back to article Microsoft’s Silverlight 3 delivers decent alternative to Adobe

Silverlight's future looks bright, which is just as well. The initial release of Microsoft media player for the browser lacked many of the features Flash had offered for years. Version 1.0 was really little more than a dressed up beta and, while the current release is an improvement, it still lacks many advanced capabilities …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft buys The Register

    May 8th, 2009, Redmond Washington.: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced today the purchase of UK based pseudo journalistic web organ 'The Register' for an undisclosed price. According to Mr. Ballmer "the journalistic integrity of that organ was worrying me - especially the pre-Mary-Jo-Foley radio register - since the reviews of all Microsoft related software was tinged with cancerous communism. By purchasing this organ we will have the ability to push the editorial slant back to a fair and balanced approach meaning that Microsoft products will receive the unquestioning positive praise that they deserve".

    After the announcement, MS shares on Nasdaq dropped 17.6% while share price of The Register climbed 245.2%.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nice Review

    Good to hear a balanced review.

    (Not that anyone here will ever see it though because most the commenter's here have no script which probably fits nicely with no life).

  3. Gareth Holmes
    Thumb Down

    not likely

    Flash for online and Air for offline use work on windows/mac and linux. It's reasonably consistent across the platforms.

    Silverlight doesn't natively support linux on the client side or on the server side. No sale I'm afraid.

  4. Doug Bostrom

    Boundless opportunities for wasted time

    New communications methods invented out of whole cloth will cause endless inconvenience, inefficiency, aggravation.

    Why can't these guys just accept the fact they were late out of the gate, let the rest of us get on with our lives?

  5. Tom Chiverton

    Decent ?

    That'll be "decent if you don't need to be cross platform and enjoy lining the pockets of criminals", right ?

  6. Tom


    'The biggest flaw in the Flash IDE is that it basically encourages bad code, you can bury code in a literally infinite number of places - external files, movie clips, timeline frames, frames within movie clips. It gets ugly very fast. Visual Studio 2008 integrates nicely with Subversion and other version-control systems so your code is organized in a logical way from the beginning, making it easier to update, maintain and share with other developers.'

    Oh look I've got silverlight - I'll ignore everything MS has told me over the last 30 years and suddenly become an modern computer programmer.

    The reason why we have billions of lines of badly organised code is BECAUSE MS told us that computing could be made easy and without any of the discipline that is so badly needed today.

    Just because VS2008 can connect with a non-ms version control system that actually works doesnt mean people are going to do anything useful with it.

  7. Henry Wertz Gold badge


    Sounds pretty decent. The big stumbling block will be making it cross-platform; last I checked (which was not long ago), Moonlight did not cut it, and was not even running Silverlight 2.0 apps reliably. This is Flash's big strength, Adobe ports it to just about anything; Windows, Mac (including PowerPC which Silverlight is ignoring..), Linux, PDAs and phones... there's apparently even one for Linux for ARM, so they can have full flash support when ARM netbooks ship.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nice to see a fair review

    Hate or Love MS, give credit where it's due.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. DrXym

    Some pros and cons of various solutions

    I've used Flex, Silverlight and JavaFx and they all have strengths and weaknesses. Personally I don't see much real-world reason to use Silverlight or JavaFx at the moment unless you absolutely must do something that Flex doesn't offer.


    Pros - Eclipse based IDE is great, especially for UI creation, XML UI description language, ubiquitous, cross-browser, cross-platform, AIR for local apps, browser component for AIR, many similarities to standard JS / CSS development

    Cons - No multi-threading leading to lots of stupid hacks, ActionScript is verbose, legacy heritage often shows through.


    Pros - Easy to pick up for .NET developers, C#/VB and other supported languages, small runtime, cross-browser, sandboxed

    Cons - Not cross-platform (no Moonlight does not count), cross-browser is no guarantee that sites will be, Silverlight is not .NET implementing a subset of system framework and is not binary compatible either, typical MS is pushing their own video / audio standards and delivery mechanisms to the detriment of industry ones.


    Pros - Runs over JRE, able to use any existing Java code, cross platform (eventually), has profiles for desktop and portable devices, finegrained security means it can do stuff neither Silverlight or Flex can do .

    Cons - JavaFx script language is weird and very unlike Java. UI is declarative JavaFx rather than XML. Tools like Netbeans are simply awful. Platform needs another major release to be considered feature complete.

