I just wanted to share something useful I have discovered.
Something that has irritated me for a while with the Windows web player is that when I have it set it to Auto quality the screen goes black for several seconds everytime it switches to a different resolution. This is annoying when you have a fluctuating Internet connection like mine - nothing worse than watching a football match and having the thing cut out in the middle of some action because the algorithm has determined that the resolution should change up or down.
I've noticed this on fairly low-spec machines running Intel HD Graphics 5000 and 5200, which hints towards it being an integrated graphics/Intel issue. It doesn't occur on a laptop with a discrete NVidia graphics card.
Anyway, I found a solution in case it helps anyone. Resolution switches are now a fraction of a second for me on these machines and with no apparent decrease in video quality - I certainly can't tell the different between two screenshots I took of a freeze-frame.
The problem seems to relate to when the Video Decoder (which should be Microsoft DVT-DVD Decoder) uses DirectX Video Acceleration (DXVA), which is of course the default.
You can tell this decoder not to use DXVA by adding the following entry to the registry.
I have tested this on Windows 8.1, but I would expect it also to work on Windows 7 and 8 although I haven't tested it.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
If you copy and paste everything between (but not including) the <<<<< and >>>>> above and make it into a .reg file then double clicking on it will add these lines to the registry and disable DXVA for the Microsoft DVT-DVD Decoder.
You can easily reverse this change by editing the ".reg" file you just created and changing the last 0 on the line starting with "DXVA2" to be a 1 and double-clicking on it again. Or manually running "regedit" and making the change directly.
Obviously this will disable DXVA for anything else using this decoder, so if that's a problem for you then this may not be a good solution.
Some folk may remember that in earlier versions of the web player it was possible to disable Hardware Acceleration under the advanced settings, though this option disappeared in a recent update.
However, when disabling Hardware Acceleration via this method it actually used to cause the web player to use a different decoder altogether - one made by Sling - which seemed to result in a softer/lower quality picture. The fix above still means it uses the Microsoft Decoder which I assume is why the picture quality remains the same.
It's possible that folk having audio sync issues who previously used to disable Hardware Acceleration to fix it, but no longer can, may also benefit from the above registry change, or indeed anyone else having issues relating to Hardware Acceleration.