Why Silverlight Should Fail

Silverlight has been quite the buzz around the internet lately. Microsoft’s new product explicitly takes aim at Flash as they try to take on the rich media arena. Up to this point, Flash has basically stood alone at the top as the rich media standard for the browser. I will explain why, from my point of view, I do not see Silverlight changing that reality any time in the near (or far) future.

Flash Player’s 95.9% (And Growing) Penetration

Make no mistake, this Flash/Silverlight feud is no comparison to Netscape/Internet Explorer. Netscape was the most popular browser before IE took over, but the user-base on the internet was far lower than it is now. The wild-west environment made it much easier for Microsoft to take the browser market – that is going to be much more challenging with a more stable software suite, and solid standing behind the Flash Player plugin.

When I say solid, I mean 95.9% of all internet users and 98.7% of users in mature markets. On top of it, the new versions of Flash Player are being adopted at an increasing rate. The speed at which Flash Player 9 has been adopted is absolutely mind-numbing… And Flash Player 10’s adoption should be even faster.


Few would argue that the FLV has become the de facto standard for video on the web. Adobe knows this as well and is pushing to make it a player off the web as well. Flash Video turned Flash into a mechanism for delivering media with far more potential than any other solution. Once video was added to the picture, the validity of the SWF took a much greater hold. Silverlight will (naturally) be using the WMV and I have no doubt that Silverlight will add to the use of the WMV file format. The problem is, from my perspective, is that using the WMV video format essentially makes Silverlight useless for the vast majority of video websites such as YouTube. Sure, online video sites could encode their videos as WMV as well, but why?

Flex 3 and Tamarin

The largest (and most valid) gripe that many standards-centric web developers had about Flash was that it was built on proprietary pieces of software. Well, that is no longer the case with Flex 3 turning open source and a couple interesting projects moving Flash Player towards open source as well. Adobe’s movement towards open-sourcing pieces of the Flash suite has nothing to do with their love for the free, open software and everything to do with solidifying their presence within the web development community. Flex 3 is a very large olive branch to what was a very hostile segment of the development community. This gives many in the web development community just one less reason to choose a Microsoft product.

I think it is very safe to say that Microsoft will never open source any of their products related to Silverlight. I know how much the standards community has disliked Flash in the past, but it is time to stop.

LiveMotion Anyone?

Remember the last Flash competitor? Enough said.

Web Developers/Designers Are Through With Microsoft

If Internet Explorer 6 began the web developer/designer hate-fest towards Microsoft products, Internet Explorer 7 sealed the deal. Microsoft has shown time and time again that they care less about improving their product for front-end developers and designers. This is clear from their lack of improvement on standards-compliant HTML/CSS rendering. Designers and developers on the web would be fools to go down that road again – especially when Silverlight (unlike IE6) is not going to have a large initial user base. We were forced to support IE6, but this time we have a choice to not support Silverlight.

The past mistakes from Microsoft have left the web community feeling burned and frustrated. Those very web developers and designers became extremely vocal online which led to…

Web Users Are Beginning To Agree With Web Developers/Designers

The general public is beginning to show they prefer non-Microsoft browsers as well. From my perspective, I think this sentiment will carry over to Silverlight. Microsoft is dealing with an uphill battle in user-trust – something that Internet Explorer 7 could have helped mend if it would not have been such a failure. From a user’s perspective, why would you be willing to trust a Microsoft browser plugin when their last two browsers were so horrible?

One of Silverlight’s Most Distinguishing Factors Is a Sinking Ship

Silverlight’s use of the WMV video format will allow support for DRM (Digital Rights Management). While DRM may be looked upon very favorably in corporate board meetings, the general public detests it. There is no doubt that corporate media providers are foaming at the mouth for such technology – Netflix has already showcased such a Silverlight-powered video player with DRM. That being said, you can candy coat a bad idea all you want, but it will continue to be a bad idea. Apple has finally understood DRM is not in its best interest and seem to be attempting a slow move away from it. If Microsoft is hanging their hopes on DRM to push the success of Silverlight, I think they are going to be in for a very rude awakening.

Microsoft Just Does Not Get Media… Adobe Does

Microsoft still has a lot to learn about media in general compared to other software companies in the market. Windows has never had a solid native media player which, from my view, says quite a lot. Silverlight will no doubt have some great features, but I feel that, along with many other Microsoft products, the polish will not be there. If anything, Flash has become very refined through its new versions – I have a hard time believing Silverlight will even begin to compete in that regard for the first few years.

All That Being Said…

We are talking about Microsoft here. The amount of resources and PR they will be able to throw at this sort of project will make Adobe look like some fly-in-the-night business. The DRM capabilities of Silverlight are bound to get some media companies excited in the short-term and create plenty of buzz. Even with the recent disasters of the Zune and Vista, I guess with that sort of money, no one can count Microsoft out.

Update: Due to the discussion generated, I wrote a continuation of this topic that goes into more detail on my opinion.