  11. zvonr

    Silverlight = Bloatware Vista style

    Only need to take a look on how much disc space you can reclaim by uninstalling silverlight :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Wrong Comparison

    While Flash is the Adobe plugin/VM component, Flex is really their Silverlight competitor, so I'm not sure why you keep comparing Silverlight to Flash.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    I can't see this catching on

    Flash is pretty ubiquitous now, so who would design a site that requires you to go and download a relatively obscure plug-in before you can browse it? Most web users will just go elsewhere and that will be that.

    While I despise Flash and think ActionScript is the work of Satan (why do Adobe re-write AS entirely with ever new iteration?) I don't think people will be jumping on Silverlight given the extra hurdles that your average user will be expected to jump.

    I'm sure MS is planning on bundling it with Windows 7 but I can't see that being much more successful than Vista given that it's the same bloody OS with some very minor speed increases...

  14. JRallo

    Probably won't work on 2k...

    I bet it won't work on 2k, which adobe's does. Level playing field? not even close!

    Granted, 2k is old as dirt, however, using a newer browser (Latest FF) why should this matter?

    Make it work on 2k, and maybe my old not so power hungry media pc will work!

  15. Brian Whittle

    flash smash ?

    I am not a great fan of Flash content mainly because Adobe can't be bothered to optimise it on the OS X platform (it runs like a dog with 2 legs) .

    The problem is Flash has such a big presence on the web I think that it is unlikely that web developers are going to jump ship, Microsoft would have to give some serious inducements to get a bigger slice of this pie

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Evolutionary or what?

    @ post#1: hee hee!

    But you got to give it up for MS.

    When it sets its aim and gets its teeth into something there ain't no power sufficiently stronge to persuade it otherwise and in evolutionary terms 3 variants with open source collegiates = stunning stuff.

    My only fear is that some internal politicing (politi-king?) says: enuff! No more funds!

    And then the project drops into non-entity status pretty dashed swiftly?

  17. fink


    'The biggest flaw in the Flash IDE is that it basically encourages bad code, you can bury code in a literally infinite number of places - external files, movie clips, timeline frames, frames within movie clips. It gets ugly very fast.'

    ActionScript developers do not use the Flash IDE for coding. Designers and casual Flash users use the Flash IDE. It's not meant for development. Flex Builder is Adobe's provided IDE for ActionScript and MXML development, or as an alternative, the Eclipse FDT plugin. Ideally, you shouldn't write any code in the IDE, and you certainly shouldn't be putting any in movie clips (apart from the odd stop).

    'There is no frame-based animation, so it works more the way programmers are accustomed to working - with a collection of files compiled into a finished app.'

    Surely this is no different to AS code ? You write your classes and you compile them to an SWF ?

    'WPF also lets you define the start and end conditions and can automatically calculate the movement for you.'

    In Flash, this is called a tween, it can change any property of any object over time (yes, seconds or frames) and it can allows custom 'easing' functions to create non-linear movement. Tweens can be completely written and controlled by code, with no interaction with timelines required.

    'WPF "just works," and can save you tremendous amounts of time. Animating the opening of images in our slideshow app, for example, required just ten lines of code cut and pasted straight from the documentation.'

    If by 'Animating the opening of images' you mean they swoop in to view, or scale up etc, this is a single line of code in AS.

    I'm not saying that Silverlight doesn't have some obvious advantages, it does, and these are well described here, but I feel the authors knowledge of Flash development is somewhat lacking, and as an ActionScript developer myself, I feel a bit let down.

  18. balrob
    Gates Horns

    cross platform promise from MS is a trick

    If you read this:

    You will see (on page 9, "Microsoft’s Deceptive WISE Software Program") that MS promised cross platform development tools in the past to lure developers and once they had attracted developers they stopped the tools working cross platform.

    So, should we fall for this trick again ?

  19. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Silverlight = Bloatware Vista style

    "Only need to take a look on how much disc space you can reclaim by uninstalling silverlight" Oh dear, our Sunshiner forgot to take a look at how much dross just the Java RTE leaves on your system, let alone the space it takes up! Why does each release of just the Java RTE seem to require a compound growth of several hundred megabytes, I'm seriously expecting a release soon to hit the gigabyte mark. And even then it will still perform with Java's notourious lack of speed. Being equally slow and buggy across many platforms is nothng to be proud of.

    From a commercial viewpoint, seeing as most companies still use Windows desktops and laptops, I expect there will be plenty of Silverlight 3 apps turning up on company intranets. The non-commercial world is another question - not being cross-platform could seriously dent M$'s hopes of beating Flash out on the Web.

  20. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    If it's only for MS, it will never take off

    The world has finally realised that not everything is a MS/IE world

  21. Kevin Bailey


    Only works on IIS.

    Needs (very expensive) Visual Studio.

    Sounds as bad as .NET.

