back to article Silverlight 3: closer to what client-side .NET should have been

Microsoft has released Silverlight 3, less than four months after unveiling the product and just nine months after finalizing Silverlight 2.0. The pace of development is remarkable, reminiscent of the browser wars in the 1990s, with Adobe System's Flash now playing the competitor role. Why the urgency? It is a fascinating …


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  1. BlueGreen

    eat this! It'll make us fat...

    ...while everyone else loses. Classic case of giving what they want to give rather than what's needed.

    1. No RIA crud. Plain simple w3c stuff and nowt else

    2. bombproof security (touched on here but not enough)

    3. No vendor proprietary tie-in. Which is exactly what this is about.

    Still reckon it's going to fail. Not sure I believe but then I can't check anything cos its one vast page of flash. Which I block. And while blocked it still eats up 4 secs of cpu time when I switch to that tab. Which is why I don't want RIA crud on my pooter or browser.

    BOHICA - and again.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    But why?

    Is the Linux version being developed separately? Microsoft port to Unix (Mac) so why can't they port to Linux. Hell Adobe can do it with Flash and Acrobat Reader so why can't MS? Or are Microsoft saying that they can't code for Linux, or is it, and this is more likely, that Balmer has such a pathological hatred of Linux that he wont let MS code their own version for Linux and so he can brag about how backwards and retarded Linux is?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Enough proprietary rubbish already

    Competition against Adobe is a bad excuse for pushing another proprietary technology. MS would be all W3C compliant had they only been half serious about their claimed commitment to open standards.

  4. Big-nosed Pengie
    Gates Horns

    I'll try it...

    ...when they release it under GPL3.

  5. Paul 135

    all companies at the forefront of web tech break standards - its called "innovation"

    @Anonymous Coward - so are you going to complain about Mozilla/Google/Apple when they implement HTML 5 functions into their browsers, even though HTML 5 has not yet been standardised?

  6. Tim Anderson

    Microsoft, Moonlight and Linux

    Microsoft doesn't care about Linux, but want to tick the box. That said, the Mono guys are working hard on this.


  7. Michael 28

    hold on... ads are currently flash.... if they switched to silverlight, i couldn't see them...


  8. Muckminded
    Thumb Up

    Sounds like..

    another hurry and catch up, then let it languish, then see if anyone notices, then update it enough to appear modern. Oh hey, IE, I was just talking about you.

  9. Tom 7 Silver badge

    What client side

    JavaScript and HTML would have been if MS and Adobe ( and now Apple) hadn't got involved in the standardisation process'.

    When I say standardisation process I mean opportunity for proprietary interests to debilitate while they develop 'alternatives'.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft messed this up

    I'm a .NET developer and after years on a Java platform I can honestly say that .net is a fabulous platform to program on. I wouldn't want to use anything else for complex business applications.

    That said, Microsoft is a company torn on it's priorities. On one side you have significant innovation, great tools design and forward thinking initiatives, such as the current move to open source. On the other you have this inability to move from their core product - Windows.

    When Silverlight was first announced it was suppposed to be cross platform but now Linux dev work is being done on behalf on the Mono project, which is not officially supported and which is basically trying to reverse engineer .net, not an easy task to keep up with the number of developers that Microsoft has.

    Microsoft should define a proper Linux strategy and assign resources to it or give up the pretence of cross platform.

    I really wish it was another company behind .NET and I hope they don't end up limiting my dev career.

  11. Francis Fish

    I *just* don't want to use Visual Studio

    It eats your machine and installs SQL server without asking.

    I don't want it - even if I weren't a Linux fanboi I wouldn't use it.

  12. Jimbo 7


    "Microsoft should define a proper Linux strategy and assign resources to it or give up the pretence of cross platform."

    I would agree in general, but let's be honest. They target 97% of the market. Personally I would rather like to see stronger support for all mobile devices which is currently missing or better say still in development.

    At the same time, who really needs Silverlight and Flash? If all browsers would support OGG in HTML5 like FF 3.5 then the usage would drop quite a lot.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Java FX

    Java FX is the future in this space. Just you wait and see :o)

  14. Dave 129

    Installed base

    I bet that 50% increase in installed base is because of automatic updates via Windows Update, rather than willful installation of the plugin. If I recall correctly, the SilverLIght "update" is pre-selected for installation as part of the never-ending patching process.

    The cynic in me says it will be pretty easy for MS to get "installed base" up above 80% simply by making SilverLight a required update; much like they are now doing with IE8 (forced update).

  15. steve0000

    How in the hell is this "cross-platform"?

    It barely works at all on Macs, doesn't work at all on Linux -- is "vista and xp" now considered cross-platform on el reg?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo


    What I find is odd, is that most of the people that complain about Microsoft not making a version of their software for a niche product and the same people that complain when Governments start catering to a minority (rich people, 'concerned parents', etc.). So what makes your argument better than all the special interest groups?

