Windows 10 will officially support the Free Lossless Audio Codec and offer audiophiles a new, more integrated way of enjoying their music collection. FLAC is a remarkable file format which retains the audio quality from the original source and compresses file sizes by approximately 50-60%.
While the majority of people still listen to MP3 or AAC files, there are uses for this high-fidelity format. For instance, bootlegging and live concerts are often recorded in FLAC and shared across specialist forums. Audio enthusiasts flock to digital music stores like HDtracks for uncompromised, DRM-free FLAC versions of their favorite songs. On a personal note, I have been trading Pink Floyd FLAC oddities and unreleased demos for some time and love to listen to the extra nuances of each live performance. This cannot be achieved with a lossy and heavily altered version of the master track.
The news was unveiled by Gabriel Aul on Twitter, who clarified that any win32 application will be able to natively play FLAC audio. This follows a similar post in November when MKV support was added to the 9860 build of Windows 10. MKV is a container which has the ability to compress large HD content into small file sizes alongside an optional subtitle track. As a result, digital versions of anime programs are often distributed via this method.
The distinct lack of FLAC and MKV compatibility often meant that users downloaded VLC or another third party program to enjoy their preferred format. Given these announcements, it will be interesting to see if many people transition from VLC to the rejuvenated Windows Media Player application in Windows 10, especially seeing how our own tests show Microsoft's built-in player is often much more efficient than its third-party counterparts.