In a lot of ways, Microsoft is using Windows 10 to catch up to the offerings of others. Nowhere is that more clear than with media and media playback. Its Groove Music service is pretty barebones and so is its Movies & TV app. This summer’s free Windows 10 Upgrade came with a very cool feature that’s been available on other devices, the ability connect or stream to a TV set or set-top box without installing any extra software. Microsoft has taken that feature a bit further with the Windows 10 November Update, adding streaming or what some call casting to the Edge browser.
Streaming from a Windows 10 notebook, desktop, tablet or phone is incredibly easy, provided that you have the right materials on hand.
Here’s how to cast or stream from a Windows 10 notebook, desktop or tablet directly to a television set or set-top box.
Before We Begin
Before you can start streaming from your Windows 10 device, you’ll need some essentials. First, be sure to have the free Windows 10 update installed on your device. This is the same update that Microsoft made available to everyone running Windows 7 and Windows 8 earlier this year.
In addition to that, you’ll want to have the Windows 10 November Update installed if it’s available to you. Only after that update has been installed can you take advantage of the casting features in Microsoft Edge. Check to see if you have the latest update installed by going into the Settings app, selecting System, then selecting About. You’re looking for the build number 1511.
Then there’s the necessary equipment. Your Windows 10 device only acts as transmitter. You’ll need something connected to your display or television set to receive the signal your Windows 10 device is sending out. Microsoft makes its own Wireless Display Adapter that sells for $59.99. Windows 10 will communicate with any receiver that supports DLNA technology. It’s entirely possible that a set-top box or smart television you already have in your home supports DLNA stream technology.
Understanding the Difference Between Casting & Connecting
Windows 10 divides what I’d describe as streaming into two different functions: Casting & Connecting.
Connecting to a device works in the entire operating system and is managed from the Action Center. When connected to a wireless dongle or set-top box, Windows 10 allows you to treat the external display as the only display or extend your desktop to it. You can also do mirroring.
Casting is restricted to the Microsoft Edge browser. It does an exact mirror of whatever is being shown in your browser – provided that the content provider is actively blocking it for content protection reasons. That’s according to Microsoft, which cites services like Hulu as not being compatible.
How to Stream & Cast
Start by connecting your wireless display adapter to your television. Each of these devices have set-up processes of their own. Many of these devices emit their own wireless signal, meaning you don’t have to connect them to your network. Some do require you to connect them to your wireless network. For this example we’re using Microsoft’s Xbox One console, which has a Wireless Display app in testing.
Tap or click on the Action Center button in the Taskbar. If you have Tablet Mode on your device enabled, place your finger on the right edge of your screen and slide it to the left to reveal the Action Center. The Action Center button looks like a message bubble.
Tap or click on Expand in the bottom of the Action Center. Here you’ll get quick links for the most common settings changes for Windows.
Tap or click on Connect. It should be the first button on the left in the second row.
Now select the name of the device you’d like to connect to. If your device is properly configured, it should show up here just fine.
Wait for the connection to begin working. Note that by default devices are told to mirror whatever is on your screen. That can be changed to allow you to treat the other device as another display and more.
Go to the Start Screen and look for Microsoft Edge. You may need to look for it in your list of installed apps under All Apps if you’ve customized Start already and removed it.
Navigate to the site that you would like to cast.
Now tap or click on the three dots in the top-right corner of your display to open the options menu.
Select Cast Media to Device.
Now select which device you’d like to cast to.
That’s it. Good look with casting and streaming from your Windows 10 device. Note that in their current state, both features are pretty buggy, sometimes spectacularly so. Hopefully, Microsoft will move to address those issues sooner rather than later.