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Windows 10: At the Heart of 4K, Ultra HD and Games

We know it and we see it: Ultra HD (a sort of commercial “4K”) is fast arriving as an outright replacement for HD (Full HD), which started to become popular in 2009. The release of Windows 10 will coincide with the availability of the first “Super Blu-ray” or “Ultra Blu-ray” disk drives (who actually knows?) with a capacity of 300 GB, designed by Sony and Panasonic to store these high-speed films. Something planned or a mere coincidence?

With its launch scheduled for late 2015, Windows 10 will find itself at the heart of a new ecosystem that will probably put the PC at risk in many professional offices, not necessarily because of Ultra HD video quality, even if it will open new prospects for Home Cinema, but because of its desktop display in its native resolution of 3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels high – four times the full HD resolution (1920 X 1080).

Why? Because this quality of pixel fineness is getting popular very fast, with prices similar to those of Full HD and because the latter shows its limits of comfort in environments increasingly multimedia, with sophisticated graphical interfaces and tools featuring ever more numerous options/buttons/menus. In many cases it is increasingly necessary to use multi-screen modes, when a single large screen in resolution can easily replace them. If you think about it, a Windows system for screens 4 times larger with the same pixel fineness… wouldn’t it be a treat to immerse yourself in work or in play?

Things will also change in the field of graphics cards with Windows 10: the advent of DirectX 12 presented in preview at the Siggraph in August 2014 will mean that big innovation that may not be available for Windows 7 and Windows 8, but only for Windows 10. An innovation certainly (exclusively?) very game-oriented which has already proven that it can almost double the number of frames displayed per second for a single graphics card, allowing  playing in 4K on a “normal” PC, or almost, because this kind of toy today exceeds £2,000…

Finally, some sources state that H265 is the successor to H264 in Windows 10 for the display of videos in 4K or 8K… To put things in their place, “true 4K” digital cinema displayed in theatres has a resolution of 4096 pixels wide by 2160 high compared with Ultra HD (or “Quad HD” as it is called sometimes), which “only” has 3840 x 2160 pixels – not a great “loss” in absolute terms. Regarding the transition to H265, it will surely be a must, but you should be aware that H264 can handle the resolution and speed of Ultra HD. The advantages of H265 are that it is more recent in terms of design, that it is expected to go beyond 4K and that it has been designed to require only about half the rate per second than H264 – a clear advantage if you consider that Blu-ray Full HD can achieve a speed of 40 Mbps and that it should be basically multiplied by 4 for Ultra HD H264. The CODEC (coder/decoder) of H265 is called HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding).

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About Olivier Pavie

Olivier Pavie est technologue, journaliste et écrivain français, expert en High Tech et systèmes d'information. Il a publié de nombreux ouvrages chez Osman Eyrolles Multimedia, Pearson Education, Campus Press, Peachpit Press et a été traduit en allemand, italien et anglais. Il partage sur le blog Kroll Ontrack les nouveautés technologiques ayant rapport à la récupération de données et aux disques durs ainsi que sa vision de spécialiste sur l'actualité informatique.

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