Windows 10 / 11 HEVC Video Extension for Free

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Microsoft offers the HEVC Video Extension necessary to play videos from iPhone users on their store, but they often try to charge a dollar for it. Just $0.99, in fact! In many cases, I don’t mind spending a dollar, and I encourage others to do the same. But sometimes you’re just in a pinch and you don’t have your credit card on file, or you aren’t logged in to your normal Microsoft account and it’s just a pain.

Have no fear! Microsoft also provides a link in the Microsoft store where you can download the HEVC Video Extension completely free of charge.

Why are there two, and why does this link exist?

This version of the HEVC Video Extension is paid for by OEMs: Original Equipment Manufacturers. Companies like Dell, HP, and Lenovo give money to Microsoft to have this available for them. If you build your own computer and install Windows on it, legally, you aren’t supposed to use this free version. But my biggest issue is that Microsoft describes this free version as “From Device Manufacturer.” But they don’t specify what devices from which manfacturers. It’s entirely possible that they aren’t only talking about system builders, but other hardware vendors as well. Perhaps your CPU or GPU already included the cost of this license? If Microsoft wants to leave things up to interpretation, then interpret we shall.