back to article Microsoft's Silverlight for mobile to muscle iPhone

The planned mobile edition of Microsoft's Silverlight media player is shaping up to be a touchy-feely alternative to Apple's iPhone. Microsoft has told The Reg that Silverlight for Mobile will now include all the features found on Silverlight for the desktop, including Deep Zoom, which lets you keep drilling and drilling into …


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  1. Doug Bostrom

    Chump up

    30 years on, is it not just a bit boring and repetitious to find ourselves being herded into yet another kleptomaniacal gambit by MS? Can't MS do --anything-- new, besides attempting to corral customers into annoying, time-stealing interlocking marketing arrangements with various gullible "partners"?

    Has anybody bothered to calculate how much of our precious lives will be sapped by our unwilling embrace of Microsoft's latest "me, too!" attempt to conscript us into enduring marketing-first technical-prowess-second dross? Really, life is too short. Wholesale reinvention is not the way to a useful communications grammar, particularly when the inventor's objectives are so abjectly pedestrian.

    Of course, as usual the trade press is exhibiting the usual curious lack of a functioning hippocampus; wide-eyed innocence all 'round, as though this were not the usual player with the usual deadly dull attempt to first effectively steal and then lease back other people's data.

    The one act pony, made new again. How sad for us all.

  2. Codge

    @ Doug Bostrum

    If others only knew how true your words of wisdom are...

    Unfortunately, they will be dismissed by the MS lovers, and probably ignored by (most of) the rest.

    Tis indeed a sorry state of affairs when a global monopoly attempts to muscle in on a growing market, to attempt to lead users down the long and winding road to shit software and crashes.

    "Network unavailable" has caused a General protection fault in module blah blah blah.....

    Fuck off Microsoft, and stick to what you do best.

    Now, what was that exactly???

  3. Daniel Bradley
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft's running out of standards love?

    So, there I was, taken aback with Microsoft's seemingly reformed ways promising "standards love" for all. I'm thinking to myself ... "maybe they'll even extend such love to their own mobile platforms"? After all SVG's been getting a great reception on mobile devices - an open standard for graphical applications, introducing the ability for developers to use a single markup for all devices?

    Alas no, the illusions are over, Microsoft's back to it's embrace and extinguish ways. Not only they're holding back their own platforms - it seems they want to take all other platforms down with them.

    It's almost reminiscent of a story I heard when:

    A long time ago, in a computer land far away, a company called Microsoft was getting jittery about the competitor web browsers around them. But, rather than follow the ancient standards of the land and let the pundits have a choice of browser, they made their own additions to the ancient standards and made everyone tow the line. After many years of this harsh work for those poor developers having to work so hard making websites work with all the broken formats, Mr Microsoft has an epiphany. Seeing how actually embracing the ancient standards may not be such a bad practice and might even help out those poor developers. Maybe they could produce a product that's actually good enough to hold its own ground.

    Hmm, deja vu ...

  4. Tom Silver badge

    Multi touch?

    Didn't they just say they didn't need no stinking fancy touch screens on Windows Mobile?

  5. PushF12
    Gates Halo

    Silverlight is being built for the iPhone

    Do you really think that Apple got that Exchange sync license and trademark suite for just cash? Microsoft doesn't operate like that.

    You're going to see a Touch-style Windows Media device soon, but a patent battle won't happen. If the new WM hardware family is stillborn (which is unlikely), then you'll see Silverlight available for the first iPhone that has video acceleration.

  6. Wibble
    Thumb Down

    WTF has Silverlight got to do with an iPhone?

    Silverlight has one feature that may be similar to an iPhone feature; zooming. But it doesn't do it with multi-touch as that's an Apple patent awarded for "innovation".

    Silverlight has far more in common with Flash and, IIRC, Flash did zooming 12 years ago.

    Of all Flash applications, about 10% useful for visualisation and 90% are inappropriate, useless, annoying or advertising crap. FlashBlock sees to the 90%. Silverlight is 0% as it's not installed.

    Why on earth would anyone want Flash or Silverlight on an iPhone? For pointless animated adverts? Or maybe for the "throw a shoe at the marketeer/journalist" game?

    Went to the Microsoft Store and did a search.

    It replied: 0 Search Results for "anything useful or innovative"


  7. James Pels

    @Doug Bostrom

    Doug, this is a stndard part of a practice commonly known as "technological advance": one company with a lower market share invents something useful; another company with a larger market share and more money takes those ideas and makes them available to the larger market.

    Think about this from a business perspective rather than the insular "Apple Good; MS Bad" approach that seems to prevail here at times... if you were losing market share to another more innovative company because they have some really neat ideas, wouldn't you try to copy them?

    Admittedly it would be nice if Redmond would come up with something of their own but, in every sector of industry, big players will always get a lot of their good ideas from small innovators. If you don't agree, take a look at how many tech startups' business model consists entirely of "have good idea - prove concept - sell / license to someone who can commercialise it".

    As an HTC / WM user (IMHO, still better for business users than iPhone, despite its shortcomings), I am glad MS is adding these features into Silverlight and I doubt I am alone.

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    JavaFX stands a better chance

    While I think the tools for JavaFX suck and the scripting language is (ahem) an acquired taste, the runtime is probably easier to work into phones than either Flash or Silverlight. JavaFX has a core profile and a desktop profile. The core profile runs over J2ME so basically if a phone supports J2ME (i.e. nearly all of them) then there is a good chance it can support JavaFX. You can also happily reuse any classes you have knocking around assuming they run on J2ME. However, the major thing missing in the core profile is nice blending effects which might be an impediment to some apps.

    Silverlight is probably stronger visually but require handsets install yet another runtime, and have the horsepower to do all the fancy blending / video stuff, and possibly risk alienating customers by dumping Java support. On top of that, while the tools are better, Silverlight != .NET. It's a very small subset with partial WPF support, limited core classes and a different intermediate language and a different runtime. This means apps must be developed from scratch which might prove to be an impediment. In its favour, at least it sounds like there is only one profile - if .xap apps developed for browsers can be moved to mobiles with minimal changes then that would be awesome.

  9. Ru

    Re: Chump up

    The inevitable failure of yet another MS toy notwithstanding, Apple cannot even be remotely described as a nice company and anything that offers an alternative to their heavily locked down and often feature-poor platform should be welcomed.

    The fact that every realistic competitor seems to have either buried their heads in the sand or are busy running around like the aforementioned appendage has been chopped off does not fill me with confidence that the smartphone market is going to rise to the new level that the iPhone has set.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Deep yawn

    This is pretty unimpressive - by splitting a picture into tiles we can load only the tiles we want? Wow. I wish I'd thought of that! What's that you say? It also makes a set of thumbnails to go with it so you can have, er... thumbnails of the image? Innovation squared, man!

  11. Chris Teague

    Now for my G1

    Sweet! Now make sure it's usable on my G1. Hopefully we'll see both flash and silverlight on the mobile platforms, but I wouldn't be too heartbroken if flash went away. At least, from this developer's standpoint, silverlight is a blast to write. Flash is not. It's got too many remnants of its beginnings as a cartoon making machine.

    For the record, I've never been a fan of M$'s tactics on a corporate scale, nor their OSes. That said, their development tools are terrific. They've made some strides into friendly territories nowadays as well.

    I really hope their next OS isn't as bad as Vista though.

  12. Mike Flugennock

    The more I read about stuff like this...

    ...the gladder I am that I own a plain old Samsung flip-up phone -- the "Shatner Model", I call it -- whose sole "app" is, basically, saving phone numbers, and which does _one_thing_ really well: place and receive _voice_telephone_calls_. That's it. It's supposed to do text messaging as well, and I've gotten a few, but I don't bother with it.

  13. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Why an iPhone alternative?

    How is silverlight on a phone an iPhone killer?

    Why after nearly two years has nobody effectively brought out a proper iPhone alternative? You can even get the interface and most of the apps on the iPod.

    I don't understand what is taking Microsoft so long. They've on version two of their multitouch tabletop computer and it is still just a research project.

    You can be critical of the iPhone as much as you like. But it is out there, better than vaporware from Microsoft.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Doug Bostrom

    ..and how many ideas/products have you ever seen that have been a completely new and alien concept? Something that didn't build on top of anything else? something so fantastic that there isn't even a comparison in the engligh language to describe it? something, that when announced, give people the same sense of awe and bevilderement that babies experience when they see the world for the first time?

    I think MS's business strategy is in stead to make spreadsheets that are easier to use... and that tie us into their product portfolio.

    Personaly I don't want completely new ways of working every few years, but I wouldn't mind something that built upon what I already know and made things faster and better.

    Wherever or not microsoft does the above is another question.

  15. Mark Broadhurst
    Thumb Down

    Silverlight and flash

    If silverlight is basiccally a whizzy version of flash for your desktop then how is it compared to the iPhone, which activly doesnt support it.

    Its not like multitouch interfaces are exclusivly iPhone only there have been several versions from several vendors over the past decade not least MS's own multitouch coffe table thingie.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why do they bother?

    It'll be complete and utter shit, just like everything else MicroShaft does. iPhone killer? Hahahahahaha that's a good one.

  17. Jim in Hayward

    Microsoft - Another take on someone elses success.

    Sorry - No Microsoft products for me. That means no Windows Mobile phone or Netbook, or laptop, etc. Microsoft - they made their bed by lying, cheating and stealing. Now they can sleep in it.

  18. Unlimited
    Dead Vulture

    Platform != Phone

    Silverlight = Development Framework / Platform

    iPhone = An actual working phone

    So, *maybe* someone *might* write a UI using the Silverlight platform ( which until recently lacked some basic UI components ), which is as good as the iPhone UI.

    To compare the Silverlight platform to the iPhone platform would be one thing. To compare it to the iPhone as a product is utterly ridiculous.

  19. quil
    Thumb Down

    Re: chump up

    Amen. Flash has been quite adept at creating Really Bad(TM) web sites for years and years now. I don't see why we need more crap to install just to browse the fecking Internet. At least with Flash I can install the client without worrying (too much) about getting stabbed in the face a few years down the line. Also, once Flash is installed I can comfortably dismiss any pages that display "missing plugin" as the worthless crap they are.

    I am getting really sick of going down this road. Again and again and again I have been dragged along with the stampede into the big, metal cage with "happy place" scrawled on the front and Josef Fritzl standing merrily by, keys in hand. After the Vista craptastoclypse I was thinking that the media, vendors and the public might wake up and start to realize that "OMG, it's a big, honking metal cage with Josef 'Run The Hell Away Right Now' Fritzl standing next to it!"

    I guess not. I'd like to think that forty to fifty more trips into the cage will be enough for people to start to catch on. Yes, I can dream.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Another 'wannabe' or 'me-too' from the king of spins

    They have been doing Windows Mobile for fxxx knows how long and still its shite and unusable, most companies, in fact, any decent company, after the first attempt , will look back and see what went wrong, and fix it, voilla, a working model, not Microsoft, crap after crap, yet they think by using lots and lots and lots of spins and bullshit, they can talk the customers into it. may be, but after using it, never again, no wonder why iPhone does so well, they give people what they want, NOT what Microsoft wants to give them, I can see Silverlight no different.

  21. Charles Manning

    Wake me up....

    when they have Songsmith for mobile. Perhapw WM customers could get fanboi about that. DeepZoom just isn't enough to get excited.

    Very, very few people but WM devices for personal use. They're really only bought by business customers.

    It is very hard to see the Deep Zoom providing enough benefit to business customers to make it worthwhile. Deep Zoom isn't enough to make people buy personal WM devices.

  22. nicholas22
    Thumb Down

    @Doug + @TheReg

    @Dou: 'nuff said! What a great summary :)

    @TheReg: When will you start being more critical (even objective) in your MS reports?

    Your reporters tear apart everything non Microsoft (be it Linux, Adobe, Oracle, etc) so isn't it about time you do the same for Microsoft?

    BUT... I just noticed you pick up the MSDN developer zone headlines (right hand side on this screen) so I guess you too are 'partners' of some sort. I'm starting to dislike The Reg and may switch to some more objective news reporting if this continues.

  23. Hedley Phillips

    Just won't be as good as the iPhone

    I have just bought an iPhone after slagging them off for an awful long time but I played with one recently and liked it and was sick of my Xda Exec running mobile 5.

    The iPhone kicks and then rubs mud in the eyes of anything M$ has or probably can bring out.

    Synching with Exchange was a pleasant experience. I didn't have to export any certs from the Exchange server and transfer them over. Just click yes to accept and off we go. So much easier.

    Everything just works, and I haven't had to reset it yet! Don't get me wrong. I still think that a lot of Apple products are over priced and underpowered, but they do look and work well.

  24. Rich


    Deep zoom eh?

    It'll be the tool of choice for mobile pr0n..

  25. Simon Martin
    Thumb Down

    El Reg bought by the dark side?

    The other day Apple got hammered by a Reg hack for improving their iPhone OS. Microdross talk about bringing to WM (a truly dreadful PoS) a couple of features that might be sort of useful and it gets billed as an iPhone beater.

    Seems a bit biased to me...

  26. Toastan Buttar
    Gates Halo

    Re: Chump up

    And how much of your precious life did you waste posting that ?

    Tick, tock.

  27. Stuart Duel
    Gates Horns

    If it is so whiz bang...

    ...then developers will demand a version for iPhone.

    Oh, the irony.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could be interesting ....

    Apple is currently dominating touch mobile and rightly so, it's a great platform but it's a closed one and this may be their undoing. Mobile makers may adopt Silverlight Mobile just so they have a way to compete. It's a poisoned chalice for sure but if Microsoft pull it off, it will be an enormous win and a great relief to the other mobile makers and any network that isn't O2. Vista has shown that Microsoft can make a real mess of things when they try but in this instance all they have to do is copy Apple. Sure it won't be as pretty or user friendly but it will be cheaper. At least to start with.

    Thumb Up

    RE: Jim in Hayward

    Ouch! Wow Jim, that really told them now didn’t it... I’m sure your protest at purchasing anything Microsoft will really affect their bottom line.


  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Toastan Buttar, @James Pels

    @Toastan Buttar: "And how much of your precious life did you waste posting that ?" I would have thought more than you did in writing yours, but then his post did have insight and a point. Unlike yours.

    @Jame Pel: "Think about this from a business perspective" Ok, what is sensible and business-like about seeing competitors come up with popular, usable technologies and then re-inventing the wheel to pass it off as their own? That approach does not constitute "technological advance" rather it reflects Microsoft's continued abuse of a monopoly position and their inability to subjugate their bigger competitors - they can't buy Apple or Adobe.

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