    .NET was not truly cross-platform - page repositioning only worked in IE.

    The article tries to be positive - but lists plenty of bad points - wass going on?!?

  22. Pete


    Will it run on linux? will it run in opera? firefox?

    I see no clue in this article, if it only runs in IE on Windows then that's a reasonable proportion of people it won't work for, enough so that as a web developer I wont touch it.

    But I know there will be a load of web sites available soon that complain if you are not using this system, TBH it sounds great, but without decent support for cross browser and cross platform compatibility it will only serve to fuck things up.

  23. Tam Lin

    "sophistication and maturity you'll find in the .NET framework"

    To be sure, within 500MB (twice that including security updates) there's bound to be some "sophistication and maturity". Let's take a look.

    Spam spam spam spam bloat spam spam spam spam spam spam ballmer spam spam spam spam spam sophistication spam spam spam spam spam spam spam bloat spam spam maturity spam spam spam spam maturity spam spam spam spam buffer overflow spam spam Lucy van Pelt's football spam spam undocumented features spam spam spam spam bloat spam bloat baked beans and spam.

    As expected, it's not got much.

  24. Morten Bjoernsvik


    Novell develops Silverlight for linux:

    As it uses mono it is _extremely_ slow compared to running on windows.

  25. Nick Askew
    Gates Halo

    @JRallo Probably won't work on 2k...

    "I bet it won't work on 2k, which adobe's does. Level playing field? not even close!"

    I thought you might be right but actually it does work under W2K with both Firefox and IE 6. I really do hope that support widens for other OS's and other browsers otherwise it would seem pointless moving anything from Flash to Silverlight. However while Silverlight might be a late comer to the field it does seem to be quite well thought out and as long as it does not become yet another MS fad that is forgotten it really has potential.

  26. DrXym

    @Brian Whittle

    Microsoft is tossing money around left and right to get Silverlight out there. Netflix, the winter olympics coverage on NBC, ITV and others. I expect the conversations went like this:

    Site: "We're implementing a big project in Flex since it does everything we need and runs on pretty much every browser"

    MS: "And you're going to pay for the servers and infrastructures?"

    Site: "Well yes obviously but we'll use Linux and other free solutions where possible. There is plenty of choice in back end solutions even if we have to pay."

    MS: "Why don't we give you all your server licences, and a crack team of consultants for free if you use Silverlight instead and stream through our server operating system and use our plugin? Did we mention this amounts to millions of dollars?"

    Site: "Well okay we'll use Silverlight"

    Personally I think it's an okay to produce a competing runtime but this sort of money hatting is pretty disgusting. I bet Sun wishes it could do the same if it had any money and while JavaFx has plenty of rough edges its probably more deserving of attention than Silverlight.

  27. Matware

    How long has flash been 'Cross Platform' exactly

    What, 6 months on Linux makes Flash the king of cross platform, the previous 12 years of them doing nothing but a half assed Win/Mac mac version with the poor dev guys trying to get the same look and feel on both platforms.

    So Silverlight has been around for a little less than 3 years (tec demo of 1.0) it support Win/Mac and is feature comparable with the Flash, not a bad effort I say. Oh and on top of they, they have assisted in the creation an open source offering that looks like it will meet the 3.0 specs within months of the 3.0 release date, and you are welcome to port that the any freaking platform you like.

    On top of all of that, you have a kick ass IDE in Visual Studio 2008 (with a free tool coming down the line), and your choice of development languages (Java/Script, C#, VB, Python, Ruby, and probably freaking ADA if it turns your crank), access to actual 'form' controls, free graphs, great documentation. Jeez how hard is it for you guys to say, well done, interesting platform, did Microsoft murder a family member or something?

  28. Frumious Bandersnatch

    fair review? hardly

    Somehow you've managed to take all the bad things about this format and phrase them in a positive light, while simultaneously taking Flash to task for what are often eminently sensible design decisions. Let me give some examples:

    > There is no frame-based animation

    Which you talk up as a positive because it's what programmers are used to. So I'm guessing that this will be of no use to graphic designers who are accustomed to working with timelines, actions that start at a particular time in same and suchlike. You spent the whole of the preceding paragraph berating the Flash way of doing things because it ...

    > basically encourages bad code, you can bury code in a literally infinite number of

    > places - external files, movie clips, timeline frames, frames within movie clips.

    > It gets ugly very fast.

    There are reasons why you might want to put code in different places. The main reason is that there is a timeline-based model and you will want to put whatever code you have as close to where it will be used as possible. As for the other places mentioned, I wonder if you've never heard of a thing called modularity? Perhaps if I explained that a movie clip can be modularly reused to control a sprite animation, for example? Would that help to demystify the code placement for you?