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Kevin Bailey

    XUL will rule

    'The other Silverlight role is as a development platform for Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). You define a user interface in XAML, Microsoft's declarative language, and write code-behind in C# or other .NET languages. Silverlight applications can also interact with the browser DOM.'

    This is about five years behind the Mozilla Application Framework - and this will run on virtually all OS's.

    And the MAF is open, standards compliant and most importantly of all - free!

    Like most devs - we've switched to completely web based solutions - that way we don't get called into the problems users have with their PC's. I.e. - Can you access Google?

    Yes - log in the application.

    No - talk to your PFY.

    But if we need to have a really rich client we'd look to using XUL- if it's good enough to write FF and Thunderbird then it's good enough for us. Also, the primary language is Javascript.

    It can even be used to deliver a really rich client interface (buttons, sidebars etc etc) via a Gecko-based browser provided it doesn't need to deal with the underlying file system etc. You can even sign it to allow that if you want.

    I'm like a lot of dev's - heard of MAF - but not sure about it. After getting a couple of books and reading up I can say that this mature tech is going to be a big deal.

  19. Bod

    vs Flash

    As a .NET developer I can fully appreciate developing for Silverlight over Flash. Actionscript in Flash is pretty nasty.

    I think the next step though is to take on AIR properly though.

  20. Unlimited
    Gates Horns

    RE: Why the urgency?

    Because the sooner they get Silvershite accepted and running everywhere, the sooner they can drop all support for installed versions of Office and get everyone to subscribe to their online Office product. No longer will you be able to buy version X and choose not to upgrade. You will have to keep paying every year or they cut you off.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @Paul 135

    I agree with this. MS was actually right (shock, horrors) to not care about ACID3 as it's not based on an agreed standard. I guess they learnt from the IE6 lesson of basing something on half-baked, non-standardised definitions.

    Mozilla is really losing it's way, FF3.5 can't even pass ACID2. Pathetic!

  22. Neil Stansbury


    "Silverlight is shaping up to be what client-side .NET should have been from the beginning"

    Quite agree, and SketchFlow is looking like one of the most innovative things to leave MS in a very long time.

    I just Wish Mozilla would take their browser plugin seriously

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I will take silverlight seriously when i get prompted to install it by a web site

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Logo looks like a pair of undies to me...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    insert free advert for MICROS~1

    heee :)

  26. Anonymous Coward


    Coders on Silverlight? 100's

    Coders on IE implementation of SVG? 0's.

    Possible benifit of Silverlight? Money

    Possible benifit of using standards? None.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    30 per cent

    "30 per cent installed base"

    Who on earth would write for Silverlight with such a small installed base unless they were being paid by micros~1? This is a non-starter.

  28. Kevin Bailey

    A monolithic system which is always going to have problems

    'Moonlight 2.0, the first version with .NET support, is still in preview.'

    'First, it is a media client for Microsoft's IIS Media Services'

    'The tools for Silverlight are Visual Studio for coding'

    'The current add-in for Visual Studio 2008 has no visual designer. Visual Studio 2010 has proper support, but is currently in beta'

    'export the revised project as a Word document'

    'Tool support is not quite there, but once Blend 3.0 and Visual Studio 2010 are available, the company will have a great...'

    'Despite these reservations, Silverlight is shaping up to be what client-side .NET should have been from the beginning: lightweight, high-performance, cross-platform...'

    So it only runs on certain browsers - and all dev/deployment is MS only. 'Cross platform' sounds a bit hollow to me.

    Bear in mind, that in the next couple of years there's likely to be millions of non-MS client devices (I think Google OS will gain good traction) I would say it would be very dodgy to base long term projects on this stack.

    'The pace of development is remarkable'

    Well it would be if this was anything close to a finished product...

    'promising to end problems with blurry text, though it falls short of the elegant Text Layout framework in Flash 10'

    'Although .NET RIA Services provide valuable features, they are currently a Community Technology Preview, and Microsoft warns of significant changes to come, so they are currently aimed at brave or experimental developers.'

    I worked extensively with .NET and it could have been good if they'd kept at the cross-platform track. I.e. Deployable on other web servers, code could be written with any text browser and not reliant on VS, removed the obsession with compiling components and .DLL's, portable between servers, backward compatible so that your didn't need to have .NET 1.1, 2.0, 3.5 installed at the same time, truly cross-browser (page repositioning only worked in IE)

    This was another reason the Clinton's plan to split up MS (a la Baby Bells) would have been good for MS and could have produced good technology. As it is they still tie everything together so it's an all or nothing approach. No clearly defined protocols or boundaries produces a monolothic system which can lead to all sorts of unfixable problems.

    Small tools, small tools!

