back to article Microsoft Silverlight - now with hidden Windows bias

Silverlight 4.0 was the big hit at Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference (PDC) this week. "I can see that Silverlight is the future of Windows client development" one attendee told me. The basis for this enthusiasm is an array of new features that resolve many of the frustrations discovered by developers working with …


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  1. OffBeatMammal

    Is this such a bad thing?

    If developers are targetting a line of business app inside their enterprise they probably know what the mix of desktops are... and can decide to use OLE automation of they want (after all, there are some cases where they may need that and as AIR doesn't offer it then it's the only way to give them the option short of writing a native app)

    In the interwebs developers can choose to expose scenarios requiring OLE automation if a user is running Windows in just the same way they offer different browsing experiences today.

    The browser differences... while it would have been really cool to see Silverlight include the IE9 rendering engine on Mac and PC or maybe host Webkit I think using the local experience is great - it minimises the runtime download, it offers a familiar experience and really how much difference is there between Safari and IE8 rendering? I agree that the missing ability to host HTML in Silverlight inside a browser is a loss... but I suspect they are worried about recursive nesting sucking the entire Internet into a single Silverlight object on a web page and then where would we be!

    Linux, for all it's squeaky wheel protestors, is still a server OS. how many typical users are running it today as their primary client (remember ... if you're reading the Reg you're not the majority of the audience) - and anyway... Penguin fanciers made an informed decision so they can't really claim shock and surprise if an app doesn't run there... heck, Photoshop doesn't either but where's the Adobe vitriol! Anyway... if they're as smart as they claim to by... why not help Miguel finish Moonlight then they can have their Silverlight cake with Open Sauce.

    Nice to see El Reg covering PDC but not sure I get the negative spin on everything... this story, the one about Be A Martian ( etc make me suspect some News of the World bias is creeping in....

  2. Peter H. Coffin

    No phone dialer for desktops?

    Why not? I've got fax service on it already, and a reasonably functional modem that I can link to my headset via OTHER software... There, we're headed back to platform parity again...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    I despise COM. It's slow, baroque, proprietary, and just barely thread safe. It is an advantage to macs that they cannot run it.

  4. Dave 129

    And this is news because...?

    People didn't think that MS would go the proprietary route? Even after all their history? And it comes as a surprise when they do?

    Reminds me of that proverb about the scorpion, that asks to be carried across a river. It then stings the swimmer, retorting just before the death of said swimmer: "sorry, it's my nature".

  5. Bug

    Now? Hidden?

    *Now* with *hidden* Windows bias?

    Oh come on. Sliverlight is a Microsoft product. Windows bias is implicit and since when have they ever worried about hiding it?

  6. Qux

    Silverlight != cross platform

    How can Microsoft have any interest in true cross-platform functionality? While it was critical to tout Silverlight as cross-platform in order to attract developer interest, it's hard to imagine that the actual implementation won't be massively preferential to Windows. It seems to me that it's in Microsoft's interest -- and undoubtedly part of their strategy -- to make Silverlight work as poorly as possible on OSX and Linux.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I'll bet I'm not the first

    > Since cross-platform Mac and Windows is a key Silverlight feature, it is curious that Microsoft has now decided to make it platform-specific in such an important respect.

    No, it was utterly predictable. EEE is ingrained they can't even stop their themselves with their own cross-platform products. Every MS product from Kerberos, to Word/Office, to IE is built to be slightly incompatible, to ensure it doesn't quite work properly or as expected without some other MS product being used either underneath or as a backend. Once you start using their software it is extremely difficult to disentangle yourself.

    This is the point that Adobe chuckle to themselves and the Moonlight people's gullibility comes home to them.

  8. J 3
    Gates Horns


    Why doesn't that surprise me?

  9. Kevin Bailey

    Pur-leese MS - you can't doublespeak us!

    When they come out with stuff like...

    "[Mac and Windows Silverlight] are on a par in every other respect. It's important to give developers choice. We also want to have the option to light up the platform,"

    ...they lose all credibility. The problem for MS in the developer area is that they're trying to con (mostly) intelligent people.

    And I may as well add mine here - 'See, I knew I was right to avoid Mono'.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    > COM automation is a Windows-only feature...

    Embrace: check. Extend: in progress. Extinguish? coming up shortly. Is anybody really surprised?

  11. Kwac


    Complete with Digital Restraints Management - now THAT' S what I call a real seller.

  12. Goat Jam
    Gates Horns

    I'm Shocked

    SHOCKED I say!!!


  13. Tom B

    Drilling Holes To Let Out The Seawater

    Microsoft has worked feverishly to turn WIndows 7 into a secure, world-class operating system worthy of resepect. But how can you expect to plug all the leaks in a boat, when you have the Silverlight people drilling more holes in the bottom? This I'm-ok-you're-ok-let's-share-everything-with-everybody philosophy is the reason Windows suffers so many security problems. It needs to be far more paranoid than it is. COM and direct file system access from the browser? Are these guys *serious*? I run a browser in its own Virtual Machine that always starts with a clean snapshot, completely sandboxed and cut-off from anything I consider valuable. The Internet is a dangerous place, and needs to be treated with the appropriate caution and -- yes, I'll repeat myself -- paranoia. Doing otherwise is like a half-naked woman standing on a street corner in the wrong part of town at 3am waving wads of cash in the air. It's not a question of "if", it's a question of "when". Silverlight is not a solution, it's the beginning of a new round of problems.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    And so it begins...

    "Brian Goldfarb, director of product marketing, defended this decision. "[Mac and Windows Silverlight] are on a par in every other respect. It's important to give developers choice. We also want to have the option to light up the platform," he said."

    Shock horror, MS make their proprietary bollocks better for the Windows client only, and so the colossal FAIL that everyone predicted from the very start begins: Windows as MS's only first class citizen and everyone else travelling third class on the roof.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Lets make a cross platform runtime...

    that only works on one platform. I'm cross!

  16. Tom Chiverton 1

    Not a surprise

    So MS have made a cross platform standard, where some platforms are more equal than others ? And this is a surprise ?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Oops they did it again

    Being non cross platform will be the last nail in the coffin that is silverlight.

  18. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Using Moonlight is a complete waste of time

    when sites that use Silverlight refuse to recognise Moonlight and direct you to a MS page that tells you to dowload silverlight for Windows.


    In Microsoft Speak, Cross Platform means the different versions of Windows. From 7 home Basic to Server 2008 Datacentre edition, apart from Mobile.


    Why are we surprised at this? No me.

  19. Keith Oldham

    Silverlight tipped the balance

    I for one am now reformatting all my GNU/Linux machines and installing W7 - silverlight is an absolute necessity for me - I can't use the web/think/walk without it - OMG!

    Excuse me - what is it ?

  20. Cantankerous Old Buzzard

    Phase 2 -> Phase 3 transition

    Embrace, extend, extinguish.

    Rocket science this is not -- for anyone with a hint of Mickey$lop's history.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    What shocks me..

    is that all of you smart guys know what Microsoft strategy is (to make sure everybody is bound to the Microsoft stack) yet nobody of you people here stands up for alternatives when push comes to shove.

    Each time you get an assignment to program something that will have an impact on social services like water supply, energy, transportation or defense, your first response should be to use open source software. Not that you should have anything against Microsoft specifically, they are not the disease, but merely a very visible symptom of a broken market.

    Sounds very Stallmanian, I agree, but if you want to make sure your client gets a secure, stable and maintainable product, than the choice is obvious. Change starts when people actually behave differently.

    The Nuremberg defense: "but I have a deadline" does not fly. Your marketing department should be quite capable in proving why MS technology is a bad choice for your client.

    But I guess it's the x*10^6 of dollars we receive each year from Microsoft that persuades us not to do our jobs and disobey our engineers vow to protect the public...

    (For the people that don't remember: "Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public." )

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    The gameplan

    A competitor delivers a new cross-platform product that makes other platforms attractive.

    MS promises something better.

    MS delivers something which is not perfect but has promise on other platforms

    Developers start to try it out.

    Later versions are better, but the best stuff is on Windows.

    Developers who have been locked into it for their next projects urge maangement to shift to Windows.

    MS cuts budget on other platforms supprt, stranding projects on Windows.

    Job done.

    MS migration is one way, to Windows and Office. A developer who does not understand this issue is a coder, not a developer.

  23. Christoph

    So what's new?

    "There is also a new trusted mode, which requires user approval"

    I.e. just the same as the old ActiveX. Click here to let this program have total access to your computer, or the application you want to run won't work.

    And exactly the same problems. No way to know if it's malware. No way to know if it's got security holes because the author wasn't thinking about security when he wrote it but only about functionality. No way to know if the company that wrote it assumed that it was perfectly legitimate for them to have it send them all your data without telling you.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Embrace, extend, extinguish?

    But what exactly is Microsoft going to extinguish? Silverlight for Mac? Did anyone ever use that (besides Microsoft)?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    What the hell

    See title, cross platform has been redefined to mean Windows and Mac, moreover some features missing in Mac, so cross platform actually means Windows-only now?

  26. Tim Bates


    People don't often come across websites on the internet requiring Photoshop to be installed.

    That's probably a huge reason why people are far less noisy about Adobe. When Flash was a pain in the arse, people were noisy. Now it works, so most websites work fine for Linux users.

  27. The BigYin

    @AC 10:39 GMT

    Use OSS? I'd love to, but I can't.

    Boss: So it all runs in the browser?

    Me: Yup.

    Boss: Any browser?

    Me: Within reason, any modern one would do. FF, Safari, Opera...

    Boss: Will it run in IE?

    Me: IE7 & 8? Yes.

    Boss: What about IE6?

    Me: Err...

    Boss: Oh, and do they need to install anything?

    Me: Well, they need to install the plug-ins so the software works.

    Boss: Nope, can't have that. It must work OOTB based on their standard deployment, which is IE6 by the way, and we can't demand they install anything else.

    Me: Err...crap.

    This is what we have to live with. It *MUST* run in IE6 and if it needs to use anything more than a PDF plug-in, you're S.O.L. I'd love it if customers would use a proper browser (even IE7 would do) but it just doesn't happen. I know people who are still rolling out XP with that abomination IE6!

  28. The Avangelist


    They'll drop it, but not for a good decade of flogging that dead horse.

    Not having developed with it yet, I can't say whether it's any good, but for me, it is yet another bolt on for your browser, and since the flash platform, which of course devoured shockwave, is quite apply cruising along, why rock the apple cart?

    I am sure that whatever I may be able to do with silverlight I can most likely do with a bit of AS3, some flex and flash build and a tickle of javascript - something else MS tried to tamper and gave up with.

    Sometimes I am amazed that .NET still exists.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @The BigYin

    Thanks for sharing. Yes that's a common situation. It's also an ironical one. Since they have to put in these "requirements" because of vendor lockin. Which is something they want to prevent... and round and round the circle goes.

    So if a customer is serious about getting rid of vendor lockin, then they will listen to the arguments.

    Given the situation you describe, your boss will listen if you find customers that would want an application based on open source or don't care about the plugin install.

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