Netflix is taking a big step toward moving away from Microsoft Silverlight technology to stream videos to your web browser. The company has announced that you can now stream videos in HTML5… if you’re using Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1.

While HTML5 is a web standard used by most modern web browsers, Netflix relies on a few technologies that aren’t yet widely available, which means that it may be a long time before you can stream videos in other web browsers or on other operating systems.

In other words, if you’re running Ubuntu, Fedora, or another GNU/Linux operating system, you’re probably going to keep needing complicated workarounds to stream Netflix videos for the foreseeable future.


Netflix says it’s support IE11 and Windows 8.1 because Microsoft implemented 3 things:

  1. Media Source Extensions
  2. Encrypted Media Extensions with Microsoft PlayReader DRM
  3. Web Cryptography API

I’d be surprised if we see that level of DRM added to Chrome or Firefox web browsers in Ubuntu anytime soon.

On the one hand, Netflix obviously wants to make it easier for users to stream content on a variety of devices. You don’t make a lot of money with a subscription-based service unless you have happy customers.

On the other hand, the Netflix streaming business model depends on the idea that you can stream content, but not download and save it — or even stream it to too many devices at once using the same user account. So it’s not surprising that the company requires strong DRM (digital rights management) technology. It’d be tough to get TV and movie studios to license content to Netflix if the service was leaky.

But DRM is rarely implemented in a way that makes it truly easy to access content on any device you’d like, whether you’re talking about DRM-laden eBooks, music files, or streaming videos.

via TNW

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4 replies on “Netflix moves toward HTML5 video for Windows 8.1, still nothing (official) for Linux”

  1. Netflix does provide HTML5 playback support in Chrome… on ARM-based Chromebooks at least.

  2. I can get Netflix on Ubuntu via a special Firefox for wine setup…. -or- I could watch it on Amazon Instant Video and not have to jump through hoops to give a company my money.

    Likewise, I could get Google Drive on Linux using a third party client… -or- I could use Dropbox and not have to jump through hoops to give a company my money.

    Increasingly, I’m enjoying making the easy choice. 🙂

    It’s almost funny in Netflix’s case; they have Linux support for Chromebooks anyway, so I don’t see the “need DRM” rational.

    1. The “need DRM” rationale is forced by the content provider. Without content, Netflix is nothing, so obviously they need to kowtow to studios wishes for DRM, no matter how seemingly archaic and utterly ineffective it is at stopping piracy in the first place. We all know studios (and record labels) are mired in old business models and unwilling to change, so it is what it is until THEY stop trying to make that business model work in the internet everywhere age.

      Don’t shoot the messenger.

      1. I’m not. I’m shooting Netflix. While watching on Amazon, whose DRM runs on my Linux box without any issues…. much like how Netflix’s runs on the Linux boxes running ChromeOS.

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