Lovefilm drops Flash, kills Linux support

Lovefilm drops Flash, kills Linux support

Summary: The UK online film provider Lovefilm is dropping Adobe's Flash as its delivery technology in favour of Microsoft's Silverlight.The move will mean no more Lovefilm access for those running Linux/Unix systems or older Macs that use PowerPC chips rather than Intel.

TOPICS: Telcos

The UK online film provider Lovefilm is dropping Adobe's Flash as its delivery technology in favour of Microsoft's Silverlight.

The move will mean no more Lovefilm access for those running Linux/Unix systems or older Macs that use PowerPC chips rather than Intel. In a blog post on Wednesday, Lovefilm said the studios had demanded the change.

"We've been asked to make this change by the studios who provide us with the films in the first place, because they're insisting — understandably — that we use robust security to protect their films from piracy, and they see the Silverlight software as more secure than Flash," streaming project manager Paul Thompson wrote.

"Simply put: without meeting their requirements, we'd suddenly have next-to-no films to stream online," Thompson added.

The decision to drop Flash only affects PCs and Macs, not streaming to devices such as the PS3 or internet TVs.

Interestingly, Lovefilm said it had discounted the nascent HTML5 as it is open source and does not provide the digital rights management capabilities the studios want.

"HTML5 was considered, but video streaming via HTML5 is an open-sourced solution that is still maturing, and there are simply no security protections available within HTML5 that would allow us to stream content securely," Thompson said.

Lovefilm will stream in Silverlight and Flash concurrently until the first week of the new year, when users will be prompted to "make the switch".

Microsoft is poised to release Silverlight 5 at some point soon — it missed its own November deadline. However, the company is also pushing HTML5 as a preferred way of developing Windows 8 apps, and has repeatedly refused to comment on its plans for Silverlight after version 5. This has led some to speculate that this next major release may be the last.

Topic: Telcos

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Oh well. And I had just made the decision to join Lovefilm. At least one prospective Linux customer lost. Life goes on.
    The Former Moley
  • Corporate suicide, Microsoft itself drops Silverlight next year. Its like sending out all your releases on propitiatory betamax when everyone has VHS. Absolutely no-one will upgrade to watch in DRM silverlight, especially when the end of silverlight is nigh.

    Of course this leaves recording the Sat\cable\terrestrial broadcasts in the clear - good grief what made them think that they were the only show in town for non pirate content.
  • I dont think its like betamax at all

    Its a small browser plugin, not some hardware device you need to buy

    This is the issue with HTML5 though, there is no DRM specification you have to write it yourself and the other issue is most browsers dont fully implement many parts of the spec as ive been finding out myself lately
  • Hi nt1,

    Its not a matter of what browser plugin they desire at all, Silverlight is a HUGE (bloatware) application of windows 7/vista. Not many ways of recording Silverlight programs at the moment, and there will never be DRM in HTML5. Also If I want to watch films live there are proper terrestrial broadcasters who let me record my programs. If you choose Silverlight you are locked into getting a Microsoft account, and downloading endless needless updates and extra recommended Microsoft applications which slow down your computer to a crawl - its just not worth it.

    Daft as it may seem why did Lovefilm not get a licence for the BBC iplayer instead and dump the DRM?. Most of their content is old release and available free to air, even the Latest Movies can be found broadcaster watermarked with adverts.

    If I wanted to keep the film I'd buy the DVD, If I want to rent it I would loan if from the company, there is no market for paying for live rental broadcasts which cannot be recorded, paused and are likely to be stopped by the ISP with a Cap mid session, this is not a rental but live pay per view. The user has no control over the content delivery. Too many variables to trust to a DRM player on an OS which at any moment can choose to upgrade itself, crash with a corrupt frame or let a ISP which is packet managing play with the content.
  • Microsoft itself seems to be abandoning Silverlight. So I guess Lovefilm is just a rat boarding a sinking ship. Good luck with that.
  • Silverlight - or the technologies it's based on - are at the heart of Microsoft's strategy for Xbox and Windows Phone; .NET, XNA and the various layers aren't going away even though HTML5 joins them as a development platform in Windows 8 (if you're going to build a Web app, you're going to build a Web app - now it can run well on Windows so Windows looks good with Web apps). Microsoft has deals with major media providers to provide streaming servers and the DRM plugins aren't going to disappear until there's an alternative. Many Silverlight apps work in the Moonlight plugin based on Mono (open source implementation of .NET from Xamarin) by the way...

    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe
  • Silverlight never could rival flash and flash only had problems because it allowed code to run at admin level on a users pc rather than just being a media codec. Silverlight never took away the market flash held. You use it because you have to, not because it is the platform of choice. There is currently a 40 - 1 ratio of programming jobs in favor of flash.

