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Microsoft removes AC-3 Dolby Digital codec from Windows 11 24H2

Windows 11 24h2 image

Microsoft has published a new support page with details about codec support in Windows 10 and 11. For those unfamiliar, codecs are software bits that make it possible to play different audio and video files on your computer. By default, Microsoft's operating systems come with plenty of pre-built codecs, with more available in the Microsoft Store. However, the upcoming Windows 11 version 24H2 will introduce some changes.

According to the new support page, Windows 11 version 24H2 will remove the AC-3 codec, which is also known as "Dolby Digital" for multi-channel or "surround sound":

Beginning with Windows 11, version 24H2, the AC-3 codec is no longer included with Windows. However, many device manufacturers will pre-install an AC-3 codec. In these cases, you will still be able to play files encoded with the AC-3 audio codec.

There is no word on why Microsoft decided to remove AC-3 from Windows 11 24H2. Also, Microsoft does not say what will happen to AC-3 support when upgrading to version 24H2 from older releases or Windows 10. However, users should not panic—many third-party apps, such as VLC, include AC-3 support.

For reference, here are the codecs bundled with Windows by default:

Video Audio
  • MPEG-4, H.264
  • H.263
  • VC-1
  • Windows Media Video (WMV)
  • DV
  • VP8
  • Motion JPEG
  • MPEG-1, MPEG-2 audio (e.g. MP3, MP2)
  • Advanced Audio Coding (AAC, M4A)
  • Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC)
  • Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC)
  • Waveform (WAV)
  • Windows Media Audio (WMA)
  • 3GP, 3G2
  • Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR)

Additionally, some codecs are available from Microsoft in the store. They include MPEG-2 (MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video formats), HEVC (H.265), VP9, AV1, and Web Media Extension (OGG audio and video, Vorbis, and Theora). Keep in mind that some of them, such as HEVC, are not free.

You can learn more about codec support in Windows 10 and 11 on the official support page. Windows 11 version 24H2 is expected to ship later this year, and it is currently available for public testing in the Release Preview Channel.

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