SKY HAS CONFIRMED that it has no plans to ditch Silverlight as a way of fixing Chrome compatibility in its Sky Go and Now TV services.
Streaming services including BT Sport and Now TV have gone to borksville as Google presses ahead with plans to kill off support for Microsoft Silverlight in its Chrome browser.
The Microsoft runtime depends on an ageing plug-in protocol called Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI), for which Google is currently phasing out support in its browser.
However, Silverlight remains popular with broadcasters owing to its level of encryption and, although the news has been around since November, many are sticking to their guns instead of migrating to HTML5.
In a statement, Sky told The INQUIRER, "We continue to work with Google to find the best way to deliver our content on Google Chrome however there are no immediate plans to switch from the Silverlight player.
We recommend that a customer who previously used Chrome continues watching great Sky content using a different browser or via the range of other supported devices available."
Now TV has also been made available as a standalone app for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
Google's decision has caught many users on the hop, after the plugin was unpublished in Google Chrome 42. The current advice from affected services is to ditch Chrome.
Music download service eMusic has also been affected by the change. A blog post aimed at users erroneously states that "Chrome has decided to no longer support plugins", but that it is "currently working on adapting our service to these changes".
The idea seems to have merit, as Netscape is a browser that has been deprecated since 2008 by everyone except, it seems, the UK Department of Work and Pensions.
Google explained that continuing to support Netscape causes unnecessary lag at a time when demand for faster browsers continues to grow.
Google began removing reliance on NPAPI with newer versions of apps like Google Earth and Google Talk (now Hangouts).
However, sites that rely on Microsoft Silverlight will soon become completely unavailable, including proprietary software for businesses.
Google has also removed support for Flash rendering in YouTube. This has left several big brands, including Sony and Panasonic, unable to offer the service on smart TVs launched as recently as 2012.
We asked Sony why it was not updating customers to the new API that would allow the return of YouTube, but the firm declined to comment, confirming that it will let us know if anything changes.
At present, NPAPI plug-ins are disabled by default in Chrome, also killing a loophole that has allowed Linux users to view Netflix, which Chrome was, by default, unable to render until Chrome version 37.
A workaround for mission-critical apps is being offered through a manual override via enterprise policy, or a flag within hidden browser settings, but full depreciation comes in September 2015 after which migration will be the only way.
"With each step in this transition, we get closer to a safer, more mobile-friendly web," said Justin Schuh, software engineer and plug-in retirement planner at Google.
We asked Microsoft whether it was concerned about the lack of Silverlight support from next autumn.
A spokesperson told us: "Several other browsers, including IE and Firefox, offer an alternative to Chrome that continues to support securely the wide variety of multi-media formats offered on the web."
This suggests that Microsoft has no plans to make changes to Silverlight to return it to Google's good graces, and has committed to the platform until at least 2021, with mentions of implentations in this weeks Microsoft BUILD keynote.
Developers who want to learn more about the end of support for NPAPI can check the Chromium project's depreciation guide. µ
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