Netflix Taps Microsoft’s Silverlight for Second-gen Media Player

Netflix announced today that it has begun deploying a new streaming media player based on Microsoft’s Silverlight, although only users of Intel-based Macintosh computers will be able to use the product in its initial deployment.

Currently, Netflix subscribers who wish to stream movies and television episodes to their PCs must use Internet Explorer. Silverlight, which will be rolled out to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year, will provide cross-browser compatibility. Netflix also claims that Silverlight will enable faster connections and a “more robust viewing experience…due to the quality built directly into the player,” according to today’s press release. Content will be protected by Microsoft’s PlayReady digital rights management technology.

“Silverlight with PlayReady offers a powerful and secure toolkit for delivery of dynamic streaming,” said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, “which offers faster start-up and higher quality video, adapted in real time to users’ connection speeds.” Netflix will also continue to support non-PC clients, such as the Roku Netflix Player, the LG BE300 Blu-ray disc player, and the Samsung BD-P2500 Blu-ray disc players. Support for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is expected soon, according to Netflix.

Netflix subscribers can choose from 12,000 movies and TV episodes to watch instantly, although few of those titles are new releases. The company recently announced new content deals with CBS, the Disney Channel, and Starz. Netflix counts more than 100,000 titles in its DVD library.

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