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back to article Microsoft's Silverlight 4 - more than Flash envy

2010 is proving to be a big year for Silverlight, Microsoft's cross-platform browser plug-in. "Four releases in two and a half years," said vice president Scott Guthrie at the launch of Silverlight 4.0 this month, and as Microsoft reveals more pieces of its strategy, the rationale for this energetic development is also emerging …

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Paris Hilton

Cross Platform? No.

Any time I see a piece that dutifully inserts "cross-platform" into the primary description of Silverlight I know it's PR. It's not cross platform, it doesn't run on Linux. Silverlight puts all platforms at the mercy of Microsoft again. Just say no.

Paris? She doesn't want to be locked in.

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FAIL

It does...

...however run on OS X. That makes it cross-platform. This means they cover 99.5% of the desktop client market. Not bad really.

Better than Java!

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Anonymous Coward

and desktop Linux is what, still <1%?

Linux is great on servers, but really... it just doesn't cut it as a consumer desktop yet - and I say that using it as my primary desktop OS.

that said, MS are supporting the Moonlight project to get a pretty close to parity open source port - I've been using it to watch things like the winter Olympics and it was fine.

if you're using Linux and bitching about something not being supported or working well then... either contribute to the OSS project that gives you it or make a better choice.

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Black Helicopters

No good on a phone

When Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 appears on the market, there is not going to be any sophisticated applications for it. Mainly because the APIs are so immature. It's going to take Microsoft at least a couple of years to bring it up to standard. Also, the Silverlight runtime on the phone is going to be so slow. You can forget handwriting recognition in these machines. Won't happen.

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Megaphone

Adobe Flash is bad but silverlight is worse

Two words:

WEB STANDARDS

Microsoft can go fly a kite, I am ready for standars so if I decide to buy an Android phone or iPhone to replace the Blackberry it should be a great internet experience, not some POS Zune phone that can get viruses!

The decade or two of MS is gone, all the high school and college kids want Macs and iPhones. Microsoft is not cool and they cannot buy cool. IBM was smart and did not try to buy cool when they were loosing the war to the PC generation. MS, not so smart.

-The Average Joe

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Gold badge

Hmm.

Operating system in a box. (Or a browser.) They get this far enough and you won't need a full-fat "windows consumer client operating system." Tiny cheap embedded devices running the equivalent of "windows 8 core edition" with a browser and silverlight. Slap 'em on some sort of touchscreen and *paf* consumer computing dealt with. (Eee-top touch, mobile phone, mPad, HTPC, what-have-you.)

Far more interesting to me is this question: when will silverlight be capable of running serious 3D gaming? I ask only because if I were programming for the next MS console, I'd give some serious thought to that console essentially being a pair of the fattest CPUs and GPUs I could find, a whack of RAM, some flash and that above mentioned silverlight-in-a-box OS. Would make cross-device compatibility easy, integrating into “windows live 2” or whatever it will be called, and other things.

Imagine: Splinter Cell 24 (Fischer is oh so tired,) a great geriatric shoot-‘em-up for the console, with a more lightweight add-on DLC super bonus special sauce for your WinPhone8 (with blue crystals!) Your desktop could also play the Splinter Cell 24 (if you didn’t have a console) because it was just a silverlight game, downloaded through the LiveStore.

As I said: Operating system in a box/browser. Makes me go hmmmm.

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Happy

Good Review

I am especially interested in local printing from a client - before I had to send a job back to a server and "map" the local printer to the calling client. Overly complicated!

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Anonymous Coward

no ta

it'll be a cold day in hell before I ever install silverlight. Or flash for that matter (youtube and iplayer are both perfectly usable with the right greasemonkey scripts/get-iplayer)

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Bronze badge
WTF?

*snore!*

And real people will just get on fine with Flash and Silverlight.

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Black Helicopters

Powerful capabilities...

...but will they find their biggest audience in the hands of crackers and malware authors? File access, COM interop, native code execution? I know Microsoft have improved their attention to security, but those capabilities in a browser plug-in scare me.

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Anonymous Coward

Cross platform

"Silverlight, Microsoft's cross-platform browser plug-in"

Oy veh!

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Wither WPF?

It's that last sentence that's the most important I think, and developers seem pretty slow picking up on this, too easily dismissing it as a Flash-clone or video technology.

At this year's UK Tech Days Microsoft event, timed to coincide with the launch of VS2010, there was a day dedicated to client development and I was looking forward to a session on Windows client development, expecting an hour on WPF. What we got instead was an hour on Silverlight Out of Browser, and the three letters "W" "P" and "F" appeared to have been forcibly banned from the presentation. This is all the more strange given that the new 2010 release of Visual Studio is the first release to feature significant parts rewritten in WPF, but I think the intent is clear. As Ray Ozzie said at November's PDC Silverlight is Microsoft's premiere UI platform, and developers are going to have to get on board with it, despite the crazy, rate of change and frequent release schedule.

