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Uproar Over Netflix's New Instant Viewer 575

Posted by kdawson
from the one-way-beta dept.
almechist writes "Many Netflix customers are up in arms over the new instant-watch player powered by Microsoft's Silverlight. The official Netflix blog is full of complaints from users who decry not only the new player's quality but also the way it's being distributed, with many claiming they were deceived into downloading it. Once you opt for the new player, the old Windows Media based player won't function, not on any computer associated with the account. The new player is supposedly still beta, but NF members are strongly encouraged (some say tricked) by NF into the so-called 'upgrade,' which is permanent — there is no way to opt out. The marked decrease in video quality seen by those who have switched is perhaps not surprising, since the old player could utilize bit streams up to twice as fast as the new one, but this information is nowhere given out by NF. So far NF has been answering all complaints with variations on 'tough luck pal, you're stuck with it,' but many customers are so disgusted they're ready to cancel their NF membership. This could be a public relations disaster in the making for Netflix."
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Uproar Over Netflix's New Instant Viewer

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  • by speedlaw (878924) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:19PM (#27034909) Homepage
    Really. No one wants DRM. The process of taking your computer from you is slow and incremental.
    • by fyrie (604735) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:40PM (#27035107)

      The original player has DRM as well. It uses MS's COPP protection.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:57PM (#27035277) Homepage

      The thing is, this is one use of DRM that I think I might be able to live with: when you're renting content. Most of the things that I believe make DRM inherently unacceptable come from someone else trying to exercise control over something that I purchased and "own".

      • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @10:48PM (#27035641) Homepage

        The thing is, this is one use of DRM that I think I might be able to live with: when you're renting content.

        the problem with DRM is that it turns everything into rented content. Your music, your movies, your video games, and soon to be your applications and your OS. Everybody wants to switch over to a pay per use plan because that's how they figure they'd make the most money.

        • by UCSCTek (806902) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @11:49PM (#27036113)

          Everybody wants to switch over to a pay per use plan because that's how they figure they'd make the most money.

          Which comes from similar logic used by RIAA lawyers when calculating lost revenue: that every unpaid for product in use is lost revenue equal to retail value. I'd hope anyone who thinks about that for a few seconds can realize how absurd it is.

          The idea of DRM is fine, there are probably cases where it is makes perfect sense. It is this misuse of it in an attempt to leverage customers out of more money that I think is the issue.

          • by penix1 (722987) on Monday March 02, 2009 @08:42AM (#27038893) Homepage

            The idea of DRM is fine, there are probably cases where it is makes perfect sense.

            No it isn't. The whole reason for copyright isn't to make money forever no matter how the publishing corporations want to spin it. It is to enhance the public domain which doesn't happen with DRM. If you want to DRM content, then it shouldn't be covered by copyright since you violated the very reason for copyright.

            • by Cowmonaut (989226) on Monday March 02, 2009 @05:37PM (#27044897)

              You are missing the point. With a business model like Netflix's where you do NOT actually own the content, you are only renting it from Netflix, it makes PERFECT sense to have a DRM scheme (so long as it doesn't actually hinder people from viewing what they actually are paying to rent). Just like you should not be allowed to burn copies of movies you rent from blockbuster/hollywood video you shouldn't be able to record or copy the movies you rent from netflix.

              It is when they do silly things like put DRM on video games you OWN, or music you OWN, and so forth that DRM becomes unacceptable.

              Oh, and given each country has separate laws people need to stop bitching how Hulu doesn't work outside the US. There is no global copyright system. Stuff gets registered multiple times in different countries and the folks at Hulu don't want to pay several hundred times for you to be able to watch Robot Holocaust once.

        • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday March 02, 2009 @12:28AM (#27036445) Homepage

          Yes, I agree, that is the problem with DRM: it turns everything into rented content. But that's not such a big problem when you're explicitly renting it.

          For example, iTunes has the option to rent movies for $4 (giving you 24 hours to watch it) or to buy movies that you keep for $15. The rentals are effectively the same as my cable company's pay-per-view service, and it doesn't bother me on any practical or ideological level. Without that DRM, they probably wouldn't offer that option of "renting" digital downloads, whereas I find those rentals useful.

          However, I won't "buy" iTunes DRMed video. If I'm supposed to be "buying" it for keeps, and I'm paying a price that's commensurate with a purchase, then DRM is unacceptable. I'll buy movies and TV series, but not unless it's in a high-quality format that I can rip/transcode if I really want to.

        • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday March 02, 2009 @05:27AM (#27038047)

          Not really.

          I spend >$10 on a DVD that usually only watch once or twice.

          I spend ?$13 on Netflix per month and watch 5 or 6 streaming movies. Or for $10 I could watch 3-4 Movies on XBox marketplace.

          Do I spend more on pay per view? Yes. I usually rent more than I buy. But largely because I pirate less. It's supporting the content providers and they're offering me an affordable, reasonable service.

          I don't see the problem. They're offering me a better experience than the previous model (buying DVDs) at a discounted price. How many movies do you own that actually were cheaper than $2 per viewing?

          Pay Per View should cut piracy because the entry cost is lower. $2 for a possibly mediocre movie vs $18. If you aren't willing to spend $2 on a movie then you don't really deserve to watch it, it's almost impossible to not get your money's worth at $2.

        • by hey! (33014) on Monday March 02, 2009 @09:46AM (#27039271) Homepage Journal

          This is an important point. It leads an irony worth considering, based on the well known principle that local optimizations don't lead to global optimization.

          Suppose Alice has content that Bob wants. Very few people would feel that Alice ought to be compelled to provide Bob that content just be cause he wants it. So Bob has to offer Alice some incentive. Alice names a fancy price, which Bob declines to pay. So instead Bob and Alice come to a somewhat more complex arrangement. Bob agrees to pay Alice a smaller price, but restrict his uses to those he is most willing to pay for. From a libertarian viewpoint, this seems innocuous. Alice and Bob are happy, so that should be the end of that.

          But Alice and Bob are happy only with respect to the direct effects of this transaction on their interests. They are not necessarily happy about the net effect of information being encumbered this way throughout society. For example, many software licenses forbid publishing benchmarks or reviews without approval. Is the world a better place when people only have a vendor's word for what a piece of software is capable of doing? Are buyers better off?

          The rental thing sounds innocuous, but it has important consequences as well. Alice can probably maximize her revenue for her existing content by adopting a rental model. But culture depends on free re-use of ideas, both subtle reuses that don't fall within the scope of copyright law, and obvious reuses.

          Disney, for example comes down hard on people who would reuse images from its version Pinnochio, even though that work is by now sixty-four years old. However, their 1940 movie makes free use of the original story by Carlo Collodi that, because it was published in 1883, was only fifty seven years old at the time. Disney would argue, correctly, that at the time their usage was legal whereas their movie is still protected by current copyright. But they can't make a utilitarian argument that in this case protection is for the greater common good. Nor can they reasonably say it represents morally necessary protection of a fundamental right of creators to perpetual intelletual property protection.

          The important thing is that when information is controlled solely by private agreements, the net effect of all these local optimizations across society is not globally optimal for the parties living in that society. We can take a lesson from the popular music industry, which is creatively moribund and therefore financially vulnerable. They can blame "piracy" if they like, but if they were producing what consumers considered a good value they would be much better off. Yes, it is possible to download files of unknown quality and provenance for free, but when consumers have access to a good selection through convenient distribution at a fair price, they prefer it. The iTunes store proves this.

          But even something like the iTunes store is not a long term solution. As Pablo Picasso said, "Bad artists copy. Great artists steal." Art and culture depend on artists making old works their own.

          The progress of useful arts and sciences can't be left entirely to contractual or licensing arrangements between private individuals, as practically useful and even indispensable as those might be. Given the power of technology to restrict information, the law that makes those arrangements possible must also promote the continuing enrichment of the general intellectual welfare, if we are not to suffer dire long term consequences. Unfortunately, we live in a country where politicians aren't very interested in culture, or any aspect of the life of the mind. I was shocked to hear one politician last week mock the idea that studying the spread of venereal disease was a worthwhile use of money. I believe that this anti-intellectualism comes from being so rich for so long that we've come to believe that we can live by managing the prior accumulated wealth of generations of intellectual achievement.

      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @11:01PM (#27035751) Homepage Journal

        The thing is, this is one use of DRM that I think I might be able to live with: when you're renting content. Most of the things that I believe make DRM inherently unacceptable come from someone else trying to exercise control over something that I purchased and "own".

        No one wants to lose to option to own. The process of taking your computer from you [obsessable.com] is slow and incremental.

