back to article Is Microsoft's Silverlight evil?

That's really the question John Markoff is asking in this New York Times piece about the way the NBC Olympics streaming video is putting Microsoft's browser plug-in on the map. Someone has even popped up to state that this is another go at technology monopoly: "They're still playing the same games," said Michael R. Nelson, …

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Linux

Yes but....

Probably not relevent in this context and no great loss.

You can no longer look at RyanAir's rooute map in Opera.

Just a redirect telling me to use IE7 (as if)

Another M$ push toward Redmond tech.

One giant step for M$ one huge leap backward for the competition.

But we've been promised compatability :-)

Cynic moi?

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Paris Hilton

John Markoff..

Since when has John Markoff been a reliable judge of anything? Wasnt he the guy who indirectly caused Mitnick to be accused of things which he did not commit?

P.H. because even SHE can tell that Markoff is an idiot.

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Pirate

Perhaps you should look a little harder...

Get a box without Silverlight...

Fireup WireShark...

Monitor the NIC

Download and Install Silverlight....

Now... don't look at anything in silverlight... just sit and watch...

Where did those packets come from?

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It is very clear though

I've watched a few events from the nbcolympics site, politics / cross platform aside, it really is very good quality.

It puts most of the flash video streams I've watched to shame, as well as most of the Hulu streams.

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Silver badge

newflash!

The suit from CNET said

> This makes YouTube seem like student video

Personally I thought youtube *was* student video. Even the best of it is shaky, out of focus, with lousy sound, worse colours and diabolical resolution.

Personally, I don't care whether Silverlight's better or worse than Flash. Since I run Linux/Firefox X64, installing Adobe's offering brings back bad memories of configuring printers in Windows 3.1 (get this addon, download that wrapper, rename something else, copy files here, there and everywhere - then when all's done it plays a few websites until it locks/crashes/dumps). So if it spurs Adobe to produce a player for more platforms I'll be happy. Alternatively if MS produces a silverlight thingy for my platform, I'll drop Flash faster than an oozing baby.

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Gates Horns

When once you wear the crown of "liar"

you will never be able to remove the stain again.

MS deserve the hole they've dug themselves. They've dug it with full knowledge of how they are harming IT but with the steadfast belief that this is fine as long as they get the bennies.

So MS have to PROVE themselves worthy of trust. And that takes longer than they've taken proving themselves unworthy of it.

If they want interoperability, open up ALL patents. They can keep them, but this only helps with patent trolls if they open up patents: the troll makes nothing but if their patent requires MS's patent, they can require that the patent is void unless they pay MS an amount that is as much as the patent troll's danegeld.

After all, MS keeps maintaining that they wouldn't have made it with SW patents and that they only have them for defensive purposes.

Prove it.

Drop patents, L&F marks and copyrights. Open it up.

Double dare ya!

If they don't then why should we trust them on their word alone?

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Ed
Stop

YouTube may look crap...

.. but that has nothing to do with Flash really. Silverlight is meant to be more than a video player... Flash can do perfectly good, even HD video.

I've never used Silverlight or any Silverlight app, but if the only way they can get people to use it is by paying TV networks to use it to stream video, I think they've got a serious uphill struggle...

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aL

the question is..

is flash evil? flash currently has a monopoly on RIAs by any standard, it uses its own propriatary language(action script) and is closed on most platforms.

the core of silverlight is also closed source, but you can use any .net languange with it, you can use ruby, python,vb AND javascript (how is downplaying javascript again? that remark is simply untrue.. silverlight 1 is utterly dependant on javascript and silverlight2 offers far more interop with javascript than flash ever had) and the implementations of the dynamic languages are open source..

that remark by the adobe exec is also wrong.. infact silverlight does feature 3d and even does so on win2000 (for witch wpf is not even available) microsoft has said many times that it means to make silverlight a compatible subset of wpf..

(sadly that is not completly the case right now and that makes it abit of a pain moving back and fourth between wpf and silverlight)

its a mistake to think that the developer division of microsoft is the same as the windows and office division (who, i agree, can be quite evil, espicially the office teams).. there are alot of open source buffs in dev div as its called that are trying (and succeding) to change microsoft from the inside..

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aL

re dave

surely you dont blame microsoft for that.. look at it this way, had the page used silverlgiht it would have worked in ff, ie and safari, not just ie :) (opera is still not supported but they claim its on the way)

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Definately evil

From the attempted use of NBC's video streaming, one of the key features of silverlight/mono appears to be to block Linux or any version of Firefox past 1.5 from having access despite having the right plugins.

