I’ve recently received word that Netflix will start offering a “watch it now” feature, which will stream movies to subscribers’ computers. You can watch a demonstration of it at Hacking Netflix.
Being a 4-DVD Netflix subscriber myself, I decided to investigate. In their FAQ, they already list the system requirements as “Windows XP or later” and “Internet Explorer 6 or later.” In other words, no Linux or Mac OS’s allowed.
Even if you are naive enough to have a computer that runs windows, you still won’t be able to watch the movie on your TV, thanks to Windows Media DRM. You won’t be able to burn it to a DVD (even temporarily) or transfer it to another computer (if you happen to have an HTPC). If you HTPC is running MythTV, Freevo, Geexbox, or even AppleTV, you’re out of luck.
I don’t blame Netflix for setting the standard. That was undoubtedly set by the MPAA. They don’t want people doing “whatever they want” with their movies (even though people do anyway). So, they place ridiculous restrictions on any legal services, causing many people to rely on the illegal channels (which are much more user-friendly and platform independent).
Until Netflix does something more revolutionary, instead of being subservient to the movie industry, you can expect many people, especially the increasing number of non-windows users, to turn to file-sharing, such as BitTorrent.
Dear Netflix, thanks for nothing.