    • by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:29AM (#27037569)

      DRM has nothing to do with this. I am not a proponent of DRM, but this particular situation is not affected either positively or negatively by the existence of DRM. I don't mean from the point of view of the customer, I just mean the situation itself and how to resolve it.

      The issue is that the performance and quality of the new player has been reduced dramatically to the point the service is not worth the same. It's like being sold Blu-Ray, but then one firmware update later losing the HDMI output and only being able to use S-Video or Coax.

      not on any computer associated with the account.

      THAT is what is causing the problem. Once you have started to use the new system, you cannot use the old one, and that has nothing to do with what computer you are using or what DRM is installed. It's a server side issue. Well, that's a simple database transaction over at Netflix. They just need to modify their damn CRM to allow customer service reps to either put people back on the old system, or issue trouble tickets to the IT staff to do it for them.

      Even better yet, just get rid of the WHOLE policy on their systems that disallows connections from older clients based on whether or not they upgraded to the new system.

      This whole problem can be solved in less than 24 hours over at Netflix with practically no involvement of the customer. Just issue an email with an apology and a rebate and don't make the mistake of changing the expected quality of a service unexpectedly, especially for the same price.

      P.S - I suspect they can fix the problem in 1 second. The ability to distinguish between older clients and newer clients is most likely a single field in their databases. A simple SQL statement could probably fix it faster than anything else.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:20PM (#27034919) Homepage
    I see comments in the thread linked to by the original post. But I don't see any information saying there's really widespread unhappiness. There are 483 comments in the thread, most negative but I have no idea how large or how representative a sample that is. I can't tell how much of this is the standard negative reaction to any major upgrade. Does anyone have any data on complaint levels for prior Netflix upgrades?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      it's also, if you notice, not exactly a NEW problem.
      And if you look deeper, you'll see that the quality has been increased quite a bit over the past few months.

      add in that the compression used in the new streams is much better than the old one, allowing for better quality over lower bandwidth.

      but then, why use facts at all.

      why do i feel that this is more of a post by some disgruntled linux user who "can't get teh fee service that i pay nothing extra for to work on my selected OS" than any real news....

      oh wa

    • by jackchance (947926) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @10:00PM (#27035305) Homepage
      I am a mac user, so i only saw the silverlight version. But the video quality is way better than youtube. It is not DVD quality, but it is close. I haven't used it in a few weeks. It is totally possible that the increased popularity of the service has choked their bandwidth.

      I just logged in to check, and the quality is fine. About as good as standard TV.

      I think it is sort of funny that netflix gave this service to existing customers for free. and now people are bitching about the quality of this service that i see as basically icing on my dvd subscription cake.

      • You need to upgrade your "sense of entitlement" -- you're falling way behind the current population.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MMMDI (815272)
      Personally, I dislike the Silverlight version.... but that's only because I'm using a computer that I built on a budget three or four years ago. The older version worked fine on it, but this new version is just too much for my pitiful rig (1.34 GHz, 768 megs of RAM). Note that this is a personal complaint - it sucks, but I don't expect companies to cater to old hardware forever.

      With that said, it works like a dream on my wife's computer (which isn't bleeding edge hardware, but it's very powerful), and
  • so just quit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by groslyunderpaid (950152) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:23PM (#27034945)
    no, really. cancel your membership. now. everyone. then they will change. consumer whining does nothing. comsumers taking their money elsewhere does everything.
  • Viewer Quality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roxton (73137) <roxton@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:23PM (#27034961) Homepage Journal

    I was one of the early adopters. Within a week of the release of NetFlix streaming on the XBox, my PC feed became useless. It would keep stopping to buffer, and eventually stop indefinitely. When I called NetFlix to complain, they suggested I try the Silverlight player. The quality was roughly on par with YouTube, but the buffering problems went away, so I went with it.

    I'm wondering if the problem is not so much poor software quality as it is a bottleneck in the feed itself. Perhaps the servers can't take the load, or perhaps they simply don't have enough well-placed bandwidth. Their instant viewing subscriber base has been climbing tremendously.

    • Re:Viewer Quality (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shaitand (626655) on Monday March 02, 2009 @04:53AM (#27037927) Journal

      Quality on par with Youtube? Where do you get that?

      The old scheme had video that was extremely blurry at even the highest available bitrates. The new video is clear even at low bitrates with no buffering, no blurring, it compares favorably to SD cable and good divx/xvid rips on my 50" hdtv. If they can get that incredible increase in video quality at a lower bitrate then I say more power to them. Maybe they'll actually add some content.

