Microsoft Silverlight

When we think all standards, tools and frameworks for web on the client was already invented and now its time to spread its use, Microsoft comes with a “new” thing: Silverlight.

Silverlight logoSilverlight has same functionality of Adobe Flash. You install it on your desktop system and it works as a browser plugin. Silverlight leverages proprietary .NET, thus it is proprietary too.

When it says cross platform, read Windows and Mac only.

Development tools are Microsoft only.

My advise is to stay away from Microsoft Silverlight or any Mono reimplementation as Moonlight (as noted by Roberto Teixeira in comments). It will lock you in into proprietary technologies.

These are some alternatives (name in bold) for such an impressive interactive web functionality:

  • JavaFX [home] should be considered as a trully open standards alternative. Altough it is as new as Silverlight, JavaFX leverages all mature Java ecossystem.
  • SVG+JavaScript. A true and mature W3C standard for advanced 2D graphics presented as a XML dialect embedable in web pages. With the addition of DOM capabilities of well known JavaScript, SVG can have provide advanced animations. Drawbacks here are lack of user friendly graphical development and animation tools. SVG does not provide multimedia, but this type of content can be used leveraging the regular media player (and its browser plugins) the user has installed on its system.
  • Althought YouTube and other great online video services use Flash to deliver multimedia content, Flash is generally known as evil for web applications. But if you need such a fat client for web, Flash is more cross platform, cross browser and widely used than Silverlight.
  • Plain AJAX can also deliver high impact interactiveness. Its capabilities are similar to SVG above.

As happened with Real versus Microsoft media formats, and Java versus .NET, it is expected that when Silverlight gets more popular, the Flash plugin will be removed from default Windows installations (forcing users to explicitly install it), considered as non-strategic (or a competitor) for Microsoft.

11 thoughts on “Microsoft Silverlight”

  1. Microsoft does not control “default Windows installations”, because people don’t buy computers from Microsoft. They buy them from Dell, HP, Lenovo, or some smaller vendor. Microsoft can’t make the vendors take Flash out, and the vendors have no incentive to ship a less useful machine.

  2. Joe, I mean Microsoft would remove Flash from its distribution CD.

    So if you go today to a store, buy a box of Windows CD, Flash is there and gets installed by default. As Real player and Java was in the past.

  3. Flash, JavaFX, bah, why don’t you recommend the real open standard for this purpose, the one recommended by the W3C, and perfectly readable and writable with Free Software: SVG!

  4. Kevin, good point.

    Althought I am a big fan of SVG, it is not as mature as Flash in terms of browser support.

    And the scope of Flash is wider than SVG. SVG does not support video or media in general.

    Flash is evil technology for me, but it is overused by developers because people seems to like it very much. From the Linux perspective, if we need something like this, let it be the most widely supported.

  5. It bothers me that yet another non-standard standard is created. It bothers the most because since it is created by Microsoft, you can bet it will quickly become widespread, which is bad if you use a non-Microsoft platform, like me — most of the time, anyway.

    As for Linux itself, looks like O So Evil* Novell worked extra hard to port Silverlight to Mono. Novell seems to really be into Mono. A friend of mine inside Novell told me they’re looking into hiring more Mono developers all around the world.

    At least you can expect Linux to support Silverlight — or Moonlight as the port is called — at least for the time being. Hopefully the infamous Novell-Microsoft deal will result in Mono having an easier time catching up with .Net everytime Microsoft releases something new.

    * I don’t consider Novell evil personally. First because I don’t think the concepts of good and evil can really be applied to corporations and second because I think the deal is mostly business as usual and is likely to be beneficial to both parties.

  6. Also, I really don’t think Flash is included with Windows nowadays — don’t even think it even was. Flash is automatically installed by the browser when you need it for the first time.

  7. Roberto, really !?

    I think you may be correct.

    You know, Flash seems to be so ubiquitous that it looks like installed by default on Windows.

  8. Silverlight, a whole new Windows technology DDOS attack vector!

    Seriously, who can trust anything from Microsoft that implements both executable content and data access? With their track record, it will be just one more means to amass an army of zombie systems.

  9. Wc3 sucks!

    MS rules! Linux is good too!

    Avi, you dont like ANYTHING MS, do you?

    anyways, I came here looking for silverlight.avi so I can use it for my Dreamscene moving wallpaper in Vista Ultimate (pirated)
    funny huh?

  10. Avi,
    Silverlight is not going to go away, and neither is Flash. So you can rail all you want about this vs. that, open standards, and what not; basically you are wasting your breath.

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