Netflix says it’s dumping Microsoft Silverlight and embracing HTML5, someday

netflixNetflix says it will stop using Microsoft Silverlight’s technology to stream video on Windows PCs and Macs — just as soon as HTML5 video evolves to meet its needs for playing content in the browser without a plugin.

Netflix’s use of Silverlight, Microsoft’s alternative to Adobe Flash, had at one point been a coup for Microsoft, but the web has been moving away from plugins and toward native technologies and standards for delivering content.

In a post on the Netflix Tech Blog, the company said Microsoft’s move to phase out Silverlight by 2021 means Netflix needs to find a replacement “some time within the next 8 years.”  The company cited disadvantages to Silverlight including the need to install the plugin, and incompatibility with browsers including Safari on iOS and Internet Explorer in Metro mode on Windows 8.

“Over the last year, we’ve been collaborating with other industry leaders on three W3C initiatives which are positioned to solve this problem of playing premium video content directly in the browser without the need for browser plugins such as Silverlight,” write Netflix’s Anthony Park and Mark Watson in the post.

Before it can shift to HTML5 video, Netflix says it needs to browser makers to adopt three “HTML5 Premium Video Extensions”, including one that would allow its content to be protected by digital rights management.

The company says it has already started to use some of the extensions in Google’s Chrome browser, and is making plans to test its HTML5 video player on Windows and Mac OS X.

Read the full Netflix post here. Engadget has more on the news.

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    Maybe when they switch to HTML5, they can support Linux as well (since Chrome runs on Linux, as well as Firefox).

  • ChadF

    I wonder how they expect DRM to “securely” work for all the open source browsers, without requiring some certified third party plugin to provide the management.. which is just replacing one plugin with another (well, at least the proprietary MS way would be replaced with a true standard, I guess). Since if the DRM implementation is bundled with the browser then its source could be modified by anyone (well.. anyone with average programming skills) to bypass the protections and/or divert a copy of whatever content is being delivered.

    While having a “web based” interface can be useful, sometimes I wonder why Netflix doesn’t just have a native “player” application for supported OS’s (maybe they did in the early days?). Then they would have full control over the content (within the limits of what end-users can do to alter any application’s behavior). It just seems that too many things are run in a browser “just because”.. like Windows Update. If IE is just going to run a native ActiveX component to download and install updates, then why should I have to run IE to manually check/select updates (being generally the only reason I ever run IE)? Why not just have it _be_ a normal, standalone, application that doesn’t require the browser. Far too much dependency on browsers (IMO) due to “being web based is better” hype.

    • Tim Yen

      Thats spot on, quite a number of products happily announce the UI is web based and don’t realise what that is really saying is the UI is poor. They assume its saying it can be installed only once and run anywhere. But if its a tool only a few people use then why web base it. Whats old is new again and the Thick client will be in vogue again one day along with wide ties and flared jeans.