Episodic television and film content delivered over IP would not be possible without Digital Rights Management (DRM). Implemented correctly, it is invisible to viewers and provides a seamless user experience.

Chrome and Silverlight
The Silverlight browser plugin has been an enabler to give consumers secure access to content. Although Sliverlight’s low penetration rates often required users to perform an additional installation or upgrade step, the reward of getting access to high quality content was often worth it.

Google is now taking steps to deprecate browser plugins in Chrome browser. This transition began with a blog post in September 2013, with the Google Chrome team announcing the deprecation of NPAPI, the interface used by plugins in the Chrome browser, including the Silverlight plugin. Because it has been embedded into the Chrome browser within a secure sandbox environment using the Pepper interface, and is auto-updated and protected by the Chrome browser, Flash Player has not been affected by the changes in Chrome.

NPAPI support will be completely removed from Chrome. We expect this to happen before the end of 2014. – (Google Chrome team)

This means by end of this year Silverlight will stop functioning in the Chrome browser, which represents roughly a 45% audience based on June 2014 browser statistics.

Meanwhile OSX is getting an upgrade to the 64-bit version of Chrome, which is now removing the support for 32-bit plugins.

The new version, though, drops support for 32-bit plug-ins — software like Microsoft’s Silverlight or Adobe Systems’ Flash Player that extend a browser’s abilities. Chrome has its own version of Adobe’s Flash Player built in, which means the most-used plug-in isn’t a problem, but others won’t work. (via CNET)

Although Silverlight has a 64-bit version for Windows, it does not have the equivalent for OSX, meaning 64-bit Chrome users on Mac won’t have access to Silverlight-protected content. Silverlight-enabled premium content will not work in certain Chrome browser configurations, even before the support of the Silverlight plugin in Chrome officially ends towards end of this year.

The migration path
To avoid a suboptimal viewer experience given the expected changes, Silverlight-based players need to migrate to a new technology platform for content protection.

There are three paths to enable DRM protection for users in a post-Silverlight world:

  • Switch to an HTML5-based DRM solution for all browsers. This currently requires licensing different DRM solutions for each browser. For Mozilla Firefox the DRM HTML5 technology is Adobe Primetime DRM.
  • Switch to Adobe Primetime for DRM protection, and use a single DRM solution across all browsers, mobile platforms, gaming consoles, and OTT devices. Use Flash Player to cover DRM for desktop browsers.
  • Deploy a hybrid model with a mix of Flash/Silverlight for certain browsers, and HTML5 DRM for others. As example, Primetime DRM for HTML5 for Firefox, and Primetime DRM with Flash Player for all other browsers.

Given that multiple DRMs create more complexity for licensing and infrastructure, Adobe Primetime DRM is the only solution that provides a single DRM environment on the desktop. In addition, Adobe Primetime DRM can be used for mobile platforms, gaming consoles and OTT devices, providing a highly simplified content protection workflow.

Adobe Primetime DRM is part of the DECE, and was recently named the market leader for DRM technologies by ABIresearch.

Silverlight is going away. Thankfully there are options on the market to provide a smooth transition for users, but it requires a migration, and the time to act is now.

Jens Loeffler

Author of Overdigital.net. The views/posts are my personal opinion.


83 comments on “Silverlight Won’t Work In Chrome. What Now?

  1. Hello, very interesting. The immediate approach would be to move towards Widevine
    for Chrome browser (it is free). Why haven´t you considered it into your analysis? do
    you have any bad references?

    1. If you are referring to Widevine HTML5 in Chrome, yes, that is bullet #1. There is also a desktop helper app for Widevine in combination with Flash, but I don’t see that as a good user experience and can’t recommend it as secure.

        1. The DRM system that sits in the core of Flash Player is Primetime DRM / Adobe Access. Due to the nature of DRM, it’s the only way to truly secure content within the Flash runtime.

          1. Primetime Player (TVSDK) on desktop uses Flash Player, and some Primetime specific features such as HLS with DRM.

          2. Right but it’s a sep product from the Flash Player. It’s called the Primetime Player if you license it. The Flash Player doesn’t support DRM anymore.