69 thoughts on “Why Silverlight Should Fail”

  1. Vista hasn’t been a ‘disaster’ at all, but anyways…

    On a completely unrelated topic,

    I think your comment love scheme is offensive:
    a patronizing, egocentric exploitation of charitable ideals

    50 bucks max/pm, you’re really putting yourself out of pocket with that extravagance.

    Give your money without boasting about it all over your site, and patronizing all your visitors. And don’t be so stingy.

  2. P.J. — this was a great post, you really nailed some points for sure. Agreeing with you, I think a powerhouse such as Microsoft is really going to put everything they can behind this product. What will tell the final tale, I think, is whether or not Silverlight can stand apart from Flash in some significant way. Microsoft has had lots of time to watch Flash mature and become more accepted by the average user. They’ve been able to see what has worked and what has failed. I can only assume that Microsoft will do something, well, Microsoft-y and make a wrong move at some point. It will be much easier for people to abandon something like Silverlight than it is for them to abandon some of the software they’re using every day.

  3. Interesting discussion. I don’t think the penetration issue will be a huge problem for Silverlight. Vista will ship with it I assume, and I’m guessing it’ll be bundled with IE7, so it will easily achieve reasonable popularity through brute force.

    The Netflix point is interesting. I’m not a huge fan of DRM, but I do recognise that people will steal content. But, for movie rentals, there has to be DRM. There’s no possible way to have digital movie rentals without DRM that I can conceive. Digital sales are a different issue, but rentals cannot exist without DRM, or else it’s like renting a movie you don’t have to ever give back.

    Also, in other Silverlight news, Moonlight has just been announced by the Mono project, which is a fully functioning version of Silverlight for Linux.

  4. “LiveMotion Anyone?

    Remember the last Flash competitor? Enough said.”

    Adobe couldn’t beat Macromedia so they bought them. πŸ˜‰

    Microsoft’s last attempt at competing with Flash was called Liquid Motion. I blogged about that a few months back – http://www.brandonellis.org/?p=35

    I will say the one place that I think Silverlight *could* do better is in a controlled environment such as an intranet. Basically a dictatorship that tells employees “this is our software and you will use it.”. Having an environment where you know that everyone has the the plugin, everyone has the .net framework and everyone has a Windows box, you could do some badass stuff with silverlight with all the hooks into the system and the .net framework. The intranet scenario is just about the only place I see that happening though.

    Something else to keep in mind – I didn’t realize this but while lots of folks have been speculating that MS could force users to install the plugin, there has been a lot of talk that that would break certain agreements pertaining to MS being a monopoly. So the brute force approach is fairly unlikely. I hope.

  5. No, this is wrong, sorry. Please check out the Expression Studio and the XAML Language, download the BETA Preview release of Blend 2.0 (1.1). I learned Flash, and was waiting for something developer-friendly to take the place of it. here it is: http://www.silverlight.net microsoft.com/silverlight Quite an amazing language c# is over the traditional JScripting. and XAML… please do experiment with it. Video is so irrelevant to me, but to let you know: Silverlight can stream HD Video in 720p format. Goodbye Cable companies!

  6. Wow, great comments – thanks so much.

    Freddie – That’s fine if Adobe is adding DRM capabilities to the FLV – I obviously disagree with that, but my point is that to use DRM as a major differentiation from the competitor is betting on the wrong horse.

    Jon – What you say makes perfect sense, the problem is Microsoft rarely seems to actually do that successfully. Look at the Zune – they had the perfect model to follow with the iPod and no one is even remotely thinking of picking up a Zune.

    Kevin – I definitely agree with you about rental companies offering movies with DRM, that would work out very well. Nice idea.

    Brandon – Let’s also not forget the Flash/Flex is what all the developers use for RIA’s (let’s leave AJAX aside in this argument). You have a very established and prolific developer community that will be hesitant at best to move to a company that has not been to friendly to them in the past. I really think the developer’s willingness (or lack thereof) to use this as a platform will be a huge factor in Silverlight’s success.

    Torrance – Believe me, I tried downloading the Beta. The last time I tried, they didn’t offer it for Mac users… Very telling from my point of view.

  7. @somerandomdude –
    Agreed. That has been my question from the start – What incentive is there to cross over? The intranet situation is the only time I could see it having advantages and that was more of a “Devil’s Advocate” position than anything else.

    Look at it this way:
    Think about all the developers in the Adobe camp. Lets say Silverlight comes out of beta and goes gold. Now lets pretend that one of every two new developers goes to Silverlight. That would still put MS in such a far far distant second place that I cannot think it will ever retain a developer community like we have currently with Adobe.

  8. Brandon – I think the intranet idea is quite intriguing – very good point.

    I really do agree with you about developer adoption. The creative community, 1) has a great product suite with Flash/Flex, and 2) does not seem to be getting anything particularly new with Silverlight.

    I welcome competition, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think Silverlight will compete for the majority of use cases.