      Not to mention the fact that it works in Firefox, I had to use IE Tab to get the old crapware working.

      Only complaint I have is the lack of content. There is no justification for the new releases not ALL being available for instant viewing the moment they are available for mailing.

  • by Vorpix (60341) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:29PM (#27035011)

    when i first saw the silverlight player i considered trying it out. but when i looked into it, netflix made it clear that this would make silverlight your only option. i didn't really want to go full-on with silverlight so I just passed up on it.

    it's not like netflix hid the fact that you couldn't use the WMP version. it wasn't discreetly placed in the fine print.. it was pretty clear.

    now, i don't really understand why they are forcing it to be an all-or-nothing decision.. but don't blame them for something they told you ahead of time about, and you had to opt into.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sparks23 (412116)

      It wasn't just 'not in the fine print,' as I recall. When I switched to the Silverlight viewer (to be able to use Netflix instant streaming on the Mac), I seem to vaguely remember the warning being in large, bold print about two point-sizes larger than the rest of the page.

  • by slashkitty (21637) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:30PM (#27035017) Homepage
    Even though they were running both players... This situation certainly associates silverlight with poor quality.
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:59PM (#27035297) Homepage

      Really?

      The old Netflix Instant Viewer required you to download a bunch of crap as well.

      The new one is the exact same way, and provides better video quality to every user I've talked to. What exactly is the issue here? It honestly sounds like a paranoid anti-MS rant. I suppose there might be some bugs, though anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the Silverlight-based system is more stable.

      The angry comments on the blog come primarily from users who have PPC macs -- users who weren't supported under the old system either. Although this comes down to being Microsoft's fault, the VC-1 codec is currently the only DRM'd solution that the movie studios see as being viable. Like it or not, DRM is going to be the reality for streaming video for some time to come.

      Unfortunately, Microsoft have chosen not to support PPC machines with the codec, primarily because there are very few PPC machines powerful enough to decode VC-1 video in real-time. It sucks for PPC Mac users, but you should be able to see their logic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by phanboy_iv (1006659)
        Hookay, running a Core 2 Duo based system here, and I get:
        1. Fullscreen artifacts
        2. Stuttering (AFAICT it's not streaming problems)
        3. More pixellation in higher quality modes than the old player.

        So no, it's not just FUD.
  • kdawson (Score:5, Informative)

    by Drive42 (444835) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:31PM (#27035021)

    =FUD. I have never seen an article penned by him (or her) that does not over-exaggerate the facts of the matter. The silverlight player has been out for a few months now. To have 480-odd complaints in that time, considering the size of Netflix's user base, while not great, is not that significant.

    The implementation of silverlight is still an important problem because of the DRM and the possible incompatibilities and bugs, but it is nowhere a "disaster".

    kdawson does nothing positive for slashdot. He should be removed. His entries sound like the worst kind of hellraising politics.

    • Re:kdawson (Score:5, Informative)

      by massysett (910130) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @10:13PM (#27035391) Homepage

      kdawson does nothing positive for slashdot. He should be removed. His entries sound like the worst kind of hellraising politics.

      Please, please mod this up. kdawson always, always posts absolute garbage. I didn't even look at Slashdot for months due to all the total garbage posted by kdawson. Now I have come back, and I have no idea why.

      I understand users posting dumb comments, and I can even understand dumb comments getting modded up...but dumb summaries of total crap articles? I might as well read Digg for that. Maybe I'll start ignoring Slashdot for a few months again, or until they get rid of this absolute garbage that kdawson always posts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      kdawson does nothing positive for slashdot. He should be removed. His entries sound like the worst kind of hellraising politics.

      The sort of flamefest that it generates helps get more ads in front of the eyeballs.

  • OS X Support (Score:5, Informative)

    by georgevulov (547520) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:32PM (#27035033) Homepage

    Personally, I am very happy with the new Silverlight-based movie player. The Windows Media Player-based solution offered no OS X support and I was forced to use VirtualBox to watch NF movies.

    Also, in my experience the new player loads much faster and fast forwarding and rewinding works much better. I have not noticed a decrease in quality, probably because my Internet connection wasn't fast enough in the first place to get the highest-quality streams.