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FAIL

Cross-platform

Very simple. When Silverlight is cross-platform, meaning including Linux, I might actually try it out before deciding. As long as it isn't, I will NEVER install it on any of my computers.

NEVER.

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FAIL

Pathetic?

Sounds very childish.

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They offer Symbian, they mean it

I have started to take Silverlight a bit serious since they already produced a working (although a bit demo like) plugin/API for Symbian, which is a nightmare to code for.

If Adobe doesn't accelerate Flash for S60 development and if they don't ignore Nokia pushing it only for latest devices, Silverlight may have some surprising success on devices.

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Anonymous Coward

Who cares, it just Sliverlight no one using it

That so good to know there new version of something that no one is using.

Now give me a website that are in top 100 world that is using Silverlight that isn't owned by Microsoft.

PS how do change your password at theregister?

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ugh

Looks fine, but really just a duplication of the flash platform, only predictably more closed and less polished.

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Gates Horns

Closer to JAVA than FLASH

"However, it is application development, rather than video streaming or web site decoration, which is its greatest strength."

It seems then that Silverlight is closer to the Java programming language than Adobe's Flah plug-in. However, the main issue remains; both Flash and Java are totally cross-platform, whereas Silverlight isn't.

I believe we will see no significant numers of Silverlight users, unless it becomes truly cross-platform.

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Gold badge

Re: Java

I agree that Java is the relevant comparison, since Silverlight is now starting to look like a brand name for .NET, which is just another VM-based language. However, I disagree that Silverlight will only take off when it goes truly cross-platform.

Java has offered all of these facilities in a truly cross-platform manner for over a decade now. It's open, it's available, it works, and it's used by three grey-beards and a pet goldfish. I'd say that was pretty conclusive evidence that the world isn't actually interested in a cross-platform client. The experiment has been done. It was built and they didn't come.

(Perversely, Java has really taken off on the server-side, where its USP (the security-by-design) is irrelevant.)

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Thumb Up

More Rights than Wrongs

Expression Blend really helps us to create nice and beautiful UI's in what would otherwise have been boring functional UI's.

And it's more than that, because you can prototype UI's you can play with more ideas and come up with richer and better tuned UI's.

At this moment our programmers are programming and we have designers and analysts working on the UI. I hope that the days were programmers are spending months on trying something are gone.

BTW we're making windows only desktop clients.

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Gold badge

New features...

...seem to be just a list of things I can already do with either managed or unmanaged code. So is Silverlight just a new name for .NET and the only genuinely new feature is that MS have given up on and open-source version (Mono) and asked Intel to port the closed source version to Linux?

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Erf

It's not called "Silvershite" for no reason. The main ones being: it is not an open standard (like HTML5, Canvas, or ODF for example), it is not fully cross platform (yes it runs on OS X. Like, underwhelm me why don't you), it is scratching and itch that has already been scratched by vastly superior systems (and I don't mean Flash!).

Rather than get behind exsiting solutions, MS has gone with the "Me too!" approach, arrived late to the party, tried to fragment a market and generally made a has of things. This may well help their bottom line in the short term and lock the naive customer on to their platforms for longer, but all it does is decrease portability, increase cost and reduce the overall benefit of IT to the customer and the consumer.

I have not installed Silverlight, nor do I intend to now or in the future. Any site that depends on it will simply lose me as a user. End of.

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FAIL

I'm surprised

that with such vast resources, Microsoft can't even come up with a webcam data compression codec and proper printing support?! What is the deal here? Do the different teams within MS never help each other? Smells like poor management...

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Lack of ADO Support in Silverlight

Another barrier to utilising Silverlight to replace LOB WinForms applications is its lack fo support for ADO.Net DataSet. Most software houses have invested much time and money developing middle tier data services layers utilising ADO.Net (just as Microsoft recommended), but now the 'new breed' of MS developers - the 'script kiddies' who have developed Silverlight, do not understand enterprise LOB apps so think a new paradigm is called for - hence RIA Data Services are supposed to replace ADO.Net - Not!

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Anonymous Coward

Designers may prefer Macs and flash, but I think they more prefer being paid.

The criticism that designers are Mac people is becoming less and less relevant to silverlight's success. It's a long way off being used in ad platforms or as the article says "annoying little animations". However it is clearly targetting more advanced uses of RIA such as data driven web apps, and video on demand platforms. With these kind of sites you can tell the user to go and install it.

As a result, the designers do not drive the process. The business model will decide that silverlight is the best choice of technology. That may be because it is faster to develop in, it's more stable and secure, or because Microsoft have offered them a load of free consultancy if they'll please just use their tech (I've seen all three). In any of these cases the decision is made, then the designers are asked to provide the relevant skills. If they can't do it because it would involve using a disgusting thing like a PC that doesn't have nice round edges, other designers will simply make their presence known.

Silverlight looks like it's given up trying to woo designers, instead it's going to punch them firmly in the wallet until they give in.

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COM interop?

...the ability to call native code via COM interop...

Oh goody.

No doubt the default associated security setting is: "Yes, I'd like to be p0wn3d at the first opportunity".

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Gold badge

Re: COM interop?

Don't worry. COM interop is just marketing hype. Always was. They only fully support IUnknown and IDispatch. A handful of other interfaces were hacked together to support in-process ActiveX controls, but you need to be smoking something (press releases?) to believe in a seamless join between the managed and unmanaged universes.

It's one of the reasons why .NET never caught on amongst the C/C++ crowd (unlike the VB6 crowd who weren't given a choice).

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Flame

Meh

If you wanted to print this trash in a newspaper, you'd have to put a big banner saying ' A D V E R T I S E M E N T ' across the top.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

FAIL

I don't like Silverlight

But I at at least know something about it, unlike yourself evidently. Silverlight (and I mean Silverlight, not Moonlight) runs on non-Windows platforms. Do some basic research.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

FAIL

Yawwwn- silver waste of time.

Hmmm. I would seriously discourage developers from using Silverlight in their projects for the following reasons:

1) A big chunk of browsing is now done on smart phones, most of which do not (and will never) support Silverlight.

2) Silverlight will never be truly cross platform unless Microsoft release a decent linux version. At the moment we have Moonlight (LOL) which is a pile of steaming manure. I've tried moonlight on my ubuntu laptop- what a waste of time, only 20% of Silverlight sites seem to work.

3) With IE9 in development, HTML5 is round the corner and it will be a truly cross platform standard.

4) Video - If Google open source on2's VP8 in May then HTML5 video will definitely be the future of online video.

Where would I use Silveright?

At a push I would consider it for an intranet application where I don't have to worry about cross-platform compatibility because the company has a "everybody uses windows anyway, init?" mantra.

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Silver badge

4) Video

There's no "if", Google are releasing it.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Hardly MIcrosoft's fault

Moonlight is open source, just for all those open source Linux lovers so if they get up off their high horse and actually comtribute to it as much as they contribute to Linux itself, then there wouldn't be a problem.

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Gates Horns

How about now

Yeah, that's a fucking great idea. Let's *help* Microsoft further entrench their crappy proprietary nonsense.

Not forgetting, of course, that the Moonlight crew will only really find out about new features *after* they've been released in Silverlight for Windows. Meaning they'll be always playing catch-up. And then there'll be some shiny new feature which relies on some entirely closed Windows feature which isn't documented anywhere. And then they'll cancel the OSX version for not being "used enough" and not being able to "justify the development resources". Microsoft do not play well with others. They have a very, very, very long track record of this.

Sorry, you've been smoking too much of the MS happy leaves. Please go away.

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FAIL

Er...

" and generally made a has of things"

lol...

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Thumb Up

Its cross platform enough for my purposes...

"At the recent Developer Forum in Beijing, Intel said it is bringing Silverlight to MeeGo in October, apparently using Microsoft's code rather than the open-source Moonlight project."

MeeGo effectiviely being Debian Linux means that there will be a Linux version of Silverlight

Our company does use Siverlight extensively internally ( 7 applications with between 200 and 5000 users per app running in IE and Firefox) for the simple reason our developers can create and maintain those apps significantly faster and with a better user experience than they can using Ajax. We don't use it externally because market penetration is only 60% compared to 90%+ for Flash. However we may well start rolling out Silverlight solutions to business partners soon.

I'm amazed that those here who say they haven't used it and will never use it, yet are are so knowledgeable about how poor it is. Reminds me of five year olds who won't try their vegetables because they already know they won't like them.

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FAIL

I've never tasted belladonna...

...but basic research tells me it would be a bad idea to try tasting it.

Same with Silverlight. I've never used it because basic research tells me it is a sack of crap and there are better solutions to problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Shows how basic some research can be...

Belladonna has some very useful medical uses once you know what your doing. Atropine being one very useful drug derived from it.

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Anonymous Coward

FFS

You can probably extract some useful organic compounds from dog poo. This does not necessarily make dog poo a great thing and to be used for everything, especially when there are *better* things that could be used..

I am glad we can agree on Silverlight being dog poo though.

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On top of that...

...Silverlight won't even make you trip balls!

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Much nerd rage in here

I thought the days of childish Microsoft bashing were long gone as the nerderati have switched their attentions to the Fourth Reich (Apple)?

What's all this pointless Silverlight bashing from anonymous cowards who've never used it (and who also claim to have never installed Flash. Well I suppose it won't run on your Lynx browser anyway eh?)? It does what it says on the tin, it works, people can use it to make stuff. Go and rant somewhere else!

And to think I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Java developer, too, defending it.

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Thumb Up

Agreed

Don't worry about these silly faceless keyboard warriors, they are (as usual) all talk and no action. Let them bore themselves silly with nonsense talk and the real people (ie people who actually use computers in the real world) will just continue to move on.

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