          3. Flash Player (e.g. with OSMF) supports DRM, nothing changed. DRM requires an additional license server (Adobe Access), and in most cases it makes more sense to use the new player as part of it.

          4. Adobe Access is the old platform. Primetime is the new platform and requires the Primetime player which is of course based on the Flash Player. Have you heard otherwise from Adobe?

          5. You can still use OSMF for DRM, but Adobe Access is now Primetime DRM, and the recommended player is the Primetime TVSDK player. Has better performance and more features. I’ll have a blog post on this soon.

          6. I think we are close here. You can _only_ use the Primetime Player with Primetime DRM though yes?

          7. OSMF can work with e.g. Primetime Cloud DRM, but Primetime Player is recommended which uses a better and more modern architecture.

  2. Um or you could just tell your users use FireFox or Safari or IE or Opera. It’s that simple. There is no difference in playback quality.

      1. 🙂 Users don’t care what browser they are using. Look at how many apps users download to their phones. There’s _zero_ user benefit to using Chrome over another browser when playing back content using Silverlight.

          1. I get used to a browser, I’ve used them all, Safari, Firefox, Chrome. I have decided I like Chrome the best.

          2. I agree. But I won’t mind cracking open FireFox to watch video content. It’s not a big deal really.

        1. I’m sure users care about the browser they use. That’s like saying people don’t care which OS they use. We all know that people prefer one over the other and being forced to switch is pretty crappy. Personally, I would love to use Chrome for all programs and applications because it’s my preferred browser, but I will resign myself to use others because I know there are people who think we should all use Firefox or I.E. or Safari…..

    1. I found this article because I was trying to figure out why I could no longer use Chrome with my Cable TV feed. I’m kinda bummed as it’s my preferred browser. Now I’ll have to go back to FireFox… At least to watch video.

  3. The company I work for is switching from Chrome to Firefox at the start of the new year. We actually have applications that are built around Silverlight that won’t be updated until 2018, at the earliest. The biggest one is our ERP system; the user-facing portion is built in Silverlight. And we can’t stop working from now until 2018, so…

  4. This is Clive from the Adobe Primetime group. If your interested in getting more information on how were assisting publishers with their Silverlight/Chrome related issues I can be reach – clhenry (at) adobe.com.

  5. I would have liked to read this article, but the ridiculous JavaScript scroll on this website is giving me a headache. Why on earth is it you think your website should decide how I scroll? I configured my OS to scroll as I liked it.

    Before you add bullshit like this to your website, you should probably consider whether it actually adds any value at all. Protip: It doesn’t.

      1. Your site is unviewable in Safari 5. Page blanks. Pathetic for technology advocates. A bit of backward compatibility is the minimum of competence and civility.

  6. Once again Google f***s the rest of us for no reason whatsoever.

    Thank you, our Malevolent Overlords, for your decision to once again uninlaterally take away from us.

    1. Not Google, Microsoft. And content providers not getting off of Silverlight in advance despite plenty of warning.

      MS announced the end of Silverlight way back in 2011. Content providers have had plenty of time to move off of it since then. Netflix dumped it over a year ago.

      Likewise NPAPI and 32-bit are really old technologies riddled with problems including security ones and the fact that no mobile or tablet supports them. There were only a very small number of legacy plugins that actually used this technology. Silverlight is one of the last. And why is that? Because MS stopped developing it over three years ago. Google are right to dump it for users’ security if nothing else.

      And content providers need to get off of Silverlight anyway if they hope to provide content to non-desktop users as Silverlight has never been a solution there. The above alternatives are much better multi-platform options all round.

      MS pushed content owners hard for Silverlight to try and win a war against Flash. They signed them into stupid contracts and content providers basically ended up without a choice.

      Blame MS and the content owners for a stupid, aggressive, draconian and ultimately failed strategy that only made things worse for consumers.

        1. Would you clarify which bits? I can find nothing in that wikipedia article that contradicts what I outlined.

        2. When you don’t know what you’re talking about, you shouldn’t be mouthing off to those who do. Peter is correct.

      1. That’s all lies, and I’m sure you know that.

        Seeing as Amazon has *just* rolled out Silverlight, you don’t know what you’re talking about if it’s not lies.

