Posted by Brian @ 9:54 pm on September 3rd 2009

How Microsoft Silverlight ruined Netflix Instant Viewing

I’ve been a Netflix customer for over a decade, and for years I’ve been using an old Compaq laptop to watch high quality streaming video from Netflix. And despite being old, the laptop was more than fast enough for the highest bitrate streaming Netflix offered. Once it a while I’d have a buffering issue, but the playback was always smooth at 1024×768 resolution.

Until tonight, when Netflix required me to install Microsoft Silverlight in order to watch streaming video. With Microsoft Silverlight installed, the video is unwatchably choppy at 1024×768 resolution – I get maybe 12 frames per second. At 800×600 it’s still choppy. And the video quality is substantially worse. I’ve gone from near-DVD quality to what looks like a badly copied VHS tape. There’s no excuse for it – this is shoddy programming from Microsoft. The old player worked fine, and other high quality streaming video works great as well.

I’ve got no problem upgrading to new technology when something better or faster comes along. I bought an iPhone 3gs recently because of the improvements from the prior models. I can’t stomach wasting money because Microsoft can’t be bothered to write quality software. My choice now seems to be, give up instant viewing, or waste hundreds of dollars on another laptop. Looks like I’m giving up instant viewing. Way to go, Microsoft. Fantastic move, Netflix.

Oh, wait. YouTube just announced they’re going to offer pay per view. And their high quality video streams great using Flash Player! Looks like Google just won over a customer.