Microsoft has unveiled Video Super Resolution (VSR) — an “experimental” video upscaling feature for its Edge web browser that uses machine learning to increase the resolution of low-quality video. Announced on the Edge Insiders blog, Microsoft’s VSR technology can “remove blocky compression artifacts” and improve text clarity for videos on platforms such as YouTube. The feature is still in testing and availability is currently restricted to half of the users running the Canary channel of Edge in Microsoft’s Insider program.
If you want to try it for yourself, there are a few stipulations: Microsoft VSR will only work on video resolutions of 720p or lower (provided both the height and width of the video exceeds 192 pixels), and the video itself can’t be protected with digital rights management (DRM) technology like PlayReady or Widevine, which makes frames inaccessible to the browser for processing. That particular restriction could impact what content you can upscale with the feature, as most popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max all leverage DRM tech for copyright protection.
Videos must be 720p or lower and cannot be protected by DRM copyright technology
The device running Microsoft VSR must also contain either an Nvidia RTX 20- / 30- / 40- series graphics card or an AMD Radeon series GPU from the RX5700 through to the RX7800. This support also extends to gaming laptops running discrete versions of these supported GPUs; however, the device must be plugged into a power source, and users will need to adjust their Windows settings to manually force Edge to run on the laptop’s discrete GPU. Microsoft has not mentioned if VSR can boost 720p resolutions to full HD 1080p.
This isn’t the first video upscaling feature to arrive for Edge users. In June last year, Microsoft introduced Clarity Boost spatial upscaling for Xbox Cloud Gaming, designed to make Xbox games streamed on the Edge browser appear clearer and sharper.
Microsoft’s VSR tech is also by no means unique. Intel is similarly developing a video upscaling feature for Chromium-based browsers, and Nvidia has offered an early version of RTX Super Resolution (RTX VSR) — the company’s own AI upscaling technology — on Shield TV devices since 2019. That tech has been well received, and RTX Super Resolution has since rolled out to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers, albeit restricted to PCs equipped with GeForce RTX 40- and 30-series GPUs. Nvidia also disclosed that Super Resolution may cause a “slight reduction in performance” if used while playing a game or running GPU-reliant creative apps, though this issue isn’t exclusive to Nvidia’s upscaling tech.
“Video Super Resolution is an experimental feature in Edge that leverages the power of the GPU to upscale video content. Since, like games, it uses the GPU, there may be impacts on gaming performance if both scenarios are done at the same time,” said Caitlin Roulston, Communications Director at Microsoft to The Verge. “The Microsoft Edge team is always listening to feedback from users and will continue to refine this feature while optimizing for performance as we move toward general release.”
Update, March 8th 1.10PM ET: Updated article with the response from Microsoft regarding VSR’s potential impact on GPU performance.