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Netflix keeps edging away from Silverlight, Microsoft’s multimedia plugin.

The streaming media giant today announced that it’s switching to HTML5 video in Safari on OS X Yosemite, Apple’s new operating system for Mac. That means the Mac crowd will be able to stream Netflix videos without installing any external plugins — they’ll be able to just load the page and start watching.

By switching over to HTML5, Netflix majorly reduces the CPU load required to stream video. On laptops, that means longer battery life. Netflix says a MacBook Air streaming 1080p Netflix content using HTML5 will last two hours longer than it would with Silverlight.

OS X Yosemite is already available to Mac Developer Program members, who can boot up Safari and watch HTML5 videos on Netflix starting today. The rest of us will have to wait until the Yosemite public beta launches this summer.

Last year, Netflix switched from Silverlight to HTML5 video in Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1.

Netflix was able to make the switch on Mac, it says, because Apple implemented the three HTML5 Premium Video Extensions in Safari on OS X Yosemite, like Microsoft did last year for IE11. The media source extensions keep the video pipeline optimized; the encrypted media extensions protect the content so pirates can’t rip it off Netflix; and the Web Cryptography API enables Netflix to encrypt and decrypt information between its JavaScript app and its servers.

With Apple and Microsoft supporting its plugin-free vision, Netflix’s next target is most likely Google and its massively popular Chrome browser, as well as the still-popular Firefox browser from Mozilla.


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