So I finally received my USB drive with 4K video of “Timescapes movie” encoded with H.264. Windows 8 comes with H.264 codec pre-installed and it had no trouble playing the movie in all downloadable resolutions: 480p, 720p, 1080p and even 1440p. With in terms of 1440p playback (which is native resolution of my monitor) it actually outdid Windows 7 that choked on the file. I was expecting 4K version to play as well but as it turns out it would not be.
Metro style video player errored out with status code 0xc00d11cd (0xc00d36b4) which normally means a missing codec. Desktop Media Player went a bit further. It opened the file but played only the audio-stream.
Media Player Classic Home Cinema (with all its built-in codecs) to the rescue! it was able to play to movie without any hiccups while utilizing only 25% of the CPU.
Perhaps this is something that will get fixed in the final release of Windows 8. Who knows…