    > Silverlight apps can be built with anything from C to Ruby.

    So in other words, whereas Flash offers a platform-independent environment (wherever there's a suitable rendering engine ported), Silverlight will allow you to embed raw fscking machine code output from a C compiler? WFT? I take it that this means that Silverlight users will have to have have a hefty bunch of .NET support installed before this will work, and that they'll have to rely on its sandboxing mechanisms to ensure that any rogue code won't simply take over their systems. Ludicrous!

    As for that last paragraph, please decide if you're a fanboi or an apologist. Pick one and stick with it.

  29. frymaster

    @Frumious Bandersnatch

    it compiles to CIL, not raw assembler (else it won't be patform independant, unless you are meaning that CIL is the assembler language of the CLR) but I think only a subsection of the full .net APIs are available (the linux download is 9 meg, which I wouldn't classify as "hefty")

    as regards sandboxing though: how is that any different from the sandboxing people have to rely on to make sure flash code, or browser javascript, or pdf javascript doesn't take over their systems?

    having said that, moonlight 2 is nowhere near done, and its sandboxing code is at best not yet tested ( ) which means that you can either have platform independance (moon/silverlight 1 and javascript) or language independance (silverlight 2) but not both

  30. James Pickett


    "on a nearly level playing field with Adobe's Flash framework"

    Wow, that means it's nearly as good - I must have it!

  31. Mark Rendle

    A few points

    Can't remember the specific posters, but:

    Why does Flex score a "pro" for an XML UI description language but Silverlight doesn't?

    The Silverlight download is roughly the same size as the Flash player.

    The Silverlight 3 tools work with Visual Studio 2008 Web Developer Express Edition, which is free.

    Silverlight is cross-platform, unless Mac's aren't a platform.

    Moonlight 2.0 already includes some of the Silverlight 3.0 features, and it probably won't take them long to get full 3.0 support.

    IIS only why, exactly? For the smooth video streaming, which is a feature that Flash doesn't have regardless of where it's hosted? Hardly a win for Flash, then. Plus, I believe MS are providing free Live hosting for video for Silverlight.

    I'm using Silverlight 3.0, and for professional development, it's superb. The amount of the .NET framework that is supported is mightily impressive considering the size of the runtime, and it includes key features that a genuinely useful, such as WCF, LINQ and a fair bit of the WPF data-binding model. The (open-source) supporting frameworks that are available from Codeplex, including Prism, the Silverlight toolkit, the unit-testing libraries and others, are brilliant. Prism in particular includes a very useful tool for sharing source code between Silverlight and full WPF projects, allowing for meaningful code reuse. And the third-party control suites from the likes of Infragistics are extensive and highly-polished.

    But more than any of that, and a point that is consistently underplayed by knee-jerk MS detractors, is the ability to write your back-end code in so many first-class languages: C#, Ruby, Python, F#, C/C++, and more becoming available all the time. And the architectural model of the application is the same as for .NET Windows applications. That's a huge advantage for existing, experienced developers looking to move into web-based systems.

  32. Yeah Right
    Thumb Up


    Finally!! I can get a flash alternative that is "almost as good", runs on only one platform, may require the user to download software to view and was written by the same convicted monopolist that's been fucking me over for two decades? Awesome! Where do I sign up?

    Seriously, what's with this article? I almost expect that the next time I try to view el reg I'll see "Sorry, Internet Explorer 3.0 or higher is necessary to view this site".

    At least this makes for a fun game of Spot The Shills.

  33. DrXym

    @Mark Rendle

    I was the one who did the pro/con thing, and I intended to put XAML under silverlight but forgot. I am also aware that Dev Studio Express has a Silverlight extension. I haven't tried Silverlight 3, but Silverlight 2's extension is crippled since you cannot use visual design tools to knock together UIs. Instead you must write the XML manually or using drag and drop snippets. In a perverse way I like this since it forces you to lean the XAML rather than point and click. I'd add that a semi-workaround is to prototype a UI by creating a .NET 3.5 WPF app but the XAML is so different (missing controls, attributes and values) that it often requires major surgery to make it work.

    As for cross-platform, yes the plugin has Mac support but not Linux and from the sounds of it, never will. Instead they hope and expect Moonlight to trail along a few versions behind failing as badly at supporting Silverlight as Mono does with .NET. Moonlight also fails when it comes to video / audio since it depends on Microsoft for a codec pack and even then won't implement DRM. Moonlight needs to dump the codec pack and use ffmpeg or similar.

