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Netflix Ditches Silverlight With HTML5 Support In IE11 337

Posted by timothy
from the such-comfortable-handcuffs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Netflix today announced that it has finally taken the first step towards ditching Silverlight for HTML5, largely thanks to Microsoft, no less. The company has been working closely with the Internet Explorer team to implement its proposed 'Premium Video Extensions' in IE11 on Windows 8.1, meaning if you install the operating system preview released today, you can watch Netflix content using HTML5 right now. Back in April, Netflix revealed its plans to use HTML5 video in any browser that implements its proposed 'Premium Video Extensions.' These extensions allow playback of premium video (read: with DRM protection) directly in the browser without the need to install plugins such as Silverlight or Flash."
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Netflix Ditches Silverlight With HTML5 Support In IE11

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 27, 2013 @09:54AM (#44122017)

    I like how it touts the fact that you don't need to install flash or silverlight but you still need to install Netflix's DRM stuff to decode the data. And if your operating system or machine isn't supported by Netflix, then you can't view the data. I don't see how this is any better than flash or silverlight. With those, you just need to install either flash or silverlight but now you need to install a DRM from each provider.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:16AM (#44122209)

      I like how it touts the fact that you don't need to install flash or silverlight but you still need to install Netflix's DRM stuff to decode the data. And if your operating system or machine isn't supported by Netflix, then you can't view the data. I don't see how this is any better than flash or silverlight. With those, you just need to install either flash or silverlight but now you need to install a DRM from each provider.

      The joke is that they did their content licensing deals based on MS drm( so that it is stipulated that on desktop it has to have their magic sauce because it's soooo unrippable) because of MS influence, the meat of the joke is that MS discontinued silverlight.

      that's why you have netflix clients on phones and what have you but the only desktop platform is with silverlight!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think some HR departments are still looking for silverlight senior developers...

    • by letsief (1053922) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:34AM (#44122379)

      It's not quite as bad as you're suggesting. You don't need to install a different DRM plugin for each content provider. You just need different plugins for different forms of DRM. At least in practice, I suspect, most users (i.e., those running common browsers and operating systems) won't have to install anything- the DRM plugins will ship with the browser. That's the case now with the Chromebooks and Windows 8.1/IE11.

    • I'd rather they just use Flash. It's not going anywhere on the desktop. And while I don't have it actually installed as a system-wide plug-in, whenever I wanted to watch Netflix on my computer I would do what I do now with other Flash-only content: fire up Chrome with its self-contained Flash plugin.

      But no, Netflix had to use Silverlight, which I refuse to install, and now they're going to an even more limited IE11-only extension.

  • Not really HTML5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @09:56AM (#44122031)

    If I still have to have an approved OS and browser and install a DRM plugin, it's not really just HTML5.

    Oh wow, we swapped one plugin for another.

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:00AM (#44122083)

      In my minds of the corporate overlords these days, what's good for the goose is good for the goose and the gander can take it or leave it.

      • In the UK, the content was so abysmal that "leave it" is what I did. Even if it was DRM free and FREE to use, I still wouldn't have a need to use them. It was like being in a video shop in the late 80s.
        • Canada's the same way. I use a proxy server setting on my smart TV to get the American netflix. Otherwise I wouldn't bother with it.
          • It's still not worth it. I live in America, got Netflix for free for 1 month... the content was such crap and so out of date it was laughable. The quality was terrible because it couldn't stream it live and the bandwidth I had at the time and there was no option to queue up a movie to watch later so all I could really do was pick from some crappy movies I'd already seen last year and see them in bellow 480 resolution. I think we watched half a movie before we just dumped the crap and went back to the pirate

            • Re:Not really HTML5 (Score:4, Informative)

              by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:45AM (#44122505) Journal

              Sounds like a problem with your internet connection and not a problem with Netflix. I stream in 720i regularly without any problems.

            • Re:Not really HTML5 (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @11:14AM (#44122867)
              I agree with you for the most part.

              If I can't find something on Netflix TPB or ExtraTorrent is my next stop. I like Netflix because I like watching movies I haven't seen in a long time and they have a pretty good anime selection, way better than my local video store (now closed) ever had and I don't have to spend days snooping the interwebs to find episodes. Also there's good content there for my two year old to watch. For eight bucks a month it's worth the effort it'd take me to find and download stuff for her and saves physical space in my house for crap movies/shows she'd only watch once and never look at again.

