HEVC or High Efficiency Video Coding is a popular codec used by companies around the world. Earlier MKV and HEVC codec required a 3rd party media player like VLC to work but Microsoft added the support for both when they launched Windows 10.
Later, for some reasons, Microsoft decided to remove HEVC codec from Windows 10 and opening a file with HEVC directed users to a paid version of HEVC provided by Microsoft. While the codec costs only $0.99, there’s a way to get it for free. Microsoft hid another version of the HEVC codec on the Microsoft Store and it was for device manufacturers to install the codec on their desktops and laptops before shipping them out to customers. To install the codec, follow this link to download HEVC Video Extension and follow this link to download HEIF Image Extension. Both the links will direct you to the Microsoft Store and you can download the codec for free.
To Microsoft’s credit, they did add it back as an add-on which installs when you check for updates after booting the system for the first time. However, this was added in v1809 so it won’t install codec automatically on previous versions of Windows 10. Moreover, in some cases, the installation doesn’t happen automatically so you can use the links to download it for free.