No blackout ahead: Netflix already ditched Silverlight for Chrome

Netflix-loving Chrome users won’t be caught in a bind come January 1, which is when Google is set to turn off support for Silverlight and similar plugins: Netflix has already “100 percent switched over” to HTML5 for current Chrome versions, according to a spokesperson.

Google announced earlier this week that it will disable Silverlight and other plugins based on the NPAPI plugin architecture by default at the beginning of next year. These plugins were originally developed to extend the functionality of browsers. For example, [company]Google[/company] installed its own Google Talk plugin on Chrome and other browsers to bring voice and video chat to Gmail. Silverlight, which was developed by Microsoft, was meant to offer media streaming in the browser.

Usage of these plugins has continued to decline as services transition to HTML5-based solutions, but Silverlight in particular has still seen quite a bit of usage. Eleven percent of all Chrome users still launched Silverlight in October 2014, according to Google. That’s down from 15 percent a year ago, but still significant, and largely based on users viewing [company]Netflix[/company] streams in their browser.

Netflix itself has been transitioning to HTML5 for some time, and actually switched over to HTML5 for Safari this summer as well. On Chrome, Netflix started to move toward HTML5 in early 2013, in part to ensure playback on Chromebooks because there is no Silverlight implementation for Chrome OS. As Netflix engineers detailed back then, the company still uses a dedicated plugin for DRM, but this won’t be impacted by the NPAPI phase-out.

For consumers, all of this means that their Netflix streams will continue to work on Chrome even after January 1. All they need to do is keep their Chrome browser up to date.