  29. Dave Murray
    Thumb Down


    "while access to local devices such as ... bar code readers"

    So it doesn't take input from the keyboard???

    The vast majority (if not all) barcode readers these days are keyboard wedge. If a keyboard works then the reader will too.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Here we go...

    @Paul 135; 'all companies at the forefront of web tech break standards - its called "innovation"'

    No. Innovation doesn't break with standards, or even disregard them. Innovation improves them or defines them. Take the wheel. The standard is a natural circle. Would it be innovative to make a square one? The point is that Microsoft have not innovated anything here. Redmond have photocopied the blueprints for Flash, added some of the cool bits from JavaFX, and wrapped it up with the semantics of .Net, in short - it's been done before better. The only reason it will look like a success is that Microsoft will undoubtedly foist the software onto unsuspecting users via updates. Googles rather impressive Wave is entirely built using HTML5 with their Web Tool Kit. That is innovation.

    @AC 08:32 GMT ; Really!? Are you absolutely sure of any of that? FF 3.5 cannot pass the Acid2? Are you completely sure of that? Acid3 isn't based on an 'agreed standard'? Funny how Microsoft don't recognise standards unless they serve a purpose for them or they really have to! The rest of the community recognise the Acid3 test (and for that matter, Acid2) for what it is - an excellent bench mark that illustrates a browsers ability to render standards compliant web pages. Microsoft only managed to pass Acid2 with IE 8. What, though, has any of this got to with Silverlight? As some have already pointed out - another pointless proprietary format that we don't need which will require support because some idiot will code their intranet with it. Ta, but no ta.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    @Simon Banyard

    Yes, I am sure of that. 100% sure of it. How can I be so sure...because I tested it a week or so ago when I upgraded (the eyes of the smiley face do not show, you just get red crap).

    So rather than attacking the messenger, why no go and do your own research, hmm?

    I am not disagreeing that Silverlight is pointless, but there is little sense in berating MS for not following standards when the likes Mozilla is also not following standards! Passing ACID3 means diddly, it is testing for things that were actually removed from the CSS2 standard FFS!

  32. CD001



    What I find is odd, is that most of the people that complain about Microsoft not making a version of their software for a niche product...


    Since Silverlight ties in with functionality on IIS servers it's already being created for a niche product - Win/IIS is NOT dominant in the web-server sphere; despite having made some serious inroads against the incumbent LAMP stack in the past couple of years it's still playing second fiddle to Apache.

    If websites don't implement Silverlight, what's the point of the browser plug-in?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Logo @AC 11:11 GMT

    Agree – it could indeed be a pair of undies – or a construction made from panty liners. At least that bit of Silverlight looks like it has wings.

    Paris? No, on second thoughts....

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Funny that...

    ...because I tested FF 3.5 at on Windows, Ubuntu and OS X about 2 hours ago and it passed on ALL platforms. MSIE 8 also passed Acid2. FF 3.5 scored 93% on Acid3, eher as MSIE 8 scored 20%. Still, keep up the astroturfing...

    From WaSP's site on Acid 2 "If you’re unfamiliar with the Acid 2 Test, it is essentially a test for browser vendors to use as a means to gauge their standards compliance." and "Acid2 is a test page, written to help browser vendors ensure proper support for web standards in their products." Pretty much what I said.

    From WaSP's site on Acid3 "Acid3 is the third in a series of test pages written to help browser vendors ensure proper support for web standards in their products." Again, pretty much what I said, which to remind you was " excellent bench mark that illustrates a browsers ability to render standards compliant web pages."

    Funny how passing Acid3 means diddly when Microsoft fail, but Acid2 is valid because MSIE passes. I'm not "attacking" anyone, just pointing out the absolute bollocks that you wrote. I'm not attacking Microsoft either - just pointing out that fanboys like you continually move goal posts in order to prove that their "beloved <!-- insert product here -->" is teh bestest. I bet when MSIE starts to score highly on Acid3 you'll be telling the world how relevant it is, and that the Acid4 test is pointless. On the other hand I am attacking Silverlight because it gives nothing over what already exists, and with the HTML5 and CSS3 specs around the corner (I know of plenty of dev's that are starting to cod in HTML5 already) it is totally pointless.

  35. mrmr

    @AC@Simon Banyard

    You're 100% wrong, the 'red crap' where the eyes are just means javascript is blocked. Do your research again, without noscript.

  36. Iggle Piggle


    Silverlight does not require IIS behind it to work.

    Let me qualify that a little though. If you are going to use Silverlight to stream media then you will need a server capable of streaming media in the format supported by the plug-in and if you are going to use the new .Net RIA services then you will need IIS but you really do not need a WIN/IIS configuration to host a XAML application. All you need to do is specify a new MIME type and place your application on the server and include a tag in your page and you are up and running.

    I have my doubts about the necessity for Silverlight just as I cringe when I reach yet another web site that uses Flash with no HTML alternative. For a while I had wondered if Microsoft were only making money from the sale of the development tools. However I guess some people will insist on streaming Micrsoft format media and others will want to use .Net RIA Services and then that will mean using a Microsoft server.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @mrmr and @Simon Banyard

    [In no particular order]

    I am not defending MS like you seem to think, merely pointing out that ACID3 does not test standards (something everyone else was banging on about), merely proposals. Passing that means jack at the moment. Do you even know that 100/100 does not indicate an ACID3 pass? There's more you need to check.

    I'll accept the relevancy of ACID3 when the standards are set, until then I shall ignore it. Even when the standards are set, the test will need to be updated for whatever is included/excluded.

    FF3.5 failed ACID2 in my tests (javascript was not blocked, you get more than just the eyes missing if you try it like that). I tested with IE8 on the same PC and it passed. A quick Google (done today) reveals that, yes indeed, FF3.5 was "failing" ACID2 about a week ago.

    As you seem to know so damned much about "teh interwebs" (even if you can't understand the difference between "proposal" and "standard") I'll leave it to your mighty minds to suss out what the problem was and why IE8 might work and FF might fail.

    It always amuses me that when you do not genuflect with open abandon at the feet of the penguin, you are accused of being an MS fanboy. The mind boggles.

    [Written using FF 3.0.11 running on Ubuntu 9.04]

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Acid 2 and FF 3.5

    I find it seems to pass acid 2 but not acid 3 -- Linux version.

  39. tom 24

    and Eventually Linux

    "Eventually." This sums up Microsoft's open-source strategy nicely, as well as perfectly describing their "Core API Documentation Strategy", and their "third party application compatibility strategy", and their "EC compliance Strategy".

  40. J 3


    I acquired deep dislike for Silverlight during the last Olympics.

    I wanted to watch videos on the official site here in the US, and the idiots were using this thing. Which did not work on my computers, which all run Linux. Even if there is a reason for Silverlight in addition to whatever we already have (that already works on most platforms, AFAIK), showing video is definitely not one of them. Therefore, I can only conclude that said official site was getting bribery money from Microsoft to use Silverlight (which was basically completely new at the time and not present in any significant quantity of computers).

  41. S 10
    Thumb Down

    Don't think so...

    Interesting, but I think it's a big mistake to assume that MS based web outfits are going to happily push MS tech to their users. I wouldn't.

  42. Law
    Black Helicopters

    RE: Argh...

    Or it's not a conspiracy (I know freetards love a good monopoly conspiracy though) - maybe the team/company that was tasked with doing the website specialised in microsoft technology, and quite naturally used the latest tools at their disposal for one of the highest priority sites they've been given to do... surely not!

    Instead of complaining about microsoft making silverlight available for developers who use their software, complain to the olympic commitee who paid for the site and chose the software house.

    Not all programmers are taking kickbacks to use microsoft technology - I use it at work because it's faster than java, and free (I use sharpdevelop - which is tiny footprint and a damn fine IDE for free!!). These days all of my applications are able to be run using Mono - so it's also cross platform, another reason I don't need to worry about being forced back to Java...

    Disclaimer: I have a Vista vmware image for work - running on top of OSX. Except for at work - I don't touch Windows.

  43. Alan Bourke


    WRT dev tools, there's always MonoDevelop ...

  44. windywoo

    Silverlight barely runs on Macs?

    I watched an HD streaming movie on my 2006 Macbook in Silverlight and it was great, no stutters, no glitches. Best of all it is hardware accelerated, meaning the fans don't spin up to compensate for the CPU load as they would on Flash content.

    Silverlight may be criticised for not being cross platform, but Flash just barely meets that standard considering how bad the plugins for OSes other than Windows are.

  45. brudinie

    @alan bourke - Cross-platformness

    Mono Develop is not a viable Silverlight development IDE.

    Although Microsoft have submitted C# to the ECMA, they haven't opened up the dot net framework.

    There are no guarantees that Microsoft wont raise a patent issue over Mono in the future.

    The current Novell-Microsoft Stalin/Hilter-esque pact will expire in the near future and what then?

    Again, Silverlight is not a decent cross-platform web technology.

    It is an RIA technology with vendor tie in written all over it.

    Please wake up.

  46. brudinie

    @windywoo - flash barely cross platform

    windywoo, I'm not a big flash fan myself.

    However, I use Ubuntu 64 with the latest 64bit Flash plugin and it runs like a dream.

    Its way faster and smoother than Flash on my windows PC.

    The Firefox Moonlight extension from Novell on the other-hand is absolute poo.

    I tried to use it to watch some ITV shows via ITVplayer- FAIL!

    Silverlight may be criticised for not being cross platform and quite rightly so!

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