Since Netflix’s inception, Firefox users have needed to install a plugin in order to watch Netflix. Starting this week, that’s no longer necessary, at least for some users.
Yesterday Netflix announced that its HTML5 video player is now available in Firefox, making plugins a thing of the past. For now this is only available in the Windows version of the browser, though the post on the Netflix Tech Blog notes that OS X support is on the way, rolling out sometime next year.
Though this means that users no longer need to download a plugin, it still involves proprietary software. Netflix playback uses DRM, and Mozilla worked closely with Adobe to bring its Primetime Content Decryption Module (CDM) to Firefox version 43. While OS X is the only additional platform mentioned so far, the Mozilla blog post about the new feature mentions that Mozilla and Adobe plan to bring the Primetime CDM to Firefox on other operating systems in 2016.
Most users of the browser will be happy that they’re able to watch their favorite shows without the need for a plugin, but for some this may seem an ominous sign of things to come, as it means that Firefox now features a built-in DRM solution. On the other hand, Mozilla mentions that the Adobe Primetime CDM runs sandboxed, making it more secure than the previous plugin-based approach.
The HTML5 player makes use of the HTML Premium Video Extensions, which help enable its DRM through the Encrypted Media Extensions, but also include the Media Source Extensions. These allow Netflix to adapt its streams to your available bandwidth, which should make for a better viewing experience.
Now that this feature has come to Firefox, Netflix now supports HTML5 video in what it calls “all major browsers” — Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Chrome. Sorry, Opera fans.