Microsoft rolls out "Silverlight" to compete with Adobe Flash... can it succeed with Flash's huge installed base?
Yesterday Alec Saunders' "Silverlight vs. Flash: the battle for the platform" was where I first learned that Microsoft was officially releasing "Silverlight", the product previously known as "Windows Presentation Framework/Everywhere (WPF/E)" (and yes, I'll agree that "Silverlight" rolls off the tongue a bit better than "WPF/E".... (although not