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Not really

Microsoft no longer have a vice-like grip on our ideas-space thanks to competition from Google, Adobe, FOSS - so I guess we can say that capitalism works, at least some of the time.

Silverlight is just another framework to code against. Wherever a framework comes from, there will be pockets of obscurity & frustration. Even using a FOSS solution, if one hits a serious pothole & has a project due by week's end, being able to hack the framework is of minor comfort. Even if one does put on the kettle & get stuck in, the finessing has to be integrated back into the main project. Fixing FOSS can be significant work, even if ultimately satisfying.

Bottom line for me: Yeah it's Microsoft (boo, hiss, etc), but it ain't too shabby & (with .NET 3.5) works under XP & is no worse than any other solution.

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Alert

Not really a evil...

as mentioned in the story, if there wasn't Silverlight we would have Flash, or urmm Flash. And atleast if MS is pushing an alternative with better video play than Flash, it does give an incentive for Adobe to bother to improve Flash and not just screw around like the did with the CS3 products.

If MS isn't a big enough incentive for Adobe, they disearve to loose the market to MS.

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Gates Horns

Multi-platform...

...meaning Windows and Mac only? No Linux support that I can see; also no Opera support. In fact, compared with Flash, hardly cross-platform at all.

http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/resources/install.aspx?mode=sysreq&reason=unsupportedplatform#sysreq

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Anonymous Coward

Ryanair route map works in Firefox

Must be a problem with Opera :-)

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Stop

"I think that bridge has now been crossed"

You think ? Does Silverlight *really* work on Linux or Mac ? No ?

Are Microsoft even trying to enable that ? No ?

You mention the competition being Flash (and the Flex framework)- that *does* run everywhere (well, every-32-bit-where). Unless I was being paid by Microsoft, why would I choose to needlessly restrict my user base ?

At least Flex is mostly open source...

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Anonymous Coward

misses the point

"...energizing Adobe, which is not a bad thing."

How is being locked into one proprietary format different than another?

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IT Angle

This will be a developing trend

as Microsoft is deliberately trying to segment the Internet. By forcing user (if they want to for example see the RyanAir route map) to use both browsers and O/S that support this 'Silverlight' whick means in effect WINDOW Only IMHO they are trying to create a two tier internet. Those with Silverlight and those without.

AFAIK, in times like these, with people short of money then I think it is plane crazy for anyone selling stuff over the internet to deliberately cut off a segment of their market.

Perhaps the IT Droids will get their collective buts kicked when their sales start dropping off because of some stupid IT Decision.

There again, as far as I'm concerned the likes of RyanAir and EasyJet can go out of business tomorrow and I'll be happy. Neither of them care for their customers so on second thoughts, this move does not surprise me in the slightest.

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Gates Horns

Hmmm

Kinda counter to that, Silverlight works in Firefox..

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Gates Horns

Err, Yes.

If Mono actually worked (it does not, nor is it likely to in the near future, even with backing from Novell and Microsoft), then like the article you could claim that Silverlight is maybe just quasi-evil, relative to flash at least.

Then you could take Microsoft's track record for creating stable cross platform industry standards, which do not lock the user into further transactions with the Beast.

From my perspective it's more like the lord of the ninth level of hell than just a little bit evil.

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Silverlight a pain

It doesn't even work on many machines still perfectly capable of running Windows XP, such as the original Athlon models (Athlon XPs were the first to support SSE which Microsoft decided is a requirement for Silverlight but they sure don't make that very clear when you go to install it, it just fails during the install later on with a cryptic error message). At least flash will run on most systems.

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Linux

Web video has always annoyed me...

because as far as I'm concerned it's long been a 'solved problem'. There's a couple of tags you can use to embed a video and it will play just fine out of the box in MSIE5, MSIE6, MSIE7 (up until a recent update) and Opera and Firefox on any platform with the appropriate media plugin (xine, mplayer, whatever). This has been working just fine for years. Sure, Mr Stallman will complain that you have to install some non-free codecs but Flash isn't exactly free either.

I never understood why people felt they had to use Flash in the first place. Or Java. Or some asinine arrangements of objects-within-frames-within-windows pointing to a daisy-chain of playlist URL's that can only possibly work on the one OS and browser it was tested with.

However, it seems that Microsoft have recently decided that was too easy (perhaps this is another move to push silverlight?) so now when you have a page with embedded video the plain and simple way that always used to work, you get a yellow security bar and have to allow it to play.

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Gates Halo

Been using Silverlight frequently, and...

...I've had no issues with it whatsoever, and I'm impressed I guess.

It's been a part of MLB.com's media service, for watching live games/feeds online using their Mosaic software, and the quality is astoundingly good.