              If they had newer movies and shows there, I'd be willing to pay more. Espically if I could get rid of my cable. If I could get rid of the cable I'd save nearly $100/month, but my wife is addicted to having crap playing in the background even when she's reading a book and not watching it. I just got Sickbeard setup a couple of weeks ago to auto download shows we watch and I'm starting to wean my wife off of channel surfing, but she still insists we can't get rid of the cable.

              Part of the reason for getting Sickbeard is we live on the East coast (Atlantic time) and a lot of shows we want to watch don't end until almost midnight for us, we have a two year old and are up early every day so staying up late is less and less of an option. The cable company wants to charge us ANOTHER $15/month for one PVR or $25/month for two so we could have one for the bedroom and another for the living room, all on top of the $150/month for internet and cable we already pay. With Sickbeard I have it downloading to a 3TB ($250) external drive on a laptop in our bedroom closet that's hocked to our bedroom TV (HDMI cable through the wall). Then I use Plex to stream content to our downstairs Smart TV, it's a pretty awesome setup and I'm considering ripping, or just downloading, all the movies we own and sticking the DVD's in a box in the attic to save space in our living room. But it's a shame I have to expend all the energy to setup that system when I'd be perfectly willing to pay a reasonable price for a similar service.

              I don't like cable, I don't like sitting through 20 minutes of useless commercials for every hour of TV I watch and have movies and shows interrupted, I don't like having to pay for tons of crap I don't want and pay extra to get the two or three channels I do want, then be nickled and dimed for equipment that's inconvenient to use and I have to give back if I cancel my service anyway, $300/year for two PVRs on top of the $1,650/year for basic cable and internet is stupid.
              • by Karzz1 (306015)
                .... $300/year for two PVRs on top of the $1,650/year for basic cable and internet is stupid.

                You, sir, are unpatriotic. Please report to your local thought police station immediately for retraining.
          • What is even more hilarious (and sad at the same time) is there is more Canadian content on the US netflix then on the Canadian one. You can get current episodes of Coonnttinnuum (the show is set in Vancouver, with all its duplicated letters in the title) and MacGyver, while US produced, was filmed in Vancouver with a largely Canadian cast.

            • I watched continuum for a while. It was a pretty good show, but to SciFi for my wife and it wasn't on until almost 11:00PM for us here on the East coast so it was kind of late. I should add it to sickbeard for downloading now that I have that setup.
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          In the UK, the content was so abysmal that "leave it" is what I did. Even if it was DRM free and FREE to use, I still wouldn't have a need to use them. It was like being in a video shop in the late 80s.

          it seems it's pretty abysmal in most regions outside of US. mostly because all the good stuff apart from netflix exclusives is already peddled with region exclusive deals to tv companies.

          so the end result is that for example mythbusters has seasons 1-3 in finland. and I can have "great" documentaries like supersize me. yeeeehaaaa!

        • by Sloppy (14984)

          In the UK, the content was so abysmal that "leave it" is what I did.

          90% of everything is shit, and the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

          I'm sure 90% of your TV is shit, but so is ours. What you're doing is concentrating on our 10% and your 100%. Over here on the other side of the pond, I do the same thing but from opposite perspective: "Damn, so there's much great stuff we're watching from the BBC."

          • by liamevo (1358257)

            Not really, he's talking about the content on offer on the UK netflix, not just UK content in general.

            • Apart from Sky at night and other things on iplayer/factual i've given up with the BBC. Just about all TV content really. Films are no better. I could torrent any film I want. Can I think of anything I want to watch? No. Nothing at all. When I get an Oculus VR I think that's it for passive content for me.
            • by Sloppy (14984)

              Whoops, my bad.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        In my minds of the corporate overlords these days, what's good for the goose is good for the goose and the gander can take it or leave it.

        She just filed for divorce on the grounds of not having her physical needs satisfied. Apparently he just sat on the couch all day and crowed about his profits, and grew fat and bloated until he couldn't fly, while she worked tirelessly doing volunteer work and helping poor children get access to music and movies that he had removed from the library and put in a video and record store across the street, then campaigned with local politicians to shut down the library because it was hurting his bottom line by

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      No-one managed to build an un-approved plugin yet?