    • Re:OS X Support (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Draconix (653959) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:41PM (#27035125)

      Seconding this. I've been using the Silverlight-based player, and it's been ace on OS X. The quality isn't stellar, but it's not bad enough to bother me either. It's a lot better than say, Youtube, but not as good as Quicktime streaming. It's maybe a little worse than DVD for me, which is perfectly fine by my standards.

      Only problems I've had with it were occasional movies with audio out of sync, but it's a rare problem. (I've had it happen two or three times out of at least 50)

      The DRM doesn't really bother me in this case. I'm renting these movies, not buying them. The DRM isn't depriving me of anything. (I'm really anti-DRM for things one owns, but seriously, for rental services, DRM makes perfect sense to me.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Firethorn (177587)

      How could the 'rewinding' be any worse? From what I've seen, wanting to rewind for even a second requires a complete buffer dump and redownload of the content (IE I get to wait for ~10 seconds minimum for it to buffer again).

      I often get a 'wait one' moment and want to go back ~10 seconds or so and see something again, so it really annoys me.

      Keeping ~10-30 second of buffer data even after playing would be useful.

      As would a non-browser player program, I'd like to get rid of the frames and such and have a 'f

  • by Jade E. 2 (313290) <(ten.mrotslrep) (ta) (todhsals)> on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:41PM (#27035115) Homepage

    This could be a public relations disaster in the making for Netflix.

    Nah, they'll be fine, as long as it doesn't make Slashdot.

  • by Silverlancer (786390) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:46PM (#27035181)
    There are pretty much three choices for streaming video right now:

    1. Crappy encoder, low bitrate. This is what Youtube went with originally--they used FLV1 (Sorenson H.263) video, which at the time was the only real option (other than VP6, which wasn't much better). They went with 350kbps video. The result was pretty awful, but it worked for Youtube videos. It's free, so people will tolerate it. But for a paid service, such quality is absurd.

    2. Crappy encoder, high bitrate. This is what Stage6 did; they used DivX, which, while better than FLV1, wasn't too much better. But what they did was allow absurdly high bitrates; I saw bitrates over 12 megabits per second for standard definition video! Of course, we all know what happened to Stage6; upon realizing the sheer amount of money that such bitrates cost, they went out of business, sort of like Wile. E. Coyote falling to the ground only after realizing that he was standing on air.

    3. Good encoder, low bitrate. Facebook does ~600kbps standard definition video, and it looks great. Vudu does 1080p video on demand at 2.8mbps. Youtube now does 720p HD at 2 megabits. What do they have in common? They use x264 for encoding.

    NetFlix chose to use VC-1 instead, and as a result they have 1.5 megabit standard definition streams that look like crap. And they don't even have an excuse anymore, because Silverlight supports H.264. Which is rather odd, actually, as Microsoft has been pushing for years to try to replace H.264 in the marketplace with their vastly inferior VC-1. Maybe they've given up because their campaign just isn't working.
    • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @10:54PM (#27035701) Journal

      NetFlix chose to use VC-1 instead, and as a result they have 1.5 megabit standard definition streams that look like crap.

      The codec-standard being used doesn't have a huge amount to do with video quality. The implementation matters a lot more than the codec.

      For very high quality encoding, you really can't even theoretically do much better than MPEG-2 already has. All newer codecs can really do, that old ones couldn't, is to do a better job of masking digital artifacts, when using bitrates so low that they can't be avoided (1.5MBps should be high enough not to require it).

      You can certainly find commercial H.264 video encoders that produce horrible results.

      WMV3 (aka WMV9, VC-1, etc.) suffers from the fact that practically nobody but Microsoft chooses to make an encoder for the format, and Microsoft isn't interested in the endless testing a tweaking that it takes to really squeeze the maximum quality out of it.

      What x264 has going for it, are the same things Xvid and Lavc (ffmpeg/mplayer) have going for them... Lots of people spending lots of time, dedicated to improving the encoder, for everyone's benefit. Whether you love or hate open source, perceptual coding is really the canonical example where proprietary software just can't compete. Actually LAME, Musepack, et al, fall into this category as well, on the audio side of the spectrum.

      Of course, the most prominent counter-example would be Theora, which has turned into a bottomless pit of embarrassment, but several-dozen to one isn't bad odds at all.

      But I digress.

      Netflix does a lousy job at video encoding. They could do a much better job, while sticking with VC-1, but they instead chose not to invest the slightest effort into it. Switching to x264 would help a lot, but switching to Xvid, or Lavc MPEG-2 would do almost as much, really.

