Netflix “Watch Instantly” Now Available to Mac Users

In true trick-or-treat fashion, Netflix announced Friday that the first beta phase of its new streaming player is over. Mac (and PC) users can now opt in to use the new Silverlight player as part of the next beta phase.

Existing customers can simply visit www.netflix.com/silverlightoptin to opt in to the new player. After a one-button click and a quick download of Silverlight, you’re all set to go. However, there are a few things to be aware of before you make the jump.

  1. The player is still in beta, so there may be bugs.
  2. Not all movies are available to watch in Silverlight. There’s no mention as to how many movies are ready to view, but after opting in I didn’t notice a radical reduction in the number of titles available. I’m assuming they covered the most popular titles and are leaving “High School Musical 3 1/2″ until later.
  3. The new player only works on Intel-based Macs.
  4. Once you opt in, you must use Silverlight on all your machines to access the “watch instantly” feature. There will no longer be a difference between watching it on your Mac and watching it on your PC.

Having spent a few hours with the new player last night and this morning I am very impressed. Playback has been flawless, video quality is about the same, and the Silverlight interface is impressive and smooth. I haven’t encountered any bugs yet when fast forwarding or switching to full screen mode. I just hope that this jump to a single platform will mean Netflix can now concentrate on improving the selection of “watch instantly” titles.

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