Netflix Yells 'Cut' On Using Microsoft Silverlight For Development

Netflix Monday disclosed plans to expand its use of HTML5 to develop software that enables its instant video streaming service. Netflix's move will reduce the company's reliance on Silverlight, a product that Microsoft has already halted major development on and will stop supporting altogether in eight years.

Silverlight, launched in 2007, was Microsoft's effort to compete with Adobe Flash and other technologies for developing rich media content and applications for the Web. But Silverlight, offered as a Web browser plug-in, never really caught on in the marketplace.

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Microsoft recently said that Silverlight 5, released in December 2011, would be the last major edition of the product. Microsoft will continue to provide updates to the Silverlight runtime and Silverlight SDK products. The Redmond, Wash., company released its most recent update Jan. 25.

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Netflix currently uses Silverlight to deliver streaming video to Web browsers on PCs and Macs. The company was one of Silverlight's most high-profile users and its decision to move to HTML5 is yet another blow to Silverlight's fortunes.

In a blog post Monday Anthony Park, Netflix engineering director, and Mark Watson, director of streaming standards, outlined the company's HTML5 development plans. "Since Microsoft announced the end-of-life of Silverlight 5 in 2021, we need to find a replacement some time within the next 8 years," they wrote.

They detailed three W3C initiatives Netflix participates in to develop software for playing video content directly within a browser without the need to download and install a plug-in, as Silverlight requires. Those include development of media source extensions, encrypted media extensions, and Web cryptography API specifications.