      In conclusion, where'd my bottle of whiskey go?...

      • by atamido (1020905) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:38AM (#27037329)

        For very high quality encoding, you really can't even theoretically do much better than MPEG-2 already has. All newer codecs can really do, that old ones couldn't, is to do a better job of masking digital artifacts, when using bitrates so low that they can't be avoided (1.5MBps should be high enough not to require it).

        This is simply not true for any practical application. If you pump up the bitrate high enough, MPEG-2 and h.264 will both produce just I-frames encoded pretty similarly. But at those bitrates people will be using something like MJPEG, or a lossless codec.

        H.264 has a significantly better motion vector system at practical bitrates that will produce a far superior image than MPEG-2. When Blu-Ray was first came out, all of it's movies were in MPEG-2 for some reason, while HD-DVD was in H.264, and the HD-DVD movies had significantly higher quality. It wasn't until Blu-Ray producers switched to using H.264 that they were able to make movies with excellent quality. (This despite more than a decade of development on MPEG-2 codecs.)

        WMV3 (aka WMV9, VC-1, etc.) suffers from the fact that practically nobody but Microsoft chooses to make an encoder for the format, and Microsoft isn't interested in the endless testing a tweaking that it takes to really squeeze the maximum quality out of it.

        VC-1 actually has pretty good quality. (I have no idea if further development could improve it much though.) VC-1 is almost as good as H.264 for quality at a given bitrate. Where it shines though is that it takes significantly less CPU power to decode. It's not uncommon for a PC to be able to decode a VC-1 1080p stream, but not an H.264 one.

        Still, Netflix is the only major system that I know of that uses VC-1 heavily. Blu-Ray CAN use it, but most producers seem to use H.264 instead. I suppose they figure that they might as well get the extra quality as they know hardware players will be able to play either back fine.

  • by Trelane (16124) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:49PM (#27035199) Journal
    At least they've got a player to whine about....
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:49PM (#27035201)

    This could be a public relations disaster in the making for Netflix.

    Since most Netflix members still use the service to watch DVD's I highly doubt it.

  • by undertow3886 (605537) <geoff@am[ ]info ['sa.' in gap]> on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:54PM (#27035249)

    Don't know if this has been mentioned yet but this post is from last October.

    MLB.tv did something similar a year or so ago where they switched from something that is actually meant to play video (WMP) to something that I can't really tell what it's meant to do (Silverlight). They had a similar deal where once you opted in you couldn't change back to WMP. They had (have?) all the same kinds of problems with it not working for people or just being worse quality.

    Now this has happened a second time with a completely separate content provider and I don't know what to think other than that Silverlight is synonymous with crummy picture quality and choppy playback.

  • by sottitron (923868) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @09:58PM (#27035281)
    Back in June of 2008 Netflix was going to shutdown the feature for managing separate queues. They sent an email and I canceled my account that day. Not sure how many of us there were, but they reversed course quickly. If you're pissed about the silverlight player. Close your account and email them a note to say why you did it. Maybe this will be a non-issue in the morning... Here is a link to the original plan on Ars Technica: Netflix killing extra queues [arstechnica.com]
  • Say What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by secretplans (1489863) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @10:21PM (#27035447)
    .torrent + utorrent + VLC = WTF is NetFlix?
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @10:37PM (#27035553)

    The old player used Windows Media DRM, which of course was Windows only. As a Mac user, I prefer the new player since I now benefit from it.

    But, more importantly, the changes Netflix has made now allow streaming to quite a few devices - my Tivo HD, for instance. In my opinion this is far, far more welcome than streaming to either a Windows or a Mac computer.

    As an aside - kdawson needs to get caught up on his reading. Dredging up a story from last October, back when the reported service change had just started, doesn't really qualify as "stuff that matters". There definitely were a lot of issues with the changeover, back then; but most have been resolved.

  • new player is great (Score:5, Informative)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768 AT comcast DOT net> on Sunday March 01, 2009 @11:21PM (#27035887) Journal
    Seriously I think it works excellently. And to complain about DRM on a RENTAL is insane especially when the original had DRM too. Sorry Im sure Netflix will take being able to offer films to Mac users and soon linux users with moonlight, over a few people bitching any day.
  • whine...whine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Danathar (267989) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @11:45PM (#27036073) Journal

    OH puleeze...it's their service. They don't even have to HAVE streaming. If you don't like it then drop it.