    • Re:Not really HTML5 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Microlith (54737) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:14AM (#44122193)

      Actually that would still be HTML5. That's why adding ECE to HTML5 is stupid: it solves none of the problems of Flash plugins while opening the door for a multitude of similar DRM plugins, each with its own, unique attack surface.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TWiTfan (2887093)

      And what, pray tell, do you propose as an alternative? Should they abandon DRM to stick it to the man--immediately losing 99% of all their content? Yeah, now all that's on Netflix streaming are a handful of no-name indies, but they're all DRM free! We win!!!

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Flash seems to work fine for everyone else.

        Since they mail out easy to copy disks I would think no DRM is not much loss.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          Flash seems to work fine for everyone else.

          Does it?

          Netflix streams HD movies to my PC, but uses Silverlight.
          Amazon Prime only streams SD movies to my PC with HD being restricted to "approved devices", but uses Flash.

          So quite frankly, Flash is not working for everyone else. Take your blinders off.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Amazon prime does HD. I watched "Good Eats" in HD on my computer yesterday. Netflix does not work at all on that computer.

      • If you're already accusing me of stealing I might as well steal your precious ccontent.

    • by citizenr (871508) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:54AM (#44122619) Homepage

      Its NOT a plugin citizen, we call them Extensions!

    • by prelelat (201821)

      Yep pretty much but that's what you're stuck with, with HTML5 not having a good drm scheme in it. You're going to find a bunch of different DRM plugins for browsers. More attack vectors and so on.

      I can see both sides to it though, DRM is a piece of shit so why include something comprable in HTML5 people will just find a way to circumvent it if they wish anyways.

      On the other hand the content provider(here netflix) has to give content creators assurances that their content won't just be stolen and distribut

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        HTML5 can't have DRM in it. It would never work.

        What would stop people from modifying open source browsers to simply write the video out to a file?

        You can't have netflix on linux, if you could you very well can't have DRM. With firefox + linux there would be nothing stopping you from simply recording the video or hell writing it directly to a file.

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      We did more than that, we legitimized DRM!

      C:\> EDIT INTERNET
       
      General failure reading INTERNET
      Embrace, Extend, Extinguish?_

  • Premium Video Extensions - That sounds like a plugin. Its good if you want to lock people into one video system, but definitely not html 5.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      It's supposed to be HTML5 - but is this really a standard?

      If so, what is stopping other people (e.g. some Firefox extension developers) to build the exact same thing, allowing Netflix videos to play in other browsers?

      And: how're they going to stop such plugins from not following the restrictions asked for by the DRM?

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Your "and" explains your previous question.

        They can't allow Firefox or anyone else to support this DRM directly since it would be trivial at that point to just ignore the content restrictions.

      • by wagnerrp (1305589) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @11:06AM (#44122749)

        If so, what is stopping other people (e.g. some Firefox extension developers) to build the exact same thing, allowing Netflix videos to play in other browsers?

        Nothing prevents Firefox from implementing HTML5 ECE, but then nothing is requiring Netflix to support Firefox as an approved browser for their ECE module. Of course, trying to re-implement the ECE module itself to independently support Netflix is a federal crime under the DMCA.

  • by jpstanle (1604059) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:00AM (#44122081)

    If it's still MS only, who gives a shit?

    • The 90% of desktop users that use Windows?

    • If it's still MS only, who gives a shit?

      It's already in Chrome OS on Samsung ARM-based ChromeBooks. They beat Windows to the punch a while ago.

      The only thing new here is that it's now also in Windows 8.1 preview IE11.

      What it's likely never going to be is generic to a non-locked down browser implementation, which means it's not going to be on a BSD or Linux system without some form of lockdown. Otherwise it's too easy to do unencrypted frame grabbing to de-DRM the content, which is precisely what they don't want.

      Of course, it's not like you coul

      • by qbast (1265706)
        So in other words - Linux users get screwed as usual.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Or you could just get them to mail you DVDs or BluRay disks that are trivial to rip.

        Netflix is likely already the biggest distributer of media being pirated via their disk mailing business.

        You would not even have to worry about being sued, unless you tell someone what you are doing.

  • by apcullen (2504324) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:19AM (#44122235)
    FTFA:

    According to Netflix, Microsoft made this possible by implementing three features in its still-unfinished IE11:

    The Media Source Extensions (MSE), using the Media Foundation APIs within Windows. Since Media Foundation supports hardware acceleration using the GPU, Netflix can achieve high quality 1080p video playback with minimal CPU and battery utilization.
    The Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) using Microsoft PlayReady DRM. This provides the content protection needed for media services like Netflix.
    The Web Cryptography API (WebCrypto), which allows Netflix to encrypt and decrypt communication between its JavaScript application and its servers.

