FeaturesTech News

Microsoft video upscaling tech to improve blurry old video quality

Microsoft has launched Video Super Resolution (VSR), an “experimental” function for its Edge web browser that upscales low-quality videos using machine learning. Microsoft’s VSR technology, which was announced on the Edge Insiders blog, can “eliminate blocky compression artefacts” and enhance text readability for videos on websites like YouTube. The feature is still being tested, and only half of Microsoft’s Insider program participants using Edge’s Canary channel may access it.

There are a few requirements if you wish to try it for yourself: Microsoft VSR only supports video resolutions of 720p or lower (as long as the video’s height and width are greater than 192 pixels), and it does not support digital rights management (DRM) software like PlayReady or Widevine, which prevents frames from being processed by the browser. Given that most well-known streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max, all use DRM technology for copyright protection, that particular restriction might impact the type of content, you can upscale using the function.

Moreover, a graphics card from the RTX 20-, 30-, or 40-series from Nvidia or a GPU from the AMD Radeon series from the RX5700 to the RX7800 must be installed on the device running Microsoft VSR. Its support also includes gaming laptops with discrete versions of these supported GPUs; however, to manually force Edge to use the discrete GPU in the laptop, users will need to make changes to Windows settings. Microsoft has not mentioned if VSR can upgrade 720p resolutions to full HD 1080p.

For Edge users, this is not the first time an upscaling video option has been introduced. Microsoft unveiled Clarity Boost spatial upscaling for Xbox Cloud Gaming in June to improve the clarity and sharpness of Xbox games broadcast on the Edge browser.

Microsoft’s VSR technology is by no means original. Similarly, Intel is working on a Chromium-based browser video upscaling functionality. Since 2019, Nvidia has made an early version of RTX Super Resolution (RTX VSR), its own AI upscaling engine, available on Shield TV devices. Since then, RTX Super Resolution—only available on computers with GeForce RTX 40- and 30-series GPUs—has made its way to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers. Using Super Resolution while playing a game or using creative GPU software may result in a “slight loss in performance,” according to Nvidia.

Microsoft has not highlighted any negative effects on VSR performance. We’ve sought to clarify, and if we hear back, we’ll revise this story.