  34. Levente Szileszky
    Thumb Down

    Still the same good-ol' UTTERLY CLUELESS Microsoft approach...

    "Smooth Streaming requires the Internet Information Services 7.0 environment in Windows Server 2008. That means you're never going to be smooth streaming videos from your Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl, Python or PHP stack and will be simply relying on Silverlight 3.0 just to handle the player.

    In typical Microsoft fashion, the Smooth Streaming tools are a package affair and you'll need to swallow the package hook, line and sinker before you see any benefits."

    Well, THERE, YOU JUST LOST IT, you fat fart Ballmer. This is going to be ANOTHER SORRY@SS LOSER project, in a typical MS-fashion.

  35. Duncan


    >>The biggest flaw in the Flash IDE is that it basically encourages bad code, you can bury code in a literally infinite number of places - external files, movie clips, timeline frames, frames within movie clips. It gets ugly very fast. Visual Studio 2008 integrates nicely with Subversion and other version-control systems so your code is organized in a logical way from the beginning, making it easier to update, maintain and share with other developers.

    Hahahahahahahahahaha. Thats hilarious. Are you being serious ??

  36. Levente Szileszky

    @ By Mark Rendle RE: A few points

    "I'm using Silverlight 3.0, and for professional development, it's superb."

    Yeah, that must be the explanation for this joke/idiocy:

    "IIS only why, exactly? For the smooth video streaming, which is a feature that Flash doesn't have regardless of where it's hosted? Hardly a win for Flash, then. Plus, I believe MS are providing free Live hosting for video for Silverlight."

    I noticed that being a "professional developer" and using MS-tools for "professional development" usually means the person is painfully far from being up-to-date anything outside of his buggy MS-bubble (i.e. clueless as hell) - in this case it's you versus Dynamic Streaming in this never-heard (by you, I mean) thing called Flash Media Streaming Server...

    Here's some educational material for you, full of "new" (availabel since last Summer) information:

    I HATE Flash but as this typical MS-loving comment shows this thing - Silverlight, that is, whatever it's called - truly shaping up as another ASP-sized clusterf*&^% for MS...

    ...anything that requires that utter PoS junk-quality MS IIS needs no further introduction for anyone who ever administered different websites (IIS vs LAMP etc.)

    PS: apart from pet projects, one-man-show websites and, of course, few prestige-projects (and even bigger scandals with broken SL deliveries, LOL) has anyone actually seen one single well-working SL?

  37. Levente Szileszky

    MIssed this one first...

    ""sophistication and maturity you'll find in the .NET framework" "

    How can I say...?

    BWhahahahahuhauhauahauauauauaROFLMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLOLOLOL - truly pathetic idiocy, sorry.

    Have you EVER managed more than one machine, outside of your "office", seriously?

  38. Levente Szileszky

    @Henry Wertz

    "This is Flash's big strength, Adobe ports it to just about anything; Windows, Mac (including PowerPC which Silverlight is ignoring..), Linux, PDAs and phones... there's apparently even one for Linux for ARM, so they can have full flash support when ARM netbooks ship."

    Excuse me? WTF are your talking about?

    Get real: Flash does not exist for ANYTYHING outside of a PC. FOr PDA/Smartphone the last rouge Flash player out there - availabel on non-Adobe mirrors - is version 7 and it's only for Wnidows Mobile.

    Flash is a TRUE RESOURCE HOG and no support for iPhone OS, WinMobile or anything else.

    A netbo0ok might have enough juice, that should be fine but forget phones until FLash is made by Adobe, the most clueless, buggiest big software maker.

  39. Alex

    No go...

    Silverlight or Flash doesn't run on my ZX81 - I mean - come on !!!!

  40. Barney Carroll

    Buy Windows, buy .NET back-end - what problem?

    So actually, if I'm already familiar with Visual Studio and C#, and working in a .NET back-end, and my user-base is on Windows XP/Vista using IE, this is probably a better tool to be developing with.

    Problem, as ever, is politics.

    You do make reference to the significant issue of the bizarre download paradigm but apart from this the consequences of developing in Silverlight outside of development aren't addressed. It is platform- and browser-specific, disabling swathes of users. Regardless of whether or not you give a shit about the user, you yourself have to be operating a .NET environment to fully benefit from the competitive features.

    On all these fronts, pure convenient practicality puts Flash unmeasurable miles ahead because anybody can develop for it, and anybody can use it - without spending a penny on software.

  41. Nicholas Bedworth

    Silverlight 3.0 big picture

    Good to read a thoughtful, balanced, and practical review of the two technologies. Moronic fanboys aside, the community of user experience developers will benefit from evaluating the rapid evolution the SL platform is undergoing. The Net tends to keep moving on, doesn't it?

