Microsoft's Silverlight - Potential Flash Alternative

Adobe's ubiquitous Flash has never had serious competition, which allowed it to become the dominant technology for Web multimedia, even though its complexity causes some headaches for developers. Yet Microsoft's Silverlight stands to give Flash a run for its market share. Now available in beta, Silverlight is slated for a 1.0 release this summer and is already drawing strong interest from developers.

Attendees at Microsoft's TechEd 2007 conference in Orlando, Fla., crowded into a packed Silverlight overview session Monday evening, led by Developer Division General Manager Scott Guthrie. A recap of slides and demos first shown at Microsoft's Mix07 show last month, the Silverlight session showcased the technology that Microsoft is relying on to bring its technology platform beyond the operating system and into the Web browser. Silverlight is a subset of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) system that powers Vista. It aims to best Flash in two ways: By offering better-looking, more advanced display and interactive functionality, and by featuring better tooling support.

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Flash is installed on 98% of computers conencted to the internet, when MS included the MSN searchbar in IE and MSN Messanger which was a lot more convenient to use than typing in "google.com" or downloading the google toolbar (for the average lazy user anyways) they still only came out as the third most popular search engine. an optional download has no chance against a plugin so big it will probably land a definition in the oxford dictionary.

Still having competition against Flash wouldn't hurt at all. Without Firefox, we'd still be using IE6, or without Google, still using those "WOW 10MB for emails!!".

Competition is always good. Write that one down.

Dakkaroth said,
Without Firefox, we'd still be using IE6...
I'm using Opera.
It's better to say: "Without alternative browsers, we'd still be using IE6"

Dakkaroth said,
Still having competition against Flash wouldn't hurt at all. Without Firefox, we'd still be using IE6, or without Google, still using those "WOW 10MB for emails!!".

Competition is always good. Write that one down. ;)

Good point. And I do not take to these 'silverlight has 0 percent market share' arguments. These same people tell us every year that MS is going to fall to single digit market share OS's because they are superior, then turn around and contradict their own logic. Unlike multiple OS's however, it is easy to run both silverlight and flash at the same time, and could be useful. I believe silverlight, javafx and future versions of flash (flex?) will all see widespread adoption and common usage, I think the consumer wins here, so bring it on.

mattrobs said,
What's wrong with Flash? I thought it was pretty good.

It's not made by Microsoft. Therefore Microsoft must assimilate it.

Flash also runs on aging browsers and on Linux, a platform Microsoft isn't planning to support for Silverlight, which will work on Macs and PCs running Internet Explorer 6 or 7 or modern versions of Firefox or Safari

Although Microsoft's reserve on approaching Linux platforms is predictible in the light of the recent patent wars, such a technology should be widely available for all platforms, otherwise it beats it's own purpose. It's not like Adobe/Macromedia rushed to support Linux, but to some extent plugins were available for these platfoms; I think Microsoft is going to have a hard time gaining acceptance with a technology that limits its availability, of course that if they don't have some 'final solution' plans in store for the Linux community.

The_Decryptor said,
Microsoft never officially supported .NET on Linux, but there is a reason there is a fully compatible implementation ;)

Good point, MS isn't going to stop Mono from making newer .NET versions or Silverlight run on linux. MS has said that if they want to do it they can go ahead. And if the tech isn't so great in the first place like many FOSS people say, why even bother to port it anyways?

GP007 said,
Good point, MS isn't going to stop Mono from making newer .NET versions or Silverlight run on linux. MS has said that if they want to do it they can go ahead. And if the tech isn't so great in the first place like many FOSS people say, why even bother to port it anyways?

Well, the CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) and CIL (Common Intermediate Language) are ISO and ECMA standards so they can't really tell Mono not to develop it. There are patents, but mainly to do with Windows Forms and other assorted assemblies that are provided by the Microsoft .NET CLR (Common Language Runtime).

GP007 said,
And if the tech isn't so great in the first place like many FOSS people say, why even bother to port it anyways?

There will still be content that users will want to see in that format