back to article Microsoft's Silverlight 4 - Flash developers need not apply

Microsoft's Silverlight 4 shows remarkable progress since version 3, released in July. The pace of development shows Microsoft is serious about making this work - but is it delivering something developers can use? The answer is a guarded "yes". Version 4 is a huge improvement, resolving many of the most frustrating aspects of …


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  1. John Doe 1

    Hey, I've got a radical idea

    Microsoft already has a Mac BU (business unit) with Mac developers. Why don't they leverage this available wealth of talent to port Silverlight fully to MacOS X (and by extension, making it essentailly iPhone-ready)?

    That would deny anyone the opportunity to say it's essentially Windows-only as a reason for not adopting it? (Moonlight exists for Linux but its feature set lags and is not as compatible or fully implemented as the Windows Silverlight is. My colleagues discovered this the hard way.)

    Personally, I think some healthy (true) multi-platform competition is good. I'm not that fond of Microsoft, but they already have this talent in-house -- why not make use of it? Silly, radical idea, I know... :-)

    1. Blain Hamon

      We've been here before

      Only with WMV. MSFT came out with a windows media player for the Mac, let it languish, and finally killed it off with third party picking up the slack (See: Flip4Mac). Even if it's not some diabolical scheme, there's business reasons to focus on Windows (See: Adobe Flash CPU performance on Mac, Linux).

      I'm sure Silverlight will be installed on every copy of Windows by sheer virtue of bundling/updates/IE. But because of history and the above reasons, even if they did have a decent port, I'd have no desire to see Silverlight on my machine.

    2. OffBeatMammal

      apart from OLE Automation...

      ... Silverlight is already fully cross-platform between Intel based OSX machines and Windows

      (and realistically I wonder how much use OLE Automation will get outside line of business apps where the IT deplartment already choose the platform)

  2. Alan L

    You know ...

    ... it wouldn't surprise me if A's stuff were written with Visual Studio/Expression Suite anyway :-)

  3. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Not so sure

    I was just at an MS developer conference where they were plugging Silverlight like mad (along with sharepoint for some reason!)

    It runs EVERYWHERE they said - well if you define everywhere to be Windows + MAC.

    What about phones we asked = "we can't confirm anything but there may be some news in the next Windows mobile release"

    So it might be available for the worlds worst selling phone platform.

    WinForms and WPF is dead - Silverlight is the new desktop.

    So can we open files? Yes - in my documents, if the user agrees to a whole bunch of scary security pop-ups.

    And they now have it working in Chrome (mostly, and unofficially)

  4. Charles Calthrop

    roll on html5

    Microsoft has done a lot of good stuff but I will never forgive them for ie6 so the sooner they fuck off of the web, the better as far as i am concerned.

  5. robert 15

    sylverlight on symbian

    they need to make a version for the symbian OS too. My Setanta-i subscription uses silverlight, and Im unable to watch the games on my phone.

  6. Mr Young

    Damn it!

    I thought you said 'slithershite' mkiv

  7. Mark Barnes

    Ok for now but..

    Whats the chances that some future revision of SL stipulates that the only browser that can run the product is IE <insert revision here> - vendors who used earliers version of SL would then be left with the painful decision of either redoing something in flash (if its still around by then) or being forced by MS to continue down the SL path and thereby inadvertantly also forcing their consumers to be browser specific.

  8. Ian Davies

    Jesus Fucking Christ


    Seriously. It's bad enough having one proprietary runtime to fucking deal with while calming down idiot marketeers who get a hard-on about building websites entirely in Flash. We don't want another. Competition here isn't good, it just makes for a bigger bag of dogs' cocks.

    I hope to Buddha's balls that HTML5 gets it's shit together quickly.

    1. Unlimited

      office live is why

      MS want to deliver Office as an RIA/SAAS. They don't want to use Flash or Java or Ajax. So they build Silverlight for themselves, give it away to all their partners and also offer it for sale to anyone else who wants it.

  9. Big-nosed Pengie

    If I were a developer...

    I'd ask myself whether I wanted my stuff to poterntially reach either 100% of users or 70-60% and falling.

    If I chose the former I doubt that I'd be a developer for much longer.

    1. Unlimited

      former latter + flash devs apply


      Former: The option that appeared first in the sentence. In your case, former = 100%. Is that what you meant to communicate?

      Tim Anderson:

      Why does the title contain "Flash devs need not apply". It doesn't seem relevant to anything in the article. Are you saying no Flash/Flex developers should ever consider using Silverlight?

    2. OffBeatMammal

      If you build it...

      if your application / content is good enough and compelling then users will install Silverlight.

      Back in the day I remember when Flash had a <10% ubiquity but somehow they got it up... it took almost a decade though. 3 years after launch Silverlight is half way there...

  10. John O'Hare
    Gates Horns

    Another reason for using Flash

    "Flash is hard to shift, with greater penetration in web browsers, much better device support, and a strong industry alliance in the form of its Open Screen Project."

    Forgot the strongest point; Adobe has every reason in the world to make Flash work on as many platforms as possible, while MS has as strong reasons to ensure Silverlight does NOT run (properly) on non-windows platforms.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      @@Adobe has every reason in the world to make Flash work on as many platforms as possible

      ...apart from Linux of course which they couldn't give a horse's todger for.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Flash on Linux works pretty well

        I havn't seen much trouble with Flash compatibility on Linux myself for the last 2-3 years, apart from the fact that the Adobe Flash player Linux plugins are closed source and the open source Gnash alternative isn't ready for prime time as a browser plugin quite yet.

        As far as Flash media content is concerned, it seems that Linux users can rip the DRM right off it with mencoder and flvstreamer, enabling it to be decoded, stored and viewed on a wider range of devices, which gives Linux Flash users an advantage over those using platforms fully owned by anyone other than themselves. So perhaps we could use a flash browser plugin that lets us rip a flash video to disk directly from the web browser, while pretending to be Flash player to the website.

      2. Cameron Colley

        It works OK on my machine.

        I've had the Adobe Flash 10 plugin under Firefox, Opera and Chrome on Ubuntu for a fair few months now and it seems to work OK. Admittedly, it may be slower than it is on Windows (I have no way of knowing) but it seems to do the job OK.

        Yes, it would be nice to have a .deb for it -- but part of the fact that isn't happening is the whole proprietary vs GNU problem which affects many things under Linux.

      3. Tom Chiverton 1

        eh ?

        If Adobe don't "give a horse's todger" for Linux, why was Linux the first platform to get a 64bit Player ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Their flash player is crap and the world is STILL waiting for a shockwave player.

          They'll have a long wait.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        G5 PPC Mac

        I had to give up on linux on my G5 because of the lack of PPC flash, Adobe only seem interested in Intel linux.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cool, a new way of making ugly calculator apps!

    Thanks Microsoft!

  12. Alan Bourke
    Thumb Up

    Dogs Cocks

    @Ian Davies


    I wouldn't worry overly though - I suspect the real strength of Silverlight will be line-of-business applications.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MIssing the point

    The place that Silverlight will truly shine is in business and enterprise applications.

    Most coders who I know are software consultants and app developers for enterprise and finance apps and Silverlight is the hottest thing around right now. Nobody in the business community cares if its only on 45% of the desktops in the consumer world.

    You ever try to write a reporting suite that pulls data from SQL with Flash? How much fun did you have? :)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      SQL and Flash vs SQL and Silverlight

      I concur.

      But the work has already been done to query and output some glossy flashy report/graph/pie etc...

      Why do it again in Silverlight? Why?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    It's a Tarp!

    The amount of MS stuff you have to have installed to develop in this is ridiculous. Flash can be developed in Eclipse on just about anything without lashing of MS only frameworks, webservers, IDEs.

    1. OffBeatMammal

      actually you can use Eclipse

      Silverlight isn't tied to Visual Studio ... there are Eclipse plug-ins etc.

      you can also develop against it in Python and other dynamic languages if you want (can Flash do that? can HTML5 do that?)

      Check out Gestalt at for more

  15. Kevin Bailey

    'I had to fiddle with the registry to get this working'

    Same old MS...

    'Produce shit now - promise better later'

    They've been doing the same since Word 3.0 - see

    1. Alan Bourke

      had to fiddle with the registry to get this working'

      Er, Silverlight 4 and VS2010 are still in beta. Expect Registry fiddling.

      The development stuff they produce generally just installs, which isn't always my experience with dev tools in say the Linux world. Not that there's anything like VS in the Linux world.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rarer than chicken lips

    Has anybody *actually* visited a site that is using it? Microsoft sites don't count.

    1. Number6

      Re: Rarer than chick lips

      Sadly the UK Parliament site uses it. They offer Windows Media Format as an alternative but I think it defaults to Silverlight.

    2. Al Jones

      Some piddly little airline called Ryanair uses it.

      Do they count?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Linux. Who Cares?

    Linux has like 1% desktop market share. If I was a software company, then I wouldn't bother developing for it either. If having good "geek cred" is the real reason to develop a Linux version of anything, then why bother?

  18. David Martin
    Jobs Horns

    In fairness

    First off, I use Linux. BTW 1% of desktop PC users is a lot of people.

    I don't understand the criticism of the COM deployment feature though - it's surely just an alternative way of deploying a SL app?

    That doesn't mean I trust MS's motives - embrace (to gain share), extend (to lock in), destroy (the competition - having achieved market leadership) - same as ever. They just haven't got to the "extend" phase yet.

    To be fair to MS, I am thankful, having to use Lotus Notes every day, that MS occupy the dominant desktop software position nowadays and not IBM.

  19. Jolyon Ralph

    I love the smell of fail in the morning

    Glad to see Microsoft still haven't got the first fucking clue about the internet.

  20. Matt 75

    developers unlikely to switch

    Programmers in most of the areas where something like Flash or Silverlight actually makes sense (i.e. web games, e-learning, RIAs, annoying stupid ad banners and - for the moment at least, web video) already tend to know ActionScript and all the foibles of the Flash API back to front. So where's the advantage of switching to Silverlight programming - especially when all designers work in Flash?

    Even Adobe's efforts to make the Flash IDE the most annoyingly crash-happy application ever would be unlikely to make anyone switch over.

  21. OffBeatMammal

    lies, damn lies and statistics

    "Silverlight can only muster around 45 per cent according to - though that figure took a lurch upward last month, partly thanks to an increased sample size"

    hmmm... does that mean the sample is now more representative, or that somehow you get a less accurate percentage by sampling more sites?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    COM for Mac

    Mary Jo Foley did say Microsoft is evaluating adding a COM like interface to Silverlight to Mac ... and btw Linux is no one operating system, it's atleast 5 distros which update themselves every 6 months, with different package managers, ...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down







    Microsoft can kiss my Butt-Light.

    I use Ubuntu.

  24. Frank Thomas


    well i may be one of those .net devs they want to please, but until the netflix viewer works on linux/mono I'm not interested.

  25. DrXym Silver badge

    Not surprising really

    I am not surprised in the slightest that Windows is getting the most attention? This was the point all along - produce a nominally cross-platform / cross-browser runtime, build up market share, and then slowly let the non-Windows platforms atrophy. Why is anyone surprised at all?

    Microsoft are paying lip service to other platforms. Mono / Moonlight is just a running joke on the open source community. Moonlight is barely at version 2 and already Silverlight is at version 4. And of course development tools for Linux are awful. MS know the open source community will NEVER keep up with silverlight and will NEVER support their DRM / codecs properly and never compete with their tools so they let it live on as a token project that they can be mentioned when people raise the subject of cross-platform support.

    Despite this there is no doubt that Silverlight is better architected than Flex (e.g. multi-threading), but I wonder why anyone wants to sacrifice a ubquitous solution for one which is trying to coral people into the Windows / MS domain. If Flex is not to people's liking then JavaFX would be a better long term solution although it has its own issues.

  26. HarryCambs
    Thumb Down

    ActiveX 2.0

    It will turn out as yet another Microsoft failure and show their inability to penetrate any market other than their encumbered office market base.

    While the rest of the world (Google, OSS movement in general) is moving away from flash and plugins in general with HTML5. It is just like pop ads all over again which thanks god have been almost eradicated with popup blockers and now the same is happening with plugins.

    I can see a niche market with the naive customers who fell for asp .net, specially in the financial sector, where office integration is relevant.

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