Now is a serious rival to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, but it has one annoying disadvantage if you usually watch on your desktop or laptop: you have to download a dedicated app, rather than stream videos from your web browser.

That makes it a bit more fiddly to watch Now on Windows than it is to use a rival streaming service, but once you get everything set up the first time it's mostly painless. Here's how.

How to install the Now app on Windows

First up, if you want to watch Now you'll need to be a subscriber. Unlike Netflix or Amazon, Now doesn't offer a single subscription to cover all its content - instead you have to sign up for one of five plans: the Entertainment, Cinema, Kids, Sky Sport, or Hayu (reality TV).

Prices vary between the plans, but there are free trials for most, and a few other ways to get Now for free or cheap, so that you can test them out and see what you think.

Once you're signed up you can watch on Now's various Android, iPhone, and smart TV apps, or even one of its dedicated Smart Stick streaming devices, but the process is a little different for Windows.

Frustratingly, Now doesn't allow you to stream video through Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or any other web browser - even though you can use the website to browse the available shows and films. Instead, the first time you try to watch on your PC you'll see a pop-up appear:

If you don't already have the app you'll want to click 'Download'. If you get this wrong and accidentally close the pop-up - or just want to go straight to the download - this link will automatically download the Windows version of the player, or you can download it direct from the Windows Store.

Next you need to actually install the player, which is much like any other Windows program. Find the file (likely in Downloads), open it and it should begin installing immediately. So just click through the installer, follow the steps as usual, and it should be ready to use.

Now you need to go back to your web browser, and open the tab with whatever you were trying to watch in the first place, where you should see a new pop-up. Tick to confirm that you've installed the Now software, then click 'Start Watching'. If you've closed the window, or had downloaded the player from the link above, you can go straight to the page of something you want to watch. Now should automatically detect the player, and if not click 'I already have this' to reach the next screen:

The first time you try to watch something, you should see another pop-up from your browser to confirm that you want to open the Now Player app. It should look something like below, but will vary based on your browser and Windows version. Make sure to tick the checkbox if you want to avoid this confirmation pop-up next time:

Believe it or not, there's then one final pop-up to go - this time it's Windows double-checking you do want to open the Player. Again, click 'Open' to confirm that you do, and you shouldn't see this one again. With a bit of luck, at this point the Now Player will open and begin automatically playing the TV show or film that you'd selected.

It's worth noting at this point that the next time you want to watch something on Now, you still need to go to the website first. The Now app for Windows is purely a video player, and doesn't let you browse the library at all, so every time you want to watch something you need to browse on the website to choose what you want to watch. Click play and it should then automatically open the Player app - and if not, just click 'I already have this' when the download pop-up appears.

Finally, check out our guide to the best movies on Now if you're looking for a little inspiration about what to watch.