Netflix 4K streaming is finally heading to Windows PCs this week. While a number of TVs and set-top-boxes already support 4K Netflix streams, the PC has largely been left out of the high-quality streams due to piracy fears. Netflix is now supporting 4K streaming through Microsoft’s Edge browser, but you’ll need a new PC to actually make use of it. Netflix is only supporting 7th generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core processors, and there aren’t many laptops that actually support both the 4K display required and the new Intel processors.
As a result, Microsoft is using the 4K Netflix support as a marketing effort for its Edge browser and to encourage people to upgrade their hardware to watch new episodes of the Gilmore Girls. It all might seem like a bit of a con, but it’s largely the fault of DRM requirements from Hollywood studios and TV networks. Content providers have strict controls for 4K playback, so that streams can’t be captured and redistributed illegally.
The latest hardware decryption features simply aren’t available on older Intel processors, and the new Kaby Lake chips now support 10-bit HEVC, a popular 4K video codec. So if you don’t have a new PC, you’ll have to wait until you need a hardware upgrade before you’ll be watching Netflix in 4K. Or, just buy a streaming stick like the Chromecast Ultra or the latest Roku to take advantage of Netflix in 4K.