    The only reason Adobe went into crisis was that Apple inc spurned flash, and the best way to solve that problem is with 2 flash players. One that allows active content and one that is just a media codec for playing movies, the HTML alt tag would allow rejected active flash content to be replaced by a plain flash codec. Your buttons and bars would still be animated, but activated by script. Silly really.
  • Agree totally with all posts before. not only that it is not working properly for a lot of users I have been using love films to watch streamed films on a 3g connection. try doing that now! its just buffering and losing connections. total commercial suicide. My partners account just became virtually useless to us as we really only use the DLC. Lovefilm yes, hate buffering...
  • L1ma is incredibly misinformed on Silverlight.

    1. Bloatware. Silverlight is under 10MB download and doesn't run at start-up nor in background when not in use. It's about the same size as 64-bit Flash. Not bloatware not capable of slowing your computer to a crawl.
    2. Studios don't want you recording so they see this as a benefit. While DRM isn't suported in HTML5 mainstream movies and TV's won't be using it. DRM will come.
    3. Microsoft account lock-in? Silverlight does not and never has required any form of "Microsoft account".
    4. No extra Microsoft software comes with Silveright and updates to Silverlight are quite infrequent. Indeed it only updates when a web site using Silverlight indicates it needs a newer version.

  • Dear [)amien

    Ill have to answer you in 2 parts because of space

    The download client is 6mb, to flash's 2.75mb and Microsoft does lock you in, The Genuine Windows Validation tool is part of the package for windows updates (Our account lockin - we have OEM Licences for individual 700 machines to be validated). Upgrading silverlight is part of software validation.

    This is why it is the added programs which automatically install such as C++ editors and SQL servers create Bloatware. My nice clean minimalist image becomes bloated with unwanted and unneeded windows patches and programs. Flash is also bloatware in that it constantly installs a new client bigger than the old. I find the endless updates annoying and they happen at the worst possible times for Teachers - the flash player needs to be updated just when they to about to use it in class.

    Currently we have P4 machines with 500mb - 1GB of ram running XP SP3 so any update which adds extra process to our image is a pain, we are suffering from SIM's enough, then they open word, excel and outlook with web pages from youtube.

    The reason I as a Network Technician may be so prejudiced against it is because it is so user unfriendly, flash will download and install as a plugin on a webpage, and as a player not a developer tool - there is no content (other than Lovefilms). Also If it had some free educational applications at GCSE level such as Maths software, CAD editors, etc. it would have some support, but there is nothing for the end user and no real incentive to install it. One of the big selling points of flash is that there are editors such as Fireworks and some open source packages so that we can create content. The ICT GCSE gets the best marks for Flash enabled pages. Silverlight is not even considered, most examiners have not heard of it.
  • Part 2

    Schools are OEM business account users with Microsoft, so the OEM Windows copy is validated through an account with them during software updates - our number of allowed copies is also validated and this goes wrong. Your copy of Silverlight needs a validated copy of Windows on which to run. Microsoft also favours its latest operating system, we were using Windows 2000 until 2 years ago.

    We also have a large problem with windows un-validating our software during updates, our net filters (Cheshire and Smoothwall) block communication with Microsofts validation server so we have stopped automatic updates. It is easier to re-image, the Adobe client checks for updates and will prompt the user to install a new version, our teachers can do this.

    A lot depends on where you are coming from, I have a brother who is a developer who demands that his users have all the latest Microsoft products and updates including the everything the user might or might never need just because his products 'might' make use of them 'i.e client based SQL severs' regardless if it is in the best interest of the client or not. In that term silvelight is also bundled with c**pware on new installs from manufacturers. The endless procession of new laptops and PC'S I have to uninstall it from to make them perform faster than a P4 is beyond a joke. Silverlight tends to go unless it is needed, and it is tied into too many unneeded applications.

    Ill add this last comment - a failed update of flash only means you have to uninstall the flash client. A failed update of any Microsoft product is far more serious. Office has had to have special tools developed to remove it when it corrupts itself.

    Hope this answers everything, I have been ranting on ZDNET a bit too long this weekend
    Thank you for your post
  • @L1ma
    During installation, Silverlight does 'ask' to Enable Microsoft Update, yes it does do it in a way that means Microsoft Update/Genuine Advantage, as opposed to Windows Update is easily enabled. (Yes, they are different) But it is opt-in, but as typical of many installers nowadays, by placing at the end of the install - easily selected as 'Yes', as you rush though the process. It's also worded as though you are just enabling updates for Sliverlight, but being a Microsoft Product, this means enabling the full blown Microsoft Update.

    Sadly its a common theme of the modern installer- and no worse than the default settings of Adobe Flash 11 installer for IE8 - Installing Google Chrome alongside, as the default option while installing Flash.

