It’s official! As of today Silverlight is now supported within Windows Media Center. Microsoft just announced the immediate availability of the Netflix service on Windows Media Center for Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate. Under the hood, this is the same Silverlight-based service that users can get from www.netflix.com. To use it on Windows Media Center, you need to be a subscriber to Netflix and you need to have Silverlight installed on your PC. As shown below, a new Netflix tile now appears under TV + Movies in the Media Center UI.
On first use, you’ll be prompted to install Silverlight 2 if it’s not already on your machine. After signing into your account, you’ll quickly realize that the UI has been optimized for the Windows Media Center experience. While you still have access to the Netflix catalog of over 100,000 DVDs and the ability to search and add any movie to your DVD queue, the interface is designed to make discovery and playback of the 12,000+ “Watch Instantly” titles easy. Windows Media Center has also exposed their recommended category list which allows you to quickly find the movies and TV shows that you want to watch. Whether your Windows Media Center is sitting on your lap or hooked directly up to your TV, the UI works equally well. It even works with any Windows Media Center-compatible remote control.
From a consumer’s standpoint the best thing about this implementation is that you get the same great Silverlight-based adaptive streaming experience transparently protected by PlayReady DRM that Netflix offers from their website, but it’s integrated into the Windows Media Center experience. That means you can easily navigate to a variety of content from different providers without having to jump around to various websites. In Windows 7, it gets even better with the addition of a new EPG that integrates both TV programming and Internet content. This furthers Windows Media Center’s goal of being the best place to watch TV on the PC.
For content providers like Netflix, Silverlight support in Windows Media Center means they can leverage most, if not all, of their previous Silverlight development work to reach a large potential audience. Windows Media Center is available on a majority of the 180 million Windows Vista licenses sold worldwide. Windows Media Center has over 13 million unique users per month, who spend about 90 minutes in Media Center per session. Technically, Silverlight just plugs into Windows Media Center the same way it plugs into a web browser, so it supports all the features of Silverlight. However, that doesn’t mean that any content provider can make their Silverlight application available in Windows Media Center.
We look forward to the Windows Media Center team adding more Silverlight-based content experiences in the future.
Tim Harader Sr. Product Manager Silverlight Media