comes to Windows 10 PCs, but you probably can't use it

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Windows 10

Until now, 4K Netflix streaming has been limited to specific Ultra HD TVs and set top boxes, while the humble PC has lagged behind.

Now, Microsoft has announced Windows 10 users will finally be able to watch shows in glorious 4K on their PCs, but there's a few caveats.

In fact, those caveats will likely mean that you're unable to take advantage of UHD Netflix content on your device.

First of all you need the very latest 7th generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core processor, in your PC – and as of right now there are very few devices that use the chips.

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The requirement means that not even the new Surface Studio, which features a 4,500 x 3,000 display, can stream Netflix in 4K.

You'll also need to make sure you're using Microsoft's Edge browser to watch the higher resolution streams, as well as a 4K montor, as there doesn't seem to be an option to watch 4K on QHD or Full HD screens.

Netflix

That immediately rules out most laptops, as UHD screens are far from ubiquitous on notebooks at this point in time.

Microsoft is using the advent of 4K on PC to promote its Edge browser, and has provided a new blog post where it's trying to entice viewers to make the switch with the tempting offer of watching Gilmore Girls in all its 4K glory.

Related: What is 4K?

We're not sure Gilmore Girls is a good enough reason to invest in an upgrade to a Kaby Lake chip, but it may convince a few users who've been considering an upgrade.

In reality, the requirement for Intel's latest processors is likely down to the fact that the chips support the HDCP 2.2 protocol, which prevents users copying 4K video.

It seems that DRM is behind this very limited UHD-on-PC rollout then, as content providers have strict rules when it comes to 4K playback.

Still, it's a welcome development, and we hope to see full Netflix 4K streaming arrive on the PC (and hopefully Mac) in the very near future.

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Let us know if you've tested out 4K on your PC yet in the comments.

Ian Tucker

November 22, 2016, 12:12 pm

Meanwhile I'm happily watching 4k Youtube on my Skylake CPU in Chrome.

Daniel Hobbs

November 22, 2016, 12:44 pm

I don't have a Skylake CPU.. but my custom built PC is more than capable of 4K media and gaming? So why does Netflix require this? Seems a dumb and outdated thing to do.. guess i'll stick to downloading the 4K media files and just playing it myself.. offline.

Andy Roid

November 22, 2016, 1:22 pm

Try actually reading the article? It explains right there why Netflix requires this

"the requirement for Intel's latest processors is likely down to the fact that the chips support the HDCP 2.2 protocol, which prevents users copying 4K video.
It seems that DRM is behind this very limited UHD-on-PC rollout then, as content providers have strict rules when it comes to 4K playback."

Daniel Hobbs

November 22, 2016, 3:12 pm

I did. Still no reason for it. Considering Prime video does this without Skylake processors being given needed. Hence why it seems a outdated method

Bugblatter

November 22, 2016, 3:44 pm

Because DRM is more important than users actually being able to use the service. Despite the fact that any of us can easily go and download the 4K files without paying Netflix a penny. Yep, smart move there Netflix.

HDCP has a long, disgraceful history in that regard, where early adopters have been left high-and-dry because their very expensive AV equipment doesn't support a new HDCP standard.

Ton

November 23, 2016, 2:30 pm

"as well as a 4K montor, as there doesn't seem to be an option to watch 4K on QHD or Full HD screens" that is not that strange, would be a waste of bandwith

Ton

November 23, 2016, 2:32 pm

yes but i am quite sure that nvidia and amd support this in their latest offerings also, i can understand that they wont let a cpu based hevc do it but they should at least allow those

Prem Desai

November 23, 2016, 6:00 pm

Sheer stupidity. Or laziness.

belfastbiker

November 24, 2016, 12:40 am

Strange. and lazy.

I have a HDCP 2.2 / HDMI 2.0 4K gfx card, game in 4K, using the same screen that plays 4K on Youtube, NetFlix, and Amazon Prime with ease from an inexpensive Amazon box.

Yet to do same through my PC instead, I need to upgrade my quad-core processor to something newer and change my browser?

They're taking the piss.

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