  • I'm baffled here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @11:46PM (#27036081) Journal

    The new player works in both Firefox and IE and is a MAJOR quality improvement over the previous player. It starts faster, the picture is dramatically better. The previous version never had blockiness but at ANY quality setting it looked like it had a blur effect applied. Their hacked together scripts NEVER detected the correct bitrate for me, requiring me to manually set the bitrate. Except of course that sometimes the appropriate bitrates didn't even appear as an option when I used the key sequence to change it manually.

    The new player has no issues, it auto scales to available bandwidth and recalculates on the fly every 6 seconds with no video interruption. Unlike the old version, you can jump around in the video timeline fairly quickly. With the old version it required 2mins plus of buffering.

    For the people talking about ripping streams, the rippers don't work with the current version of media player and the DRM refuses to work without it.

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Monday March 02, 2009 @01:26AM (#27036917)

    I use Netflix, both the delivery by mail system, and the Instant View.

    I "upgraded" to Silverlight when the service required me to do so.

    The video quality is better. It is not interrupted nearly as often by network congestion as the old player was, and the "backwards/Forward" slider actually works without rebuffering the entire movie again. It also remembers where I left off when I close the IE. I can come back a week later and pick up right where I left off. The "free" service works better, by far.

    But what about Windows Media player being borked? Until I read the summary, IT DIDN'T MATTER. Why?

    Quite simple. I don't use Windows Media Player for ANYTHING BUT NETFLIX! Matter of fact, I don't use Internet Explorer for anything but Netflix as well!

    As a matter of fact, Netflix is the only reason either of them are even installed on my machine. So, in essence, there was a net effect of ZERO, other then the above-mentioned benefits.

  • by graphicsguy (710710) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:09AM (#27037191)
    I just tried it yesterday. It seems to work fine. No fast-forward/reverse, but forward/backward selection from an image preview stack works well enough for me (for now). It does seem like the default auto-bitrate tends to set things on the low side. Try control-shift-alt-b to manually select from the three available bitrates, and control-shift-alt-m for a menu of other interesting stuff.
  • I disagree.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by UttBuggly (871776) on Monday March 02, 2009 @09:37AM (#27039197)

    Coincidentally, I just dropped the Cox Cable DVR (SciAtl 8300HD) in favor of TiVo HD and...NetFlix!

    I don't "see" the issues reported, at all. What I do see is that most users...Windows or not...don't have an optimal network setup, and THAT will impact any player, SilverLight included.

    We've gone crazy on the "Instant" stuff, both with the Video On Demand feature of TiVo and the "Instant To Your PC" on the NetFlix site.

    So far, only ONE movie has had issues and those traced back to my DSL router and ISP. Here's a good example of network "gotcha", by the way. My TiVO Desktop machine is a new build and the MTU was defaulted to 1500. That's cool UNLESS you're on a DSL link using PPPoE that supports 1492 as a max MTU. A video stream running in that setup is in packet fragmentation hell. Setting a correct MTU made NetFlix fly. End of problem.

    Plus, I would NOT trade the MUCH better experience with TiVO/NetFlix compared to Cox. If nothing else, the equipment is better. The video scaler in the TiVO box is markedly better than the cheap chips in the SciAtl 8300HD. With component or HDMI, the TiVo provides a cleaner picture. HD is great, but the real test are OTA and basic cable analog signals; TiVO kicks ass. MUCH less noise and not as soft as the SciAtl box.

    Oh, and another thing...MCards do exist and do work. I had Cox tell me they would be bringing 2 SCards for my TiVo HD. I insisted they bring ONE MCard, which they said "Tech Support has never heard of". The tech showed up with both, the MCard worked fine...after a 2nd poke from the Cox network...and it's great. I went back to the local Cox store and told the 2 CSRs there I had indeed received and installed the "non-existent" MCard.

    In short, SilverLight works fine; most consumers...and their networks...do not.

  • I just tried watching a movie and the quality is much lower than it should be. Something is definitely not right about it.

    I saw the menu. The bitrates avaialble to me were 500,1000, and 1500. 1500 was selected, but the quality was still much lower than I expected. loads of blockies. too many for 1500bps.

    Netflix just changed something I'm sure of it. I will be contacting them for certain about it.

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

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