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Lovefilm dumps Flash, BLINDS Linux fans with Silverlight

Tough love when it comes to streaming movies online

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Lovefilm has sensationally ditched Flash in favour of Microsoft's Silverlight technology, in a move that snubs Linux users and appeases film studios.

The Amazon-owned company revealed yesterday that it had effectively been strong-armed by the movie industry into agreeing to dump the Flash software it had been using to stream film to its customers.

Lovefilm tried to cushion the blow to its punters by penning a toe-curling blog post that admitted from the outset that the decision to ditch Flash was going to be very bad news indeed for some of its customer base.

"Change is always tricky. Not many of us like it, it can be unsettling, and most of us would prefer things to stay just as they are. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be how life works," it said.

"The software that streams our films online is a case in point – it will soon be moving from Flash to a system called Silverlight."

Lovefilm went on to explain that movie studios had requested that the company, whose main business involves posting DVDs out to its subscribers, beef up the technology it uses to stream films online.

That particular arm of the biz has been growing since Lovefilm was bought by Amazon in January this year.

"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," Lovefilm said.

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

The company said the technology switcheroo wouldn't affect or apply to PS3, iPad, internet TVs and other streaming devices. But PCs, laptops and Macs will no longer be able to access online versions of movies provided to Lovefilm customers via the Flash plugin.

And, unsurprisingly, Linux fans are enraged.

Lovefilm said that it was "very regrettably" snubbing customers who have aged non-Intel Macs or computers running Linux/UNIX distros.

"HTML 5 was considered, but video streaming via HTML 5 is an open-sourced solution that is still maturing, and there are simply no security protections available within HTML 5 that would allow us to stream content securely," it claimed.

According to the company, which also cited better quality streaming for the reason to switch to Microsoft's software instead of HTML 5, most Lovefilm customers already have Silverlight installed on their systems.

And, even worse for Linux fans, the changes are coming very soon.

Lovefilm will continue to provide its streaming service on Flash software only until the first week of January 2012.

Apparently, this gives every customer enough time to "switch".

The company emailed its customers after the corporate blog post about the planned tech change went live.

It offered an apology, of sorts.

"Sorry for any inconvenience caused by this change – if we could have kept both software systems running, we would have – and if you are affected, we hope that you can still enjoy our streaming service on another device."

One customer, Mike H, complained in the comment section of Lovefilm's blog post:

I find this move to SilverLight to be ridiculous. As it is, I am not a Windows or Mac user, but an Android and Linux-based customer, and have been enjoying this service for the past couple of years.

The move to Silverlight is making me think about jumping ship to Netflix when it starts in the new year here in the UK. They already have support for Android Tablets, which you do not.

Talk about not moving with the times, and Silverlight is about to become as defunct as Flash will be to mobile devices... in fact you’ve become one of the minority, joining Sky, to use this system that's pretty useless. Well done on the smartest decision to slow the progress of your viewer-ship. You should seriously consider HTML 5, and be a pioneer, helping to develop its security.

A really disappointed, and once loyal customer.

Others also commented on reports that Microsoft is preparing to sunset its Silverlight product. It's a rumour that Redmond has refused to deny... ®

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