    Sounds like this is locked into windows via the Media Foundation APIs

    • Indeed. Netflix current works for Mac users... what's going to happen to them?

    • by TopSpin (753) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:51AM (#44122581) Journal

      Sounds like this is locked into windows via the Media Foundation APIs

      There may be lock in, but it's not exclusive to Microsoft:

      Media Source Extensions (MSE) [w3.org] This specification extends HTMLMediaElement to allow JavaScript to generate media streams for playback. Allowing JavaScript to generate streams facilitates a variety of use cases like adaptive streaming and time shifting live streams.

      Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) [w3.org] This proposal extends HTMLMediaElement providing APIs to control playback of protected content.

      Web Cryptography API (WebCrypto) [w3.org] This specification describes a JavaScript API for performing basic cryptographic operations in web applications, such as hashing, signature generation and verification, and encryption and decryption.

      They're all W3C standards track specifications. The first two have editors from the same three corporations; Google, Microsoft and Netflix. Google, in particular, can't tolerate not being capable of playing Netflix (10% of the population of the US subscribes to this) on its platforms (Android and Chrome OS.) It already works on both and you can take it for granted that Google expects to achieve parity with these specifications.

      The last specification is not specific to streaming; it's a general purpose Javascript API to perform common cryptographic operations.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        None of that changes the fact that these are simply incompatible with FOSS. No FOSS browser on a FOSS OS can ever support these. Well unless you want DRMed hardware, but then you might as well just give it all up anyway.

        • by TopSpin (753)

          None of that changes the fact that these are simply incompatible with FOSS

          No claim made to the contrary. It's still lock in, as I said. It's just not specific to Microsoft.

          Reading comprehension. Try it sometime.

      • by devent (1627873)

        Bullshit. The W3C "standard" is only a plugin API.
        The EME is tied to vendor provided Content Decryption Modules (CDMs). The standard does not specify the CDMs at all. It's a black box with "do as you like" label.

        So even if the web content is using EME it does not mean at all that you can watch the content in your web browser. Just like you cannot watch Flash content without Flash, you will not be able to watch content without the vendor CDM.

  • "Such as" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cajun Hell (725246) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @10:27AM (#44122311) Homepage Journal

    These extensions allow playback of premium video (read: with DRM protection) directly in the browser without the need to install plugins such as Silverlight or Flash.

    Geez, talk about stretching the meaning of "such as." The whole point of this is that it lets you play it in the browser by installing a proprietary single-source plugin. Sure, you can argue that your plugin isn't "like" Sliverlight or Flash, just like Microsoft might say Silverlight is also not a plugin like Flash, and Adobe might argue that Flash is not a plugin like Java. And the guy serving malware on porn sites might argue his video codec is not a malware plugin like the other ones are. "My plugin takes spam-sending orders from this botnet, not that botnet! See? It's totally different!"

    That is exactly how these extensions are not plugins like Flash or Silverlight. In other words: totally meaningless bullshit. It's just another plugin, which happens to use a newer API.

    Lie all you want about it not being a plugin, but the lie is pretty transparent and does more to discredit the speaker than it does to really deceive anyone.

  • How does this play out in the release version of Firefox? Because in TFA it sounds like, very soon, I may not be able to watch Netflix on my computer any more without a preview version of IE. :^(

    For now, it's just use Silverlight, but will MS share its new platform lockdown?

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Firefox can't support this. They best they could ever hope to do is pass this data to the OS and let it do the work. That will only work on Windows. OSX will likely get its own version and that will be it.

      The OS has to protect itself from its owner to do this sort of thing. If you actually had control over the computer this would never work. Which is why it will not be supported on linux running on non-locked down hardware.

  • Since they utterly screwed up the silverlight app that they run in IE10 and you now have to watch netflix with Firefox, which is slightly less glitchy, how about they fix that instead? You know, since nobody uses Windows 8 or 8.1 or IE11. Spending a ton of money on a giant project that affects nearly 0% of your userbase is pretty darn stupid.
  • Am I an exception? 99.9% of the time I spend on Netflix is either on iPad or on my Samsung Smart TV.
  • by sixsixtysix (1110135) on Thursday June 27, 2013 @05:04PM (#44127193)
    Any argument made that says DRM is completely necessary for video MUST also be true for music or books.
    We already know that is not true.
    Video is not some special magical thing that needs different protection. IP is IP is IP. End of story.

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