    Some specific comments:

    1. There's no need to involve .Net; Silverlight runs against a tiny CoreCLR. I see .Net as more of a WPF-related technology.

    2. Works in most known browsers (FF, IE, SF, etc.) but not on pre-Intel Macs, as pointed out. Still, that's, what, 95% of running PCs and Mac can run SL today.

    3. Opt-in install base of consumers is approaching 200 million, which is significant, and happening rather rapidly.

    4. Rapidly improving designer tools. The performance and feature curve is pointing steeply upward.

    5. Blockbuster has also moved to Silverlight

    6. New York Times has increasing involvement with Silverlight; MS just released a set Silverlight controls to work with their API. NY Times is in the top 10 of world Web sites, I believe.

    7. In an end-to-end content distribution business model, SL does offer TCO advantages.

    8. Numerical calculation performance inside SL is excellent

    9. Casting SL as a media player technology is reasonable, in terms of kicking off the discussion, as this is the main use of Flash, but my perspective is that the scope of SL is really much broader, and perhaps only starting to be understood by the community.

    10. As one considers using SL for desktop style applications, the differences in scope with Flash/AIR begin to reveal themselves.

  42. Dave Coventry
    Thumb Down

    Can't see the point

    I don't care how good this Microsoft product is, the objective is clearly to force Linux users away from their OS and back into the MS fold.

    Currently the MS shills say "You can't run <insert random MS software here> on Linux".

    In six months they'll say 'You can't browse the web with Linux because Linux doesn't have a Silverlight client'.

    This is a blatant and transparently shady and underhand business ploy and it stinks.

    The only thing that can possibly prevent it from working is if the web community at large refuse to implement it.

    And that's not likely to happen when the media put out arse-licking articles like this which completely fail to address it.

  43. John Smith Gold badge

    We'll promise to support *any* platform you like

    As long as your big enough and migrate your team to us now*

    This decision may be subject to review at a later date.

  44. Pete


    You say

    "How long has flash been 'Cross Platform' exactly"

    and claim 6 months?

    I've been using Linux exclusively on my main PC for 4 years now, and used it a lot for at least 3 years before that, flash animations on web sites are not my favourite thing, but there has been a flash player available on Linux for as long as that (7 years if maths is not your strong point).

    Where do you get your "6 months" figure from?

  45. David


    Seems like the average web developer doesn't care about compatibility; if it runs on their desktop it's ready to ship.

  46. Antony Riley

    "Silverlight is crossplatform".

    @Mark Rendle:

    Even the most cursory look at Moonlight would have lead you to the conclusion that it is neither usable in the real world, nor likely to be in the near future.


    Flash has had reasonable Linux support for more than 6 months, but point taken. In three years Microsoft has managed to create a comparable alternative, whilst kneecapping the web experience on Linux in the process. Before Silverlight, the vast majority of sites worked except for Activex and some sites which use embeded windows media player wrapped with a pile of Javascript.

    And the best bit, when Moonlight fails to deliver, we can't blame Microsoft, we have to blame a bunch of open source programmers.

    I have no love for Flash, but I dislike Silverlight and Microsoft more.

  47. Marcel van Beurden

    We don't need Flash nor Silverlight

    Why would be want one big corporation hijack our web experience?

    What is the added value of these tools on the average website?

    Why don't we just use the standards available to accomplish the same thing:

    - video: use standard MPEG video in Ogg container, or in the near future use HTML 5's <video> tag

    - audio: see video

    - fancy interactive graphics: use Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

    - blinking banners: do we really need blinking banners?

  48. tiggertaebo
    Black Helicopters

    Mummy, the bad men are doing it again!

    @Dave Coventry:

    So Microsoft produce a new feature (for want of a better word) for their OS to attract new/retain existing customers, HOW DARE THEY?!? You'd almost think they were in the business of SELLING SOFTWARE!! Don't even get me started on those restaurants that add new dishes to the menu to try and entice me to eat there. B*****ds!

    Personally I think MS are flogging a dead horse on this one - Flash is just *too* prevalent to dislodge right now. Still they've got guts for trying and we've seen the "unassailable" fall before (Alta Vista anyone?). Heck even if all Silverlight succeeds in doing is forcing Adobe to get off their lazy asses and make Flash better then as a user of teh internets it's made my life better.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Whoa there, zealots!

    Wow, hell of a lot of heavy anti-microsoft sentiment here. I thought we'd grown out of that a little, but maybe I just grew out of being a proper geek.

