According to the release notes, the new driver resolves a number of issues in Windows 8.1, as well as some Windows 7 bugs. However, the new driver does not cover Bay Trail series products used in many cheap HTPCs and mini-PCs.
In terms of new features, Intel has improved VP9 video playback through partial hardware acceleration (namely in Chrome video playback and Google Hangouts). HEVC decode, used for 4K content, was also improved, with 8-bit and 10-bit support. The driver also brings expanded OpenCL and OpenGL support.
Intel also used the opportunity to talk up new Broadwell parts, promising more battery life, up to 90 minutes in an HD video playback scenario, as well as superior performance in the GPU department, with gains of about 20%.
Not that long ago, Intel’s integrated graphics used to be a joke, but with Ivy Bridge and especially Haswell, Intel’s GPUs have become quite a bit more serious affairs, even in ULV parts. Too bad Iris is still reserved solely for flagship parts – as far as mid-range and entry-level iGPUs are concerned, AMD is still king of the hill.