  9. If you haven’t used C#/Visual Studio, I’m not sure you can claim outright that “Web Developers/Designers Are Through With Microsoft”. Designers are all happy using their Macs, but many people who have actually done development with Visual Studio will tell you that its a very nice tool that can make your life quite a bit easier. I’ve yet to hear anyone say that the Flash/Flex development UI is intuitive and fun to use.

  10. @Dave G – I for one,used VS for six years (99 – 2005), and think it was a horrible and frustrating tool. Heck, even the MS folks made a big deal of how bad it was before VS 2005. It had too much internal baggage to carry around and tried to be too helpful. It gave ASP.net a bad name because so many of the limitations of vs.net were conveyed as limitations of the framework. While the the Flash IDE is not friendly to writing ActionScript, there are tools that are awesome.

    For .net development I use SharpDevelop – a free VS.net clone written in C# but with a feature set much more targeted towards developers. For ActionScript you could use either FlashDevelop (same code base as SharpDevelop) or Sepy. For Flex you can use either Eclipse with the Flexbuilder plugin or the Flexbuilder IDE built on Eclipse.

    I’ve played with the newer versions of VS and I have to say, if I never had to use VS again, that would be fine with me.

  11. Dave G – I was definitely vague in my definition of web developers in the article as I meant front-end developers (i.e. Flash, HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc.). I have heard many back-end developers speak quite nicely of Microsoft technologies and development tools – not so much from front-end developers. I think AS3 and Flex is much more geared towards the software engineer crowd and less the often hybrid dev/design role of front-end developers. That being said, I think that hybrid individual is a huge segment of the rich media crowd. Microsoft is going to have to woo many front-end developers away from very proven and popular technologies in order to start making Silverlight apps.

    Brandon – I have really come to enjoy Flex and I see myself moving towards it more with each project. The Eclipse foundation is a huge asset, in my opinion.

  12. They don’t offer Silverlight for the Mac because, regardless of how much they huff and puff, the reality is Mac users are third-class citizens on the web. To drive that home even further, this was until recently very much the case with the Mac version of flash player. Performance was (and still is) absolutely terrible on that platform.

  13. Adam – An extremely large segment of the creative sector, if not the majority, use Macs. If Microsoft wants things built for Silverlight, they better offer the tools to the designer’s platform of choice.

    Every new media design firm I have worked at is primarily on the Mac. By offering their software suite onlt to Windows users, they are essentially giving many designers/design-technologists the ultimate reason to continue using Flash.

  14. I agree with some of the points in the article. I visited the Silverlight gallery a month ago and posted a short article on my blog about the experience.

    Let’s admit it. Silverlight has many promising features that will benefit back-end developers as well as search engines. It won’t be easy to penetrate a rich media market in which Flash already has about 96% of the share. However, the desktop market is still owned by MS (as well as the browser market). Like what Brandon Ellis stated in his comment, a (optional) Windows update is a potential market penetration tool.

    Ultimately, it think this will depend on corporate backing and “end-user bashing”, just like in the ongoing Blu-ray vs. HD DVD battle. Will Silverlight win? I don’t think so, at least not for the Web. But maybe, just maybe… if Silverlight is embraced by the online porn industry, we might see a niche.

  15. Silver what? Huh? Sadly Microsoft’s new programs are hardly a blip on my radar. I barely cared about Vista for 5 minutes. And that was only for work!

    Oh and for the lady who was the first comment. LIGHTEN UP. Charity is charity. I really don’t think you know PJ too well. His goal is not to boast.

    Besides. U commented. You donated. Sorta contradicting isn’t it?

  16. I agree with Yooch. I don’t see myself ditching Adobe for MS anytime soon. I work as a designer/developer at a small design company which does a lot of flash dev, and we are all Apple. We have one PC for testing purposes. So, as stated earlier, if MS would like their tools to be used they should make them available to the developers that would be using them.

    And yes Paula, you need to relax. Read this: http://www.somerandomdude.net/about-love/ . As for being stingy… this is $50 a month, which is $600 a year. So over 5 years he will have donated $3000 to charity from his blog alone. You have no idea if he donates to additional charities. Personally I think it’s quite honorable and good marketing.

    PS I also find that I am really starting to dislike all the current MS languages (and I have used most). So this would really make me hesitant to switch to a platform that would require coding.

  17. Yooch & Gianni – I definitely agree with your lack-of-MS interest. It makes it a lot easier not to care when Adobe offers such a great product (which will soon be free).

    Also, about the whole Comment Love remarks… I wanted to just ignore those statements because she is more than free to have any opinion she would like on the subject. The last thing I want is to make the whole Comment Love feature a divisive topic as it was intended to do quite the opposite. Up to this point, I have recieved nothing but positive feedback on it – I apologize if the idea does not jive with you Paula.

  18. @Adam – the Silverlight runtime works just fine on Macs… at MIX the Netflix demo had one movie on a PC and the other on a Mac. I’ve used my MacbookPro (running OSX not bootcamp!) to look at a bunch of the samples and found total parity.