        Can’t stand self-righteous pricks on their own personal crusade against “evil” Microsoft (or Google, or Apple).

        Get a life.

        1. Earnest your ignorance is amazing. I work for a company that develops software. Silverlight will be discontinued without question.. So get your facts straight… BTW I am an MSCE… So “prick” on that.

          There will always be companies that want to keep old technologies working… and you will never see what is going on behind closed doors in companies…. I have no crusade here.. I use all OSes and have done so for over 25 years…. (How old did you say you were 😉 ) What I hate is kiddies that involve themselves into a subject, start a fight, and bever understand that you cant hear if your talking, and you cant learn if you think you know everything…. Stay neutral and weigh the facts….. Understand the pros and cons… See the effects of the decisions made ( MS, Apple, Android) and then see if you can find a way to transition the problem into a solution. If you can help find a solution great, if you cant “close mouth and open ears”…

          1. Learn to read, how are you going to cite a website source that you didn’t even pay attention to? It says they will support silverlight until 2021 or until the underlying browsers life cycle ends, whichever is shorter. Not to mention silverlight 2 on that list has a whopping 2 year support cycle, the page gets updated whenever they stop supporting shit, 2021 is just their estimate.

          2. Would you mind reading what you wrote because it’s you who could use some literary help. It says on their page and I quote “though the support life cycle of the underlying browsers, whichever is shorter.” So you expected them to provide support beyond the support life cycle of browsers. Seriously are you a moron??? What does support life cycle mean??? Please get your head checked. Of course like other technologies they’ll be providing support for newer browsers, but that will depend on the browsers so they can’t make promises. Or do you expect them to know the future as well??? Are you retarded? And of course they wouldn’t be providing support for older versions of Silverlight. And why would you expect them to. As for your saying “is just their estimate” they never said that. Where did you get that info? Or have you been sucking Satya Nadella’s c__k.

          3. MSCE <= GED …But it's impressive you've been using computers for 25 years. So has my grandma.

      2. I agree with you, the problem is many businesses have built Silverlight based Intranets and such.

        This makes Chromium based browsers impossible to use with these sites.

      3. Silverlight end of life was not officially announced in 2011, it was speculated in 2013, and announced in 2014. This is not a microsoft thing since NPAPI is a Netscape Protocol API. It is a google thing since all other browsers provide support for NPAPI.

  7. OK I have read all the comments and still not sure where I need to go to download a silverlight compatible for my chrome laptop

  8. In the last week I have had to use i.e. for about 5 sites, including my tax software site. It’s not MY choice that they are using silverlight. I’ve also had trouble with wav files and pdf readers. Is google TRYING to get me to migrate off of chrome?

  9. it’s “only” Chrome users on OSX who get fucked up by Google. I’m one of them… and stupid Sky won’t update their site in 10 years to drop Silverlight. Microsoft probably won’t hurry to bring 64-bit Silverlight to OSX either and Google… well.. is just Google. They don’t care. All hail the technology.

  10. I just saw this. This is the problem with this situation.

    Google have not only completely stuffed up everyone with silverlight although I refuse to use that crap personally they have killed off their own Widevine DRM solution completely without any concern whatsoever about content providers. Nobody has been able to migrate to widevine DASH which ONLY works on Chrome and IE11. The DRM provider doesn’t even have widevine dash packaging functioning yet months after they killed it off. This is an absolute disgrace.

    there are other people than just Netflix and I don’t even believe they are using that technology. clear key DRM is rediculous and insecure they are absolute idiots thinking it’s ready.

    They killed something that was working with something that isn’t and now people have to provide a completely different solution and repackage ALL their files just for chrome ? They also lose a few features just for chrome like local playback support and their trickplay feature. Seriously LOL WHAT A JOKE.

    Html5 DRM is a JOKE and not ready until ALL browsers support such crap including byte appending. Also WHY is there a need for bloaty javascript players anyway ?? Why not just implement directly into the browser code ?

    It’s never going to happen or be standard they are kidding themselves. Firefox won’t even support h264 codec watch. How many different formats do people really have to supply LOL.


