In a move that the more astute members of the video-watching populace have been waiting for, Netflix announced its plans to finally leave Microsoft Silverlight behind, and move on over to HTML5 and also modern times.
Netflix uses Silverlight, Microsoft’s answer to Flash, to stream videos across the web to both Windows and OS X computers. Unfortunately, as many Linux users lament, Silverlight was one of the barriers preventing Netflix from running on the Linux platform. Sure, you could run it through Wine, but that would certainly be overkill just to play half of that episode of West Wing so you have something to watch while you quickly eat dinner. Netflix cited Microsoft’s closure of Silverlight 5 in 2021 (currently eight years away) as the reason why it’s looking for a new platform. However, we all secretly know it’s because Silverlight was always somewhat of a silly choice, and Netflix now has a legitimate reason to leave it behind without burning a bridge withMicrosoft.
Another benefit of Netflix switching is that HTML5 isn’t a browser plugin, whereas Silverlight is. It’s not difficult to install a browser plugin, but they can create extra issues, such as certain browsers not supporting them, or some people believing they’re a security risk.
The first implementation of HTML5 Netflix will come in Chrome OS, and the company has been testing it on the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook. After they deem Chromebook testing a success, they will then move to the big boys of Windows and OS X.
As for Linux, Silverlight wasn’t the only barrier. Netflix uses a proprietary DRM that runs on Windows and OS X, but not Linux. So, it’s not yet clear if this move to HTML5 will remove the need to run Netflix in Wine. If the user comments responding to Netflix’s announcement are any indication, though, people sure want to see Netflix come to Linux.