    But agree having Microsoft Update as opposed to Windows Update can blight you with additional updates and unnecessary hoops to jump through.

    In Windows XP, it is possible to have just Windows Update enabled, but you have to avoid manually using Microsoft's IE Windows Update Web Page, avoid installing 'Get Microsoft Update', and avoid Microsoft Genuine Advantage and just use 'Automatic Updates' within the Control Panel set to ''Notify me but don't automatically download or install them'. Part of the problem is on release- IE7 forced validation, but this was later removed from the IE7 installer.

    Its a lot easier said than done, but for the setup in question, having an Restore Image that just uses Windows Update set as above (and avoiding Genuine Advantage optional install), as opposed to Microsoft Update might be worth pursuing.
  • Thanks SoapyTablet

    Just have to find a way of stopping teachers installing toolbars on their profiles. All they need is to have another Google helper agent forcing IE to wait for a response.

    Ill also add that we are very big fans of the BBC Iplayer, which is a secure(ish) Flash player for DRM content.
  • Neither installing Silverlight nor enabling Windows Update will cause any C++ editors or SQL Server installation.

    About the only way you could be exposed to those is if you are trying to choose the Microsoft Web Platform installer and even then they are optional installs. Silverlight does not require any of that nor offer it via its own installer.

  • Hi [)amien

    This is a Windows 7/ Vista question - I don't support them yet, however I find users are bringing all their manufacturers PCs with windows 7/Vista in with the added bumff on including your platform installer by default, Toshiba Dell and HP are the chief culprits. Which is why I have to remove them, including the unhelpful help agents, Ebay toolbars, 30 day trials of office etc. Dual core machines should run faster than Celeron's.

    Because they are home machines they are set to automatically update, so they get whatever Microsoft Chooses to put on them, updates are downloaded first onto Vista/ Windows 7 and the user is usually finds out if/he she bothers to look later and users agree to install anything.

    That's why its called Automatic Updates, I am writing this on a Windows 7 laptop with .net 4 and C++ windows distribute-able which was installed even though I disabled updates altogether and have been deleting the installs. I just turn the thing off and installing updates appears. Sometimes users are just not given a choice - nanny knows best.
  • I think you ought to get to the bottom of how that software is getting installed before appropriating blame to innocent parties (Silverlight). Web Platform Installer is normally only used by developers. I'd personally pave those Dell/Toshiba/HP machines with a clean Windows 7 install and just add any missing drivers with minimal downloads from their support sites.
  • Microsoft innocent, please. The laughter.
  • @L1ma, the C++ redistributables are more than likely related to Cyberlink PowerDVD / Corel WinDVD (Depending on which is installed) given the types of install you have.
    The Microsoft C++ Redistributable is used by newer versions of Cyberlink PowerDVD / Corel WinDVD, with Windows XP its best to stick to Cyberlink PowerDVD Version 7.x, ie. downgrade to this version.

    The free open source VLC Player is a much better media player for most things nowadays.

    Best advice: Keep things simple, install as little as possible.

    Do as damieng says, start from a blank canvass and build up the base image. There are several tools DriverMax etc to backup existing obscure drivers such as card readers etc from a working system, though most intel/system drivers its best to install from support sites. Check the support sites for drivers first, and work out which ones you'll be missing on a new install, then attempt to back these up from the working system, beforehand.

    Always image (Acronis True Image or Paragon HDM 2011) the machine beforehand, so you can easily get back to where you started.

    As you install software, make image backups approx every 1-2 hours, depending on how much configuration changes you have made. Its hard work but you can get there in the end, and save a fair amount of time in support.
  • Hi SoapyTablet,

    I tend not to re-install a new laptop because it is still under warranty, unless I have a valid equivalent legit copy of the OS, which never happens because the manufacturer's stopped supplying OS disks for a lot of models, and teachers throw them away. These are the times when bittorrent is a godsend.

    But yes weird and wonderful things get put on these machines that only a clean install makes right.

    I am using Windows Enterprise at the moment to create the schools future Image (1 - 2 Yrs from now after XP is laid to rest) and for training. Sometimes it is possible to install this under the schools license on a teachers laptop which is modern enough.
  • Moley> Oh well. And I had just made the decision to join Lovefilm. At least one
    Moley> prospective Linux customer lost. Life goes on.

    Make that at least 2 Moley. We stayed at a friends house the other weekend and had decided that we would sign up in December and get some flimage in for Chrimble. If I can't use it on Linux then I can't use it. We no longer have any Windows machines in the house. The laptops, the internet gateway and even the telly are all Fedora machines. Thanks for the heads up ZDNet, that has saved me some heartache.
    Andrew Meredith