      1. Don’t shoot the messenger 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, the encryption “standard” will be the future assuming it’s widevine dash as clearkey encryption like for HLS is stupid and hackable. What I’m saying it’s barely ready, experimental, just like dash so hardly a reason to prematurely pull the plug on everything.

        I believe the gamers are now having problems with Unity too same issue.

        They are terrible arrogant architects.

        Now I’ve just found out they are with no reason at all pulling the plugin on their youtube flash api somehow expecting people using flash players and applications to use their javascript iframe api’s instead ? where is the logics in that 🙂 it’s going to break so many systems using this. They are hardly even contactable to figure out work around solutions as I provide flash and html5 plugin versions for video players. People still need flash for a reason, the multi format issue for html5 for one. Even youtube still use Flash because of dash only working on chrome 😀

  11. For a fix:

    1. Navigate to URL chrome://flags in Chrome.
    2. Click ‘Enable’ under Enable NPAPI Mac, Windows
    3. Restart the browser. User will now be able to Add Photos after selecting to enable the Silverlight plugin.

    1. This worked for me on 4-19-15. Thanks.
      Why do all of you have to make every issue a pissing contest? We public are just looking for a work around and thankfully 5 Eyes provided it.

    2. here we go, once again, the fix that works for everyone does not work for me.. why always me god? Macbook Pro Mid 2010, Chrome latest.

      1. You probably need to goo the 3 horizontal line in the top right corner goto settings , then scroll all the way down show advance settings , then content settings then manage individual plugins and set in silverlight always allow

          1. I happen to have exactly the same problem – I have no “silverlight” plugin in the list, although my compyter said this plugin is already installed.

    3. This is only a temporary fix. They are dropping this in an already announced future version. Then it’s Bye-Bye Chrome.

  12. Yeah, looks like you’re pretty hilariously wrong about Silverlight going away, seeing as Amazon Prime has just added it and started pushing users to open a different browser and use Silverlight.

  13. This SUX. We use SL for internal apps. It’s a fantastic platform for robust business applications. The fact that ANY developer would actually enjoy coding in HTML and js blows my mind.

    I re-enabled NPAPI (whatever the Hell that is) on my chrome and am back in business … FOR NOW.

    If NPAPI was good enough for prime time this long, don’t tell me it’s no longer safe and remove it to protect myself from myself!

  14. Unfortunately, the best solution to this problem is to stop using chrome in favor of IE or Firefox which are better browsers anyway.

  15. deprecate??? What are you talking about? Is that the best word you could find for your purpose?

    1. Dude, that’s the proper technical term for declaring a component/library obsolete – no longer the preferred means to a given end – a (newer) replacement supplanting the obsoleted technology. What are YOU talking aboot?

  16. Typical Google arrogance. I will be dropping Chrome. Their “replacement” for Adobe Reader is totally inadequate for my uses. Don’t get me wrong I’m no big fan of the latest version Reader but the Google version is weak. And if they think I can just give up using Outlook they are sadly mistaken. Bye-Bye Chrome.

  17. I just stumbled upon this article, and I am laughing at all the people saying screw Google and Amazon is using silverlight and blah blah…well Amazon is HTML5 now, and MS doesn’t even support silverlight in their new Edge browser. I didn’t realize something like silverlight could even have fanboys…

    1. I get to watch video in browsers all day. Some is testing; video quality on screen and all the BS browsers do to video, including buffer write stall and just plain crappy support. The rest of my time is spent as End User.

      Chrome Version 49.0.2623.110 (64-bit) on iMac plays Amazon video without Silverlight. In flags there is no switch for Flash. Since this machine edits video I will not update to apple “newest” that breaks most of my tools. No big deal.

      However, Safari on this machine plays Amazon video with Silverlight and other ondemand video (comcast) in flash. Still no big deal.

      Currently HTML5 playback is a little sparkly and fast motion is in need of work. Controls for user are lame but hopefully that improves. Flash is something that got video out when hardware was limited. Now in order to safely use flash it must be locked down, handcuffed with the result: Kills browser by using too much cpu.

      As my last word: How wants Ransomware event?

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