Mozilla plans to support plugin-free streaming on Netflix and Amazon Video on Firefox for Linux starting with version 49 stable of the browser.
The streaming world is slowly moving towards using HTML5 for streaming purposes and away from using plugins such as Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe Flash.
While there is still work to be done, and Silverlight or Flash usually a fallback even on services that made the switch already, it is fair to say that plugins will be a thing of the past very soon.
The main reason for this is that browser developers have or are planing to remove support for so-called NPAPI plugins. Without support, plugins are not recognized anymore and cannot be used by sites and services to provide access to content.
Mozilla Firefox users on Windows and Mac devices may stream encrypted HTML5 video streams already. Mozilla Firefox supports two Content Decryption Modules (CDM) on Windows, and one on Mac OS X. These are loaded the first time the user opens a site that requires those to stream content to the user's device.
Adobe Primetime CDM is only available for Windows, while Google Widevine CDM is also available for Mac OS X.
This was not the case for Linux up until now, and Linux users had to manually install Silverlight on their devices to gain access to these services.
Mozilla plans to change that with the release of Firefox 49 Stable for Linux. The organization plans to integrate Google Widevine CDM in Firefox for Linux. This in turn guarantees that the technology is there to access Amazon Video and Netflix after Widevine becomes available.
Support depends on the services as well though, and it is possible that Linux users won't be able to stream videos on Netflix or Amazon Video right after the release of Firefox 49. This should work however by manipulating the user agent of the browser to Chrome for the time being.
Linux users who don't want to use Widevine can set it to never activate on the browser's about:addons page. You may also disable DRM in the browser which prevents Widevine from loading in the first place (on about:preferences#content).
There you have it. With Widevine supported on all three major desktop platforms, access to Amazon Video and Netflix is now possible for the majority of Firefox users. In fact, the one operating system that is left standing in the dust is Windows XP. (via Sören)
Now You: Good or bad for Linux? What's your take on this?
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