Chrome Silverlight switch-off to black out Netflix
Google has announced it will switch off all the NPAPI plugins in its Chrome browser by April, effectively cutting off sites that use Silverlight – including Netflix.
(Update – 26 November: Netflix has been in touch to tell us that the company has switched to HTML5 video playback in Chrome and so won’t be affected by the Chrome plugin switch off, although the company’s support pages continue to suggest that Silverlight is still used within Chrome.)
Google said last year that it was phasing out NPAPI browser plugins, which the company claims have a detrimental effect on the browser’s speed, security and stability.
Currently, Google only permits six of the most popular plugins to run automatically in Chrome, including Microsoft’s Silverlight, Java and Google Talk. However, those six and all other NPAPI plugins will be disabled in April 2015, with users having to deploy a workaround if they wish to continue using them.
Silverlight is the most popular of the existing plugins, launched by 11% of users last month. Netflix is perhaps the best known user of Silverlight, which it uses to deliver its video-on-demand service to PCs. However, the company has long stated its intention to migrate to HTML5. Google’s decision to switch off Silverlight support may give that transition a little more impetus.
Even Microsoft has distanced itself from Silverlight, failing to support it in the latest versions of Windows Phone, as it moves to delivering content in HTML5.
“Although plugin vendors are working hard to move to alternate technologies, a small number of users still rely on plugins that haven’t completed the transition yet,” says Justin Schuh, software engineer and plugin retirement planner at Google, in a Chromium blog post. “We will provide an override for advanced users (via chrome://flags/#enable-npapi) and enterprises (via Enterprise Policy) to temporarily re-enable NPAPI while they wait for mission-critical plugins to make the transition.”
However, even that workaround will be blocked off by September 2015, forcing users to look for alternative browsers if they wish to continue using the plugin technology.