    It’s true that the Visual Studio and Expression tools don’t work on the Mac and I can live with that. There are XAML export capabilities in things like Illustrator already and that’s only going to improve as WFP and Silverlight grow in relevance for “all” designers. In the last decade I’ve been working with design agencies I’ve yet to come across a pure OSX shop… there may be a preponderance of OSX in the pure design shops targeting print or just living inside the Adobe (and formerly Macromedia) ecosystems but a lot of the Flash developers I know switched to PCs years ago… and if you’re working with developers building complex back-end systems to support the flash bling what are they using (and do the benefits of being able to work in an Expression/VS world outweight any, frankly irrelevant, OS preference)?

    There’s a lot of scared Adobe folks hoping Silverlight will fail (and a lot of Sun folks as well who probably haven’t realised that Java is well on the road to dead!) but both platforms have their relevance today and probably will still have in 5 years time… it’s just that by then as many people will be running a platform that supports Silverlight as support Flash.

    In the last few months I’ve spoken to a few Flash developers who were initially scared that Silverlight was going to be a threat or hard to get to grips with… most of them have admitted that the process wasn’t as painful as they thought it would be (even the one who had to run up Vista under Parallels to play with Expression)

    IMO Flash hasn’t had a push to evolve for too long now and another player in the space can only be good… at the end of the day just like OSX and Windows keep leapfrogging and pushing each other to be better this can only turn out for the best.

    Oh, and in terms of quality… give me Windows Media (Silvelight streaming 720p) over Flash video for quality over comperable bandwidth any day!

  19. OffBeatMammal – I definitely agree with the notion that Silverlight is going to bump up competition – Flex 3 being open source is a perfect example of that. I’m just a little concerned of who the competitor is as they have a reputation of trying to squash out everyone else.

    Still, I think it’s still quite possible that the two will co-exist and hopefully up the ante for rich media on the web.

  20. Silverlight isn’t merely targeting flash. It’s also a replacement for WinForms apps as well as AJAX. To think of Silverlight as a new product is to miss the forest for a tree. Silverlight is a (slight) paradigm shift.

  21. Stupid post by another Flash fanboy, sigh…
    1. Flash Player’s 95.9% (And Growing) Penetration – Automatic Update anyone? In less than a year, 100% of installed Windows OSs will have SL pluginup and running πŸ™‚

    2. Flex 3 and Tamarin – building a framework on top of such a crap language like ActionScrip is plain stupid.

    3. Web Developers – where are you’ve been recently? There are millions .NET developers who will be able to use their existing skills to produce SL. On the other hand, there are few Flex enthusiasts. πŸ™‚

    4. non-MS browsers? Omg, even one of my Linux themed sites shows 88% IE visits/mo. Actually, FF becomes a bloated crap (sadly) and the slower browser around. It needs a serous rewrite or the game will over for FF.

  22. Millions of .net developers is right. Think business. Think Intranet. Think with your brain and not your bias. The ability to transfer SQL, .net, VB.net, C# skills to the Expression Suite (blend/design/web/media/encoder) is awesome. I’ve used Macromedia software for years, Adobe software for years, and Microsoft software for years.

    The Expression Blend interface is amazing to use, and if you haven’t tried Expression Design you should, and again check your bias at the door.

    Microsoft does NOT need to Get MEDIA!
    Microsoft does NOT need to Get The WEB!
    They just need to understand the people that do, provide the platform and tools they need/desire.

  23. Hi there,

    As a Flash developer since the late 1990’s, and using Adobe products such as Premiere and Cool Edit Pro (before Adobe bought them). To me Adobe doesn’t make sense. I got into Silverlight and totally dig it. Not saying one is better than the other, I think it just comes down to personal preference in development. Kind of how I like Steak and my wife likes fish. Nothing is wrong.

    I’m not a big fan of DRM but I DO love the wmv quality, from my HD source images I get a better looking picture for a smaller file size (which is great when everything is video based)

    I am not worried about user penetration, because that will come with time, especially with Windows Update now showing it as an optional download. PLUS, once installed updating is automatic.

    To me, when I want something to talk to the hardware and pushing the limits of the computer, I’d rather use a tool that was written by the company that writes the operating system. I can’t wait til Silverlight has DirectX support for 3D web presentations.

    On a Vista note, yeah it’s slow and no one likes to change, but I heard all that before, twice. First from 95 to win98 (wait til service pack 2 comes out), then again with XP (wait til service pack 2 comes out). It’s very funny to hear it repeating like a broken record.

    Although, I didn’t upgrade when Windows Me came out, it didn’t make sense to me. Crash and Burn.

    The fact of the matter is that developing software is getting easier with the silverlight XAML/WPF and it means that once you get a grip on web with this line of development, you’ll be able to move to writing desktop applications, XBox360 games, etc etc. Without a MASSIVE re-learning curve, and that really makes sense to me.

  24. Cole – Actually, Zoomify built a tool to do just that… Which I used for a project 3 years ago.

    I actually find your example extremely uninspiring. I’m not doubting the capabilities of Silverlight in some areas, but I would not use that example to tout its abilities. Want to send another link?

    P.S. – The fan on my laptop was going crazy for the past few minutes on my Dual Core MacBook. Turns out my browser was using 144% of system resources with that Hardrock app running in it (with no other tabs open). Unimpressive.

  25. DRM may be seen as the super secure plastic blister packages for high value products. Just as it may be smart and justified to ensure that the person who opens the package, owns it. I strongly support the fair use principle, and think it should be broadly interpreted to allow ALL non commercial usage, so i am a professed IP-liberal. That said DRM makes sense for SOME content. Lets say it contains trade secrets, or hard core pornography or some other private or objectionable content. For these reasons (and others, of course), DRM WILL survive, notwithstanding the public frustration with badly designed or implemented schema to date. If MS uses Silverlight or in its implementation of silverlight includes an invisible, intuitive system, it will grow and in doing so will shrink Adobe’s power, which should also be checked. Cheers to Ray Ozzie for convincing some serious MS hard heads within MS’ most senior executive management. Or maybe Ozzie was given authority by Gates/Ballmer. In any event, I think silverlight may or may not be a blockbuster, but its gonna survive and grow… So be on the lookout!

  26. @somerandomdude … so Zoomify have had 3 years and their stuff still looks jerky and is a pain to work with. The Deep Zoom stuff in Silverlight2 beta 1 is just out the gate and makes your Mac work a little hard… running on my 18 month old Vaio at about 15% CPU load so I suspect it’s just some perf tuning they need to work on before it’s out of beta…
    I’ve not seen a Flash site (zoomify or not) that does as good as job of letting you navigate mega pixel images with easy as the Hard Rock sample… and this is only the beginning for what Silverlight and managed code will bring.
    Don’t greet it with fear… investigate, try, explore, embrace … who knows … you may find some cool stuff or at least inspiration to try different ways of doing stuff in Flash πŸ˜‰

  27. Inventor19 – I completely agree with you – I think Silverlight is going to last, I just don’t think it’s going to be a strong contender against Flash/Flex if Adobe and the developer community continues feature rollout at its current page.

    Offbeatmammal – Note, I’m unsure if Zoomify is using AS3 yet, which is a huge piece of the puzzle in terms of performance. Some folks have created their own progressive-image zooming for Google Maps in AS3 and it’s plenty snappy. My response to this is that the Hardrock example is not really all that impressive. I have a basic idea of how something like that is implemented and it is completely technology agnostic. It could be built just as easily in Actionscript as it could C#.

    And that’s really what I’m getting at – so far, I have yet to see anything truly impressive that cannot be easily done in Flash. This begs the question – why would the interactive designers, design technologists and Flash/Flex developers take the time to learn a technology which really isn’t giving them anything new. On top if all that, we are talking about Microsoft here. These are the same people that are responsible for IE6, Active X and all the other monstrosities we have seen. The fact that it took 144% of my resources in idle is not something to shrug your shoulders about. This is classic Microsoft.

    I am not saying it has no potential, I am not saying it cannot produce quality work. I am saying that you have a product that hasn’t set itself apart from Flash/Flex and has shown a propensity to not make nice with web users or the front-end developer community. That is a recipe for low adoption from the people who are really going to determine the success of the product – the design technology community.

  28. I just had a look at the AS3 Google maps viewer. I don’t see how/why that’s impressive compared to Hard Rock (but I’m biased!)

    given the number of developers and designers I spoke with at MIX in Vegas last week I suspect you’re going to see a rising adoption curve… I’d say Silverlight has been quietly proving itself to the design and front-end developer community, and that the Flash/Flex apologists are starting to worry…

    As to resource usage… it’s probably a bug, and if it’s not fixed in the next beta I’d be really surprised… they’ve been really good at working on Mac and Firefox support – I notice on my MacBook Pro a lot of the images don’t resolve for quite a while… when they eventually do the CPU drops so there may be a networking stack issue on OSX.

    let’s have this conversation again when Beta 2 ships and we can see how the Mac support has improved with end user feedback (make sure you go to Silverlight.net and comment in the forums there about any issues you find to help make it better…)

  29. As one of the developers of the Hard Rock Memorabilia Silverlight application, I wanted to make sure this group knows we are actively working on improving the performance. Also bear in mind that a typical user is generating upwards of 30 HTTP requests a second for Deep Zoom iamge tiles. They way we look at itβ€”the web is now starting to take advantage of your idle CPU.

    Think of this experience akin to streaming a video at 30 fps.

    Besides, what else is your CPU doing :)?


  30. Hey guys, sorry for the late replies, I wasn’t ducking out – I promise. πŸ˜‰

    Offbeatmammal – From a user-experience perspective, the Google maps example is not even on the same planet as the Hardrock site, but from a functional and “snappiness” perspective, it shows that the whole tiling/progressive download technique is just as easily done in Flash as Silverlight. As I said, this technique is technology agnostic.

    I must say, I’m still highly irked that the developer tools are not available for the Mac (last time I checked). Meanwhile, Adobe offers up its Flex SDK for free as a plugin to a platform-independent, open-source development framework. I find this as a serious win for Adobe, especially for a community that is advocating for an open-source, non-proprietary environment for making things on the web.

    I have no doubt that the enterprise/corporate developers are interested in Microsoft technologies, I’m just not too sure how much of an impact they’ll have on the majority of web products being built. You’re seeing less and less web products using proprietary technology. The Fortune 500 companies may be eating it up, but I think we can all agree that the true innovation on the web is definitely not coming from them in general.

    I can empathize with Beta products not operating as expected – which could definitely be the reason for the high CPU usage on my machine, but my patience for Microsoft product bugs has lessened considerably…

    Mike Hanley – I want to take a step back and say that I understand the immense challenge in creating something impressive online. I also know how much it takes to build a web experience of substance. I had the sole responsibility for the development of the Viewpoints project which some people really like while others did not. So I do not want to lessen your achievement of launching an app of this scale. Real people are making these apps and it’s not really cool of me to throw stones. I apologize.

    About the 144% CPU usage – that’s still pretty rough. I actually had to close my browser because it was killing the performance in my other applications.

    Martin Beeby – Don’t you think it’s viable that some of that trending is due to the newness of this application which has garnered interest? I think it’s too soon to not consider this part of the honeymoon phase…

  31. All of the Olympic games this summer will be broadcast over the internet… with siverlight. I wonder what that will do for it’s marlet penetration.

  32. Yada, Yada. Microsoft will find a way. It has money to throw at brilliant minds and has mastered the art of turning applications into billions of dollars and crushing competition. It may not be tommorrow, it may not be next year but Microsoft Silverlight will send Flash into history just like it did Corel, IBM 0S-2, Netscape, and a lot of other competitor’s products.

  33. Name the last Microsoft product that sent it’s competition into history.

    Xbox? It’s competing, but it’s certainly not clearing the field.
    Zune? Ha! No.
    Vista? Most certainly not.

    The notion of the inevitability Microsoft domination with each product release is at least 7 years old. Microsoft is going to have to put out a significantly better product for Adobe to even begin flinching. Silverlight is not even ready to compete w/ Flash, let alone send it into history.

  34. Asp.Net 2.0
    Asp.Net 3.5
    Server 2008
    SQL 2005
    SQL 2008
    Microsoft Robotics CLR
    Office 2007

    Above are just a handful of the great products that are/were ahead of the curve. There are tons more.

    Microsoft isn’t just a team of developers. They’re a collection of disparate groups. Perhaps some of those groups haven’t delivered on some of the consumer side that you mentioned but let’s not pretend that they haven’t released some incredible technologies recently. It’s like any organisation, some products are great, and some are not so great. Zune is the later but Silverlight is the former

  35. I was about to install this plugin on Firefox (well, first I tried Opera but found out it’s not supported on that or Safari for Windows), when I read the EULA and saw the stuff about DRM, and how it will “phone home” to see if I am allowed to play the file, and also tell M$ what DRM and who knows what else is on my machine. So much for privacy. I will not install it and run the risk of having a potential future collection of files disabled arbitrarily, nor give M$ access to change something on my own computer without my permission.

  36. i suggest you take a look @ onflex.com…. Ted has a good point about Silverlight which is.. if silverlight is so great, then why does microsoft still use flash for some of it’s ( very new) web sites?

    well, we can say a couple of things here, about penetration and what not, and maturity of the platform ( flash/flex, not silverlight)… but really, if you must compare yourself to the technology you are trying to disrupt… well, as they say, no press is bad press, and i dont see any adobe sites running in silverlight… but to be fair, give it 5 years, and we will see…. but, FYI, flash/flex in the next 18 months is going to blow everything else out of the water for a long time…

  37. First the Olympics, now the DNC National Convention – http://gallery.demconvention.com – looks like Silverlight isn’t going anywhere just yet… two different adaptive streaming solutions demonstrated within days of each other… what does that start to tell you about the architecture and power of the media pipeline in the platform. Couple that with C# development and a growing user base (developers and end users) folks need to stop with the knee-jerk reactions and start learning some new skills so they can complete in both spaces…

  38. I would say that silverlight will take the forefront in the one place that flash is severely lacking, and that is Data Driven RIA apps. As a developer first and a designer a far and distant second I can tell you that being able to write my entire application in C# is a major selling point. I couldn’t agree more that Flash has the interactive media market solid, and to be honest I don’t feel silverlight delivers there either. But for delivering a desktop experience through a web browser, especially for controlled large scale intranet style environements I think Silverlight will reign supreme.

  39. When you say “Microsoft just doesn’t get it”, you couldn’t be more right. Microsoft is dumping a bunch of money into their “I’m a PC” campaign – you can see the ads on pandora.com. Click through to the site, and you’re prompted to install Silverlight to view the site.

    The whole point of the “I’m a PC” campaign is to get away from the reputation Microsoft has for being a stodgy, overbearing presence, whether it be Operating systems, Software Development, or DRM…then, you get to their promotional site and are forced right back into adopting their technology to view the site. Forget that.

    Having done web development on MS sites, I also know that they have a moratorium on building Flash sites – anything interactive must be done in Silverlight now, and my agency had to rebuild a site that was first done in Flash, into a Silverlight version, on their dime.

  40. @ Matthew Vines – Flex + Java (or PHP or .Net or Ruby) is way ahead of Silverlight as an RIA platform. I don’t think most of the Silverlight fanboys here have ever heard of Flex, they still think you design Flash-based RIAs in the Flash IDE instead of Flex Builder/Eclipse. I guess that’s the fault of Adobe’s marketing team. Flex as a brand is not really as catchy as Silverlight to be honest.

    As far as video quality, H.264 video in Flash is certainly as good as HD WMV in Silverlight. The problem really lies with YouTube’s crappy low-quality, double-encoding in VP6 giving flash video a bad name.

    I also think that AS3/ECMAScript 4 is a perfectly capable programming language. Intuitive and clean. It should take no time at all for someone from a C# or Java background to pick it up.

  41. Whoa!!! Some Flash trolls have the nerve to talk crap about SilverLight, huh?

    Let’s see: Where is the multithread support in Flash? We are into the multi-core age and you guys don’t even have multi-thread??!! …uh, wait, you do understand what multithread and multicore are, right? ouch!!

    Alright, let’s try sth you might have a clue about: Where’s your Deep Zoom? No, the “zoomify” joke doesn’t count. What? you got higher penetration rate? Tell that to Netscape, WordPerfect and Lotus, wait, they are not running any more, fine, never mind. Neither will Adobe be in the future. My deep condolence.

    Let’s see what else, hmmm, how about building end to end line of business n-tier apps? Do you CS folks have any idea how to build a high scalability web apps? What does Adobe have on the server side: Is there a WCF, WorkFlow, Sql Server Data Service, Live Mesh or anything? I can code both client side and server side in C#. What about Flash? Can I code server side in ActionScript? If not, do you know how much it sucks in the real business when you have to code across two different languages over internet?

    So you think SilverLight should fail?! BWHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Mark my words here: SilverLight will Netscape Flash. Don’t be the last fool left on the Flash sinking ship. Jump while you can, fast!!

  42. We develop in Flex and look at Silverlight especially after version 2, this has become interesting.
    A few points though.

    The installed base of Flash-player, it not a good argument. Microsoft can in a flash reach the same base more or less, by making this a recommended update or even mandatory.

    Flex is not multi-threaded, Silverlight is. This highly speaks in favour of Silverlight. We for sure could use threads in our Flex application.

  43. This post was made back in March and has many good points. I want to know if anyone’s view on Silverlight has changed since the announcement of h.264 support, Eclipse support, the open-sourcing of the Silverlight controls and the availability of an open-source compiler?

  44. Will the Silverlight plugin ship with Windows 7? Or be an ‘auto update’ for xp and Vista?

    that could put it on a huge amount of systems almost overnight.

    I too, have spend countless hours to make sites display correctly in IE6, and a lesser extent IE7. If IE8 is as standards compliant as it’s meant to be, then I may forgive Microsoft. If it turns out to be just as much of a pain in the ass… well I wouldn’t be surprised.

  45. I am a programmer, working in VS(Various flavours), SQL and front end web stuff when the need arises. I was going to write a huge explanation of why I think Silverlight is better for me(A programmer), but I will just say this. If you’re a programmer at heart, you will adore SilverLight, it’s beautiful stuff to work with. If you’re a creative person, then stick with flash.

    Alex : Silverlight 1 has already gone out as an essential update to XP and Vista. Silverlight 2 will no doubt be on there soon.

  46. Silver who? I’ve yet to see anything done in silverlight on the web that has even the slightest glimmer of impressiveness. Not a sausage. Nil. Nadda. Nowt.
    *pokes fire to check for embers* Nope not a spark.

    *Looks back to the blazing fire that thefwa.com is in comparison and rubs hands to warm glow*

    I think the problem with silverlight is ..well .. It’s dull. Sure it may have c#-sql-visual-h456-multithreadedness but it’s multithreaded dullness that nobody in the public cares about. (i.e the people that create demand for web fancyness and will ultimately decide whether flash or silverlight wins)

    It’s the unappealing multithreaded dullness of the square ‘pc bloke’ in the mac vs pc ads. It’s the trousers-tucked-into-flannel-trousers tedium of spreadsheets,word documents, blue screens and cheap suits.

    If it exceeded flash in stuff-people-want (that’s John Public not boring back office mr. code-drone) and could be deployed without getting an earache from the marketing department (they’ve heard of flash but this other thing..?) then we (the vast armies of creative and innovative designer+developers that get stuff made on the general interwebs) might look up from our macs and adobe suite and ponder it.

  47. I think it’s hilarious that this is still an argument.

    Until I start seeing that I am at a disadvantage by not using Silverlight, I’ll continue to use Flash/Flex and AIR.

    It’s all about the developer adoption. It doesn’t matter how good SL may be. If it lacks adoption by the application creators, there will be very little to see.

    Brandon Ellis’s last blog post..Reminder – FDUG meeting tonight – 10/16/2008

  48. Have you seen a Flash video streaming site with quality as good as http://www.smoothhd.com/ .. bet Hulu wish they’d used Silverlight now πŸ˜‰

    Silverlight has got to this point in about 18 months… there’s a huge army who already know .Net development who will really need some design skillz and guidance to help them create the next generation of amazing experiences. Rather than rant about how cool Flash is why not take design skills and make sure these new experiences look at least as good as Flash and learn where the .Net development model can help push your creativity a little bit further…

  49. @ Offbeatmammal, your argument is bunk. Of course, well-encoded H.264 video through Flash looks just as good as SmoothHD. I’m sure Hulu are very happy with their choice. They have just made a decision to encode at levels to cater to a greater number of users, while SmoothHD are obviously happy reaching less than 50% of regular users.

    Apart form deep zoom (how often will you use this), Silverlight is way behind Flash. The sound API and drawing API are way behind and where’s the 3D effects and custom filters and effects in Silverlight? I don’t see how the .Net development model is going to push creativity further. In fact, quite the opposite. Am I going to be as creative in Blend as I am in Illustrator/Photoshop? Yeah, right!

  50. @Darren …. can you point me to a well encoded H.264 video playing back in Flash that can cope with changing bandwidth conditions / network contention and change bandwidth requirement up and down on the fly? Oh, and secure enough that the studios are happy to see it used for high value content?

    SmoothHD is one example of the adaptive capabilities in Silverlight. The Move player used for the Democratic National Convention (http://gallery.demconvention.com) is another, the NBC Olympics was a huge showcase and we can’t forget the new Netflix Instant Watch for Mac and PC using another.

    Of course Silverlight is behind Flash. It’s just hit it’s second release, Flash is on it’s tenth release (and only just got 2.5D) … Silverlight is evolving a lot faster than Flash (and I’m still waiting to see someone to something like the Hardrock site or http://awebsitenameddesire.com/ or a bunch of others)

    Many of the designers I know work in Illustrator first and export vectors to Blend to add the code to – and the .Net army are learning to become creative developers in Blend.

    The two are going to go along side by side for many years. They’ll both have strengths and weaknesses and IMO a lot of the naysaying from folks who think Flash is superior is coming from the people who have not realised that it’s another skill they can take to paying customers…

  51. @Darren
    You obviously didn’t look at my link. That’s full 3D, with shaders, lighting and cameras. It loads standard .3ds files, and it’s so fast you would think it was an app, not a browser plug-in.

    Ohh, and http://adamkinney.com/blog/368/default.aspx
    It’s quake, in real 3D(Not 2.5).

    There is also the microsoft streaming service, which I have been using for a project I’m on at the moment, and it’s awesome.

  52. I want to shout “I COMPLETELY AGREE” with the assessment on developers who are COMPLETELY SICK AND TIRED of Microsoft’s non compliance to standards.

    I am so sick of browser wars that I can’t see straight. One only has to go to W3C to see what’s required.

    In 1985, i had chore to program apps on Digital Equipment machines that could be viewed on three different monitor types.

    Brower wars have brought that painful experience back all over again.

    IF Opera; IF IE; IF Mozilla, IF Safari; IF my ASS!

    Then we have to remember the Microsoft Bloat factor.

  53. Silverlights strongest point is… developers developers developers πŸ™‚

    when you give developers a new framework to build faster/better rich internet applications, but leave tools the same, its a win/win scenario.

    Lets face it, developing rich application in JS/HTML is hard. I know there are folk that think it ok.. yeah, you can get used to the challenge, but man.. it does not have to be hard!

    And Silverlight brings you.. the tool/framewrok that you already know (VS, .net), with the language that you love (C#,VB.net, F#) and gives you the Presentation Framwrok (WPF).

    Silverlight is not target at existing Flash develoers in ANY way!
    If you can do the job with the existing tools that you use, thats fine. The point of it.. if you think.. that OOP language should be better.. the IDE support and refactoring support should be better.. than you will look at Silverlight.

    So.. the whole Flash vs Silverlight thing…
    I dot feel flash will be dead in the near future.. they all can co-exist πŸ™‚
    But i think after Macromedia got by Adobe… thing get a little out of hand.. and flash stoped evolving.
    Its the same thing with .net vs Java thing..
    After Oracle got Sun… Java stopped evolving..

  54. HTML5 will kill Flash. Sorry. It’s the truth. Silverlight will live on, but will eventually have to bow down as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *