ON DEMAND VIDEO AND TV SERVICE Netflix has announced that it is dropping Silverlight eight years early and switching to HTML5.
Netflix is wary about the end of support for Microsoft Silverlight in 2021, and is wasting no time in making sure that its users have a glitch-free experience.
In a blog post it explained the move, saying that while Silverlight provides "high quality streaming" it has already lined up a set of HTML5 video extensions to take its place.
"We currently use Microsoft Silverlight to deliver streaming video to web browsers on the PC and Mac. It provides a high-quality streaming experience and lets us easily experiment with improvements to our adaptive streaming algorithms," it said.
"But since Microsoft announced the end of life of Silverlight 5 in 2021 we need to find a replacement some time within the next [eight] years. We'd like to share some progress we've made towards our goal of moving to HTML5 video."
The move will also tackle problems that Netflix Silverlight users can experience. Netflix said that as a browser plugin Silverlight brings with it some problems, including the need for users to download it in the first place.
"For some customers, Netflix might be the only service they use which requires the Silverlight browser plugin. Second, some view browser plugins as a security and privacy risk and choose not to install them or use tools to disable them.
"Third, not all browsers support plugins (eg: Safari on iOS, Internet Explorer in Metro mode on Windows 8), so the ability to use them across a wide range of devices and browsers is becoming increasingly limited," it explained.
"We're interested to solve these problems as we move to our next generation of video playback on the web."
According to the post Netflix has been collaborating on three W3C initiatives that should allow for "premium playback" in the web browser without the need to install plugins like Silverlight. These initiatives are collectively called the "HTML5 Premium Video Extensions".
These extensions, called Media Source Extensions (MSE), Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), and Web Cryptography API (Webcrypto) will let Netflix keep things like Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), customer verification, and encryption and decryption in place.
So far the Google Chrome web browser sees the most benefit, and the applicable Netflix version has two of the video extensions. When the third, which covers home and end user security and verification comes around, Netflix will begin to look at testing all HTML5 extensions on PCs and Macs.
"Webcrypto hasn't been implemented in Chrome yet, so we're using a Netflix-developed PPAPI (Pepper Plugin API) plugin which provides these cryptographic operations for now," it added.
"We will remove this last remaining browser plugin as soon as Webcrypto is available directly in the Chrome browser. At that point, we can begin testing our new HTML5 video player on Windows and OS X." µ
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