    Anyone who defends flash has never developed with it. Every day I spent writing Actionscript strengthened my desire to go round to the houses of every developer responsible for creating that horrendous, half-assed abomination of a platform and kick them in the nuts. Hard. It's probably better now - it has been a couple of years ( I'm glad to say ) but I bet it's not *that* great.

    I can't help but notice that the penguinites all seem to be whining and bitching about linux compatibility and how moonlight isn't up to scratch and probably never will be and everything sucks and down with m$ forever. Which is very nice but forgive me if I observe that the whole point of Open Source is that you can fix it for yourselves, so rather than moaning about how this is the Worst. Article. Ever. because it looks at the technology rather than your political agenda, why not run along and fix it for yourselves?

  50. Simon B

    Silverlight = re inventing the wheel?

    Surely Silverlight is re inventing the wheel? Why is this news?

  51. Dave
    IT Angle


    "Silverlight's future looks bright"

    For who?

    This is pretty much a no-win situation - greater penetration than FLASH and we get another MS monopoly, less penetration and MS lose face.

    Anyway, what _sensible_ customer is actually using this right now?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Doesn't matter how good it is

    If it becomes successful Microsoft will use it as another way to fuck up our industry by tying it to Windows and further abusing their monopoly. The current quality of the product is irrelevant. I won't be using it on principle and I'd advise everyone else to follow the same path.

    Once Microsoft's monopoly is gone then perhaps we can start evaluating their products on the basis of the quality of the product.

  53. Cryo

    Competition is good

    I feel that Silverlight is good, in that it provides proper competition to Adobe's Flash. Over the last decade, Flash has become ubiquitous to the point where you can't really go through a web browsing session without running into it. With no decent Flash alternatives, Adobe holds more or less a monopoly over rich web content. They have little incentive to dramatically improve their plugin, since no one else has offered anything comparable.

    Silverlight has the potential to pose an actual threat to them, so if Adobe wants to remain the dominant provider of rich web content, they'll need to work hard to stay ahead of the competition. This will likely lead to more innovative features and improved performance, which will only benefit the end user.

    To be honest though, I haven't installed Silverlight yet, as I haven't encountered any sites where I really needed it. Additially, they don't offer official Opera compatibility yet, which happens to be my primary browser. : )

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sure this has been said before

    "Needs (very expensive) Visual Studio."

    What you mean something like visual web developer express which is available for free? Wow £0 and 0 pence, so much cost involved!

    (remember most of the visual studio stuff has express editions which don't cost a penny, of course as your post was quite obviously anti ms from the start shouldn't let a fact get in your way!)

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the linux people complain...

    .. about ms since its closed source. But isn't flash closed as well? why are they defending that!

  56. breakfast Silver badge

    That's a good point

    Is there a free Flash development platform equivalent to Visual Web Developer?

  57. zvonr

    @Matt Bryant

    Well the 4GB I freed by uninstalling Silverlight is significantly more than all the JRE's combined on my system ....

    Sort installed apps by size, observed Silverlight on top, uninstalled ....

    4 GB is significantly more than the 90Mb JRE... or even the 135Mb Acrobat Reader....

  58. Dave Coventry


    You wilfully miss my point.

    This is not about Microsoft producing a better product.

    This is about Microsoft using shady business tactics to take the web away from a significant portion of Users. But, to be honest, shady business practices are what defines Microsoft, so I guess we should expect nothing less.

    What I find irritating is this craven sycophantic article which carefully skirts around this issue in an effort to more effectively kiss the Microsoft backside.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You mean to tell me that you sat there and let silverlight down load 4 gigs worth of stuff

    ?? Ether you have super fast conection or you are full of shit

  60. Mark Rendle

    @zvonr: 4GB?

    I just checked, and Silverlight (2.0.40115.0) is 21.7MB.

    Frankly, if it was 4GB, I'd want to know why Microsoft weren't marketing the compression algorithm that got that down to a 10MB installer.

  61. Mark Rendle

    @Dave Coventry

    If you really believe that there's any business out there that isn't using as many shady business practices as they can get away with, then you're a fool.

  62. Mark Rendle


    My mistake. I haven't really been keeping up with Adobe for the last few years, much like you appear to have been ignoring the improvements Microsoft have made to IIS.

    I may be mistaken, but the System Requirements for FMS 3.5 specify Red Hat Linux (and Windows, obviously: everything runs on Windows). Does FMS not run on other distros?

    Anyway, it's apples and oranges. FMS is a standalone product, whereas Smooth Streaming is part of the IIS Integrated Media Platform extension, so obviously it's restricted to IIS. Maybe when there's an Apache extension with similar capabilities, the Silverlight team will add support for that.

  63. Dave Coventry

    @ Mark


    How many times do I have to explain it?

    It is not a question of using shady business tactics, although it's a moot point whether a company like Microsoft is behaving entirely legally, given the strength of it's monopoly.

    What I find irritating is the amount of people who support them in this. A significant section of web users risk having their access curtailed for no other reason than one bloated, greedy and dysfunctional Multinational is trying to force up it's profits, and all you can do is applaud?

  64. Mark Rendle


    What I find irritating is the number of people who berate Microsoft for everything they ever do on the basis that they're a successful company, regardless of the positive progress they're making and the quality of the actual products. The fact of the matter is, developing on the Microsoft stack with Microsoft tools these days is, overall, a more coherent and pleasant experience than with any of the competition. Silverlight extends the reach of that stack and toolset into the RIA arena, and better tools help developers produce better end-products.

    I assume the significant section of web users to which you refer are the Linux crowd, to which I'd say you get what you pay for.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    too little, too late, waste of time. (and it's too heavy for your mobile phone, silly....)

    nuff said.

  66. Levente Szileszky
    Black Helicopters

    RE: berating MS and other silly accusations...

    "What I find irritating is the number of people who berate Microsoft for everything they ever do on the basis that they're a successful company, regardless of the positive progress they're making and the quality of the actual products."

    Yeah because MS became a successful company through their awesome products, right??NOT.

    They used the most disgusting, mob tactics for DECADES, corruption and monopoly were the two main ingredients and now their MAMMOTH operations are all end up as a royal F***UP - witness every software, hardware or services product rollout, every beta release, their website etc etc etc.

    Majority of their product and services are still a MESS, a PITA to use, even just to activate their subscription-based services is a COMPLETE JOKE (any MSDN or licensing administrator will concur.)

    Microsoft lived long enough in its bubble ot become this GIANT MESS it is now and with this useless-clueless, chair-throwing arrogant spoiled fat kid, this completely ignorant (he can barely use Office) and unscrupulous, immoral, snuffling whale, this lying beancounting pr!ck at the helm (Ballmer, that is) they can only go DOWN, you don't have to be an augur to foresee this.

    I HATE Adobe as a company more than MS - Adobe is a TRUE MONOPOLY - but MS is such a cluster**** at every level... my utter distaste is based on experience.

    I truly believe that no sane person will rely on this PoS called IIS, period. Had you ever managed enterprise websites you'd know this - IIS makes ZERO SENSE unless someone (MS) hands you over the entire architecture, services and support for FREE, for "marketing (->the word comes from "MARKET-corruptING) puposes.

  67. John Smith Gold badge

    @Levente Szileszky

    Nice to hear the voice of reason. I was afraid this thread was becoming a tad polemical.

  68. Barney Carroll

    @Mark Rendle

    "If you really believe that there's any business out there that isn't using as many shady business practices as they can get away with, then you're a fool."

    Miserable life you must have mate. Not suggesting I'm a saint or a genius, but I've worked for several companies that find it enjoyable and profitable to spend time developing innovative products. Just because Microsoft can't conceive of the idea doesn't mean it's infeasible - in fact Microsoft needs other companies to keep doing this if it ever wants to progress itself: when submitting a project proposal at Microsoft you have to include a case study of how the competition have already done it. Without that, your project is deemed pointless.

  69. John Smith Gold badge

    @Barney Carroll

    "when submitting a project proposal at Microsoft you have to include a case study of how the competition have already done it. Without that, your project is deemed pointless."

    This is a fascinating insight into Redmond thinking. Consider what it is saying.

    They will *never* be first to market.

    It's not worth doing *unless* someone else has done it already.

    Not exactly Bell Labs. The notion of Microsoft *ever* coming up with a truly original, possibly unique (and actually wanted) product idea is absurd. MS seems to hire original researchers on a fairly regular basis. I wonder when they find out their most original thinking is actually *certain* to go nowhere, or do they get told up front that it'll go in an archive in case someone else decides to do it and they want to respond quickly. Given that background I suspect licensing some IP your team has developed inside MS and spinning off as a separate company might be quite challenging. MS is a jealous god. About as likely as King Herod setting up a planned parenthood clinic in fact.

  70. Inachu

    So does this give me an option to print?

    Will I be able to print a Microsoft document as a silverlight app?

    If so and if it is FREE then this will already be better than paying $600 to print as PDF.

    Or is i t $300? Its just a document exachange!... Adobe wants to strip your wallet bare.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Smooth Streaming

    Sounds an awful lot like Dynamic Streaming that was introduced in Flash Media Server 3.5.

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