When Microsoft announced that Silverlight would be coming to an end in 2021, it gave companies that utilize the video technology less than a decade to gravitate to an alternative. Perhaps the biggest and most prolific user of Silverlight is Netflix, which takes advantage of its “high-quality streaming experience” for Watch Instantly. Today the company announced that in light of Microsoft’s announcement, it will be switching to HTML5 video.
Netflix talks about the reality of video plugins, making specific mentions of browsers that don’t support them (Internet Explorer in Metro Mode, for example), as well as the security risk using plugins can pose. Moving to HTML5 from Silverlight will take care of these two issues, and will open up the ability to watch instant video via the service on a wider range of devices and browsers.
For now, Netflix is waiting to make the switch on what it calls three “premium video extensions”: Media Source Extensions, Encrypted Media Extensions, and Web Cryptography API. The company says it is working with industry leaders, and that these initiatives will be the solution to current issues with delivering video in the absense of a plugin like Silverlight.
The first iteration of this has been pushed out for the Samsung ARM-based Chromebook, which takes advantage of the Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions in Chrome browser to deliver Silverlight-free video content. According to Netflix, Web Cryptography API isn’t in use on the Chromebook yet, instead being replaced with Netflix’s own Pepper Plugin API. The PPAPI plugin will be swapped out with WebCrypto when it is available via Chrome, at which point HTML5 video testing will start for OS X and Windows.