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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.

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