Windows Media Center still isn’t dead, but the official Netflix plugin for it has been dead for over a week now. Marc Davis, the developer behind popular Media Center plugin AmazonMCE, has released a potential fix to restore the lost functionality. He’s also announced a new plugin that should serve to be a much better long-term solution.
Earlier this week Mr. Davis issued a post with instructions for fixing the missing Netflix plugin in Windows Media Center. The fix involved downloading a copy of the plugin that he had found on a machine that had not been updated after the official removal on September 15th. At the DMZ, we’re not big fans of software being distributed by those who don’t own the license. We discussed that on the latest episode of Entertainment 2.0, and Davis heard our concerns.
Davis updated his post to include a new solution. The new download attempts to find the files needed by the Netflix plugin on your machine. It seems that sometimes the update doesn’t fully clean up after itself, and his process can find the old files and restore them. This new option should ease concerns of those who didn’t like the idea of downloading Microsoft software from a non-licensed entity.
While both of these options for restoring the Netflix plugin should help users right now, it’s not known how long they will continue to work. This plugin uses the Silverlight-based video streams, and Netflix has been migrating most of their apps to use HTML5 instead. When Netflix finally pulls the plug on Silverlight this Windows Media Center plugin will almost certainly break.
The good news is that Davis is working on a brand new Netflix plugin for Media Center users. It will be based off of Netflix’s HTML5 sources, so it won’t be left out to dry when the Silverlight feeds go away. He’s also going to handle authentication differently than how he does with his AmazonMCE plugin. The Netflix plugin will just be hosting the browser version of Netflix inside of Windows Media Center.
This means you won’t be providing the app developer with your login credentials. (Update: This was worded poorly. As the developer noted in the comments below, AmazonMCE doesn’t provide the developer with your Amazon credentials. Some people have concerns over providing credentials through third-party apps though. This won’t be a concern with the Netflix plugin that he is developing. Our apologies for misconstruing how AmazonMCE handles authentication.) Of course the website doesn’t currently support remote controls, and having remote control support is critical in a Media Center plugin. That’s the main area where Davis is focusing his attention. Hopefully he finds a way for us to sign in to the Netflix site once, and then use a remote control for the rest of experience.
While the news is somewhat mixed, at least there are options for Windows Media Center users who still want access to Netflix content. Keep an eye on the DMZ for any further developments.