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Jobs Horns

...not now, and now not ever!

1: Do not trust Microsoft.

2: Do not trust anything they say.

3: Do not trust anything they do.

4: Do not trust anything they produce.

5: Do not trust anything they are involved with.

6: See point number 1.

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Silver badge
Linux

Yes, it is evil

Another MS web technology not supported on Linux, therefore I will not use it, unless MS supplies a fully-supported Linux package, like most its compatitors do.

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forget about linux and mac what about windows

Like Lennart I can't install Silverlight on an xp pro machine because my athlon processor isn't suitable.

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Flash? Silverlight? Only SVG is open.

Sod Flash and Silverlight. If we truly care about open standards we should all try and use SVG with JavaScript. Browsers based on Gecko (like Firefox) and WebKit (like Safari) support most of the spec, as does Opera. For some reason though MS has no plans to add native support to Internet Explorer. Hmm...

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Flame

Doesn't work in Linux, I don't want it.

Most importantly: If it doesn't work in Linux, I don't want it. I can't use it. I have no interest. I don't use Windows or Mac and refuse to do so.

Sadly, because the Olympics website requires it, I can't use the Olympics website. If it were to use Flash, like the rest of the world, I could use it just fine.

This isn't me saying that I like Flash. (I hate it and have it disabled for most websites via NoScript, etc.) That's me saying the same thing many Windows lovers say to Linux users: "Why did you choose to use Linux when you knew it wouldn't do XYZ." Why did they choose to use a plugin that is installed hardly anywhere and doesn't work for everyone when they could have just as easily used Flash, which is on pretty much everything, has been tested on everything, and is widely installed already.

Silverlight does not make streaming video better. It does not do anything for the Olympics (or probably anyone else) that Flash couldn't already do.

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Gates Horns

@Developing trends

It usually isn't the "IT Droids" that choose to use these sort of restrictive platforms, it is the higher ups who spend lunchtime with their MS gold partners who tell them that they "really need to use Silverlight because it is great and stuff and btw here are some tickets to friday nights game".

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Boffin

The more things change...

...the more Microsoft seems Hell-bent on continuing to play the same-old dirty-pool... while pretending (poorly) to be an "innovator", and Saint.

The simple fact is that "Silverlight" IS MS-proprietary, intentionally-limited, and specifically designed to lock people into Microsoft-controlled products. It does not, and (if Microsoft has anything to say about it) will not, exist on anything other than Microsoft approved (obviously, non-competing) platforms. And, it doesnt actually provide anything that isnt, basically, already available.

Currently, we have "Flash" running on several different versions of Windows, AND Linux, AND within many different browsers, without any problems (and, "Flash" obviously exists throughout the "Mac" ecosystem). This is because, even though "Flash" is also "proprietary", Adobe isnt tied to PUSHING any specific platform upon consumers (unlike, Microsoft)... nor does any company have as much documented-history (as Microsoft does), of doing exactly this.

Frankly, "Silverlight" IS directly-tied to Microsoft-specific technologies and methodologies (as it was designed to be). In fact, this reminds me of when Microsoft attempted to get motherboard BIOS companies to fundamentally alter basic BIOS-operation, itself, to directly reflect MS-Windows-specific APIs, or, when Microsoft began proposing new "internet protocols" that were, also, actually tied directly to Microsofts APIs.

And, I think all of this is, clearly, part of Microsofts latest push for their, so-called, "Cloud Computing"... which will basically eliminate the Windows-OS in favor of a (strictly Microsoft-controlled), perpetual-payment, "thin-client", "computing-environment"... which will actually turn computers into nothing more than Microsoft-services delivery-devices (Microsofts perennial dream).

So... this is just the same-old... business as usual, for Microsoft.

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Thumb Up

re: Could be a dveloping trend

Truly RyanAir are evil. However, I've come across some really good helpful people in EasyJet customer service who didn't try and extract money from me, and ven phoned me back to tell me that they were wrong and that things could be done without spending money. And their airport staff can be really cool when you are travelling with tired small people.

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Dead Vulture

It isn't the tech, its the company

I seem to think NT 3.5 supported Apple's HPFS...

then it was read-only...

then it was gone.

It isn't a question of how good the tech is, its a question of whether you trust the company. A bad reputation is very hard to shake, which is why any company which isn't already a dominant power can't get away with it.

Still, it is probably good for flash to have some competition.

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Bronze badge
Gates Horns

Redlight

All Silverlight has to do is control a codec and it looks like a brilliant product. Nevermind that any number of H.264/AAC compatible video plugins could do the same. People see YouTube and assume that online video can't look good.

I'd bet that Microsoft won the deal by promising free video hosting and bulletproof DRM.

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last I checked...

Adobe doesn't have a monopoly they repeatedly leverage in order to force others out of related markets. Microsoft, on the other hand, has done so repeatedly for the last 3 decades.

Silverlight is more of the same from Microsoft. Embrace, extend, extinguish. Microsoft is not in the business of creating cross-platform open standards that anyone can use. Microsoft is in the business of foisting off sub-standard crap down gullible peoples throats, then shutting down any competition that raises its head.

They'll give the gullible fools enough rope, use their monopoly to make sure nobody else can compete, then cut everyone off at the knees - with great profits for Microsoft. It's illegal, it's immoral, yet they've been getting away with it for almost 30 years.

Don't fall for their latest trick. Avoid Silverlight. Avoid Mono. Avoid anything that Microsoft wants you to use, because it's just bait to destroy your company, or at the very least suck as much money out of it as they can. Whether they provide anything in return or not.

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Gates Horns

It's absolutely not multiplatform...

The Olympics videos don't work on my ubuntu netbook or on my Wii browser. Both of these have flash, but because of the decision from NBC to backs Silverlight I can't access the videos. Also it seems it only works on intel macs.

Granted there is an implementation of Silverlight for Linux developped in collaboration between Novel and Microsoft, but it is way behind the Mac and Windows versions and can't play Video (at least the availlable plugin can't)!

With flash all platforms get the same features at roughly the same time, when Microsoft will do that THEN it will be multiplatform. And yes that may mean delaying some features on Windows to allow Linux and consoles to catch up or pour more resources on Linux / consoles development, but if they want to have a presence on the web that is something they must do. IMHO the time when the web was a Windows and Mac only affair is way over.

If you look at the web statistics of netstat, the windows + mac intel platform accounts for 96.25% of the web traffic. This means that 3.75% of the web is still cut off from Silverlights (and the olympics Videos). 3.75% of the tens of millions of web surfers in the US is a lot of people now pissed at Microsoft and NBC.

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Gates Horns

Is Microsoft's Silverlight evil?

Maybe not, but it IS the bastard child of Satan himself.

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Stop

Microsoft is NOT Evil

It is just doing what any individual or corporation does - trying to maximise profit for itself. In the case of MS, with a functional monopoly, this means not competing in the market, but cutting out the competition from the market. Adam Smith knew that that is what monopolies do.

I find it hilarious that the author, apparently a MS fan, expects anything different. Well, duh.

Ladies & gentlemen - if you want MS to compete for your business, don't hand them a monopoly. Use Linux, Mac, Solaris, BSD or something, anything, else to make MS compete. As long as you keep handing over your money to MS without trying the alternatives, it will carry on in the same way. Why wouldn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

Baaaaaa

"Kinda counter to that, Silverlight works in Firefox.."

"Ryanair route map works in Firefox".........etc.

Lesson #1 - check for ovine influence before making statements.......on a windoze platform only.

Hope for Linux users - http://www.mono-project.com/Moonlight . The M$ supported version for Linux from Novell but it's still very much a work in progress.

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Tom
Silver badge

No new technology here now move one...

Both flash and silverlight seem to provide no new technology but merely try and force lockin.

Why bother trying to prevent computer users from copying olympic video when I can make a digital HD recording from a TV card? And with a soldering iron I can do the same from my graphics card - and I probably dont need a soldering iron.

If you think flash and silverlight provide much new technolgy then go and sue your "Technology 101 for the really gullible provided by the badly informed" trainers.

DRM - a new type of deckchair for the Titanic. It can be used to block doors to stop passengers escaping with the towels!

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Dan
Silver badge
Gates Horns

I tried to contact Ryanair...

... to tell them that I'm not sure how much Microsoft paid them to push Silverlight but I'm sure that their flights bring them in more money and they'll take that into consideration when developing a usable website for their customers.

But I could only find premium rate numbers on their website.

Only a company which insulates itself so much from customer feedback as Ryanair does would rip out something which worked for everyone and make them download yet another unnecessary plug-in (and something which they might not have permission to do at work).

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Gates Halo

@By Tom Chiverton

"Does Silverlight *really* work on Linux or Mac ? No ?"

Seems to work just fine on my Mac (Mac Mini, 1.5GHz Core Solo) for watching mlb.tv streams. I get better performance using Silverlight than if I used Flip4Mac.

Considering the well-known crappy implementation of Flash on the Mac platform I'll carry on using Silverlight, thank you.

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aL

re *

@tom: err get your facts strait.. silverlight DOES works win macs. both in safari and firefox. visual studio can even set breakpoints in silverlight apps running on a mac.

@various others

it is true that microsoft them selvs are not makeing a silverlight version for linux. however they have said multiple times that they are going to have linux support in the form of moonlight witch is being made by the mono guys. microsoft has contributed their entire test suite for silverlight to the moonlight project.. you are all right, microsoft has to proove that it means buisness. but they have enough attepmts to do that to not just dissmiss them imo.

they have realised that they do have to have linux support to get acceptance..

check out these sites if you dont belive me (silverlight2 is refferd to as silverlight 1.1 in the last article)

http://www.mono-project.com/Moonlight

http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2007/Sep-05.html

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Coat

Silverlight BetaMax

Silverlight is a joy to use in VS2008, with all the power of C#3.5 and all the debugging tools of any Enterprise Application. Then you have Microsoft doing you have to run it on Vista due to the if(os!="Vista") statement.

By contrast Flash runs on anything, it is as ubiquitous as air. There is a trend by MS force the failed vista platform on the population. The ‘YouTube - The Mojave Experiment: Windows Vista’ was such lame propaganda – that failed for me when I say “wow you mean when I type in CALC in the command like I get the Calculator – I never knew IT could do that!”

Then there is the server issue for Silverlight – it would be very sad for anyone for the Silverlight server to be very hungry, more so that something serving Flash.

Even Linux servers running Mono would be hard pushed to help Silverlight.

So as a fan of Silverlight with all the plusses that it gives to the development teams – as a Technical Architect I can only professionally recommend Flash as commercially a business wants reach. You want reach for those that have the money you want.

It is less that Silverlight is evil, just the business behind it.

This is getting us to a Cold War moment with Mircosoft, you can never trust them even if they swear on the bible.

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@AC

A 'two tier' internet? Those with a plug-in and those without? It's been happening for years. There was JavaScript - if you didn't have it (or were worried about the security of it) you simply couldn't use many sites. Flash - so many sites cut you off if you didn't have flash (and many still do - and even crazier many want you to have the latest version). RSS - how long was it until IE got RSS built in? And so it goes. People who run websites make these decisions, for right or wrong, based on what they want to provide and what they perceive their customers want. Or sometimes based on what their agency says is 'Kewl'

People will always want to make things whizzy and take advantage of the latest technology to deliver 'experiences' on the web. If you want to be in, you get what's needed to make use. If you don't, that's your choice but nobody is forcing you - only your own desire to use a given site.

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Gates Halo

Freetard Marxists

Why should MS make silverlight compatible with a platform of a competitor or a cooperative of freetards? When you improve your house with a spot of DIY, do you freetards improve the house of your neighbour? No, but he might then be motivated to improve his, since it will look increasingly old and crappy.

And what if there were to be a 2 or 3 tier internet eventually? If you want the free stuff, together with all the dangerous crap then launch Level 1 connection. If you want a higher quality product, paid for, and much more likely then to be more secure - subscriber only network for example - then go launch Level 2 connection, etc.

Nothing wrong with free and / or multiple compatability software, communities, cooperation, etc, but also nothing wrong with making a profit and securing your business interests for the long-term.

Goodness me, even the REAL Marxists in Russia and China do that nowadays, and it's something the amatuer / student Marxists in the West could learn from!

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@zcat

"Sure, Mr Stallman will complain that you have to install some non-free codecs but Flash isn't exactly free either."

Gnash, however, isn't.

Theora is free too.

And BOTH of these being free means that the W3C is free to require at least support of them because ANYONE can make a version for their systems, propriatory or not.

However, theora was nixed by Nokia because they want the bennies from patents on media codecs to be able to go to them. That isn't possible with free and open codecs.

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@Antony Riley

> If Mono actually worked (it does not, nor is it likely to in the near future...

Wha? I take it from this statement that you have never used Mono. I have... it works just fine.

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Silver badge
Gates Horns

@mr greedy

hey greedy,

I tried it in firefox.

Doesn't work.

Whats that?

Oh, you mean it works in firefox ON WINDOWS.

Right.

Got it.

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Gates Horns

Is Silverlight evil?

Is the pope catholic?

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IT Angle

Really? Not evil?

If you are a Linux user, you can't watch Olympics. If you are a PowerPC mac owner, you can't watch either.

I can't comment on Silverlight video quality (did they invent a new codec?) since I can't install Silverlight!

That is your "little evil" plugin.

I think folks at The Register should check you editorially, nobody dared to write such an article even on CNET, yes CNET I tell you!

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Bronze badge

@ multi-platform

And there will never ba a version for OS/2.

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