Netflix To Start Testing HTML5 Streaming This Year

IT Management

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Netflix made Samsung Chromebook owners happy last month when it brought instant streaming to Chrome OS through the power of HTML5. It was finally able to do so thanks to a few recent developments made to the Web standard. Now it's ready to start moving all browsers to HTML5.

In a post on its tech blog, Netflix says that its starting the move to HTML5 because Microsoft is putting Silverlight out to pasture in 2021. That's not the only problem though. Some browsers, especially on mobile devices, don't support plugins. This makes it hard for Netflix to deliver streaming video content to every browser on every platform. The move to HTML5 should readily fix that.

Of course, moving to HTML5 does present its own unique obstacles. For one, HTML5 is an open platform, and Neflix, as per its agreements with studios, must implement DRM on its streaming content to prevent people from pilfering the content from its site. Silverlight makes streaming DRM easy, but it's a bit more complicated with HTML5.

Still, Netflix is moving forward with what it calls "HTML5 Premium Video Extensions." In short, it's DRM for HTML5 that comes in three extensions - Media Source Extensions, Encrypted Media Extensions and Web Cryptography API. The first two are already in effect, but the third is still being developed. In the meantime, Netflix is using its own Pepper Plugin API to take the place of the Web Cryptography API until it's implemented in Chrome.

So, when will we start seeing HTML5 in broad use on Netflix? The company says that it will start testing HTML5 in Chrome once the Web Cryptography API is complete. Unfortunately, the test will only be available for Windows and Mac OSX computers. Those on Linux are left out, and those users are already voicing their displeasure in the blog comments.