Microsoft: Stop using Microsoft Silverlight. (Everyone else has)

Says websites should switch to HTML5-based playback as netizens snub plugins

Microsoft is encouraging companies that use its Silverlight media format on their web pages to dump the tech in favor of newer, HTML5-based media playback systems.

"The commercial media industry is undergoing a major transition as content providers move away from proprietary web plug-in based delivery mechanisms (such as Flash or Silverlight), and replace them with unified plug-in free video players that are based on HTML5 specifications and commercial media encoding capabilities," the software giant said in a Thursday blog post.

Similarly, Redmond observed, browser makers are moving away from supporting media plugins. Google plans to drop support for the outdated Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI) later this year, while Microsoft Edge, the new browser that will ship with Windows 10, was designed not to support plugins from the get-go.

One reason is because vulnerabilities in media plugins often become vectors for web-based attacks, something to which Silverlight fell prey last year.

Instead, Microsoft and others now recommend that web developers handle video and other media playback via a number of new protocols introduced in the ongoing HTML5 standardization effort.

Among these are the Media Source Extensions (MSE) and Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and MPEG-DASH and Common Encryption (CENC) from the Motion Picture Experts Group.

The inclusion of these standards in the web's set of specs has been controversial, chiefly because their primary purpose is to allow web browsers to play DRM-encumbered streaming content. The Free Software Foundation, for one, has denounced Mozilla's decision to support them in Firefox, describing it as "shocking" and "unfortunate."

Big media companies, on the other hand, have said that unless browsers support DRM-enabled streaming directly they'll deliver their content via some other means, be it a plugin or otherwise.

Netflix, for one, has said DRM is essential to its service – and it was an early adopter of Silverlight for the purpose. Now it's transitioning to HTML5-based playback, and Microsoft would like to see other companies do the same.

"We encourage companies that are using Silverlight for media to begin the transition to DASH/MSE/CENC/EME based designs and to follow a single, DRM-interoperable encoding work flow enabled by CENC," Microsoft's Edge team wrote. "This represents the most broadly interoperable solution across browsers, platforms, content and devices going forward."

Microsoft said it will continue to support Silverlight for out-of-browser applications for the dozen or so of you who are using it for that purpose, and Silverlight will still be supported in Internet Explorer 11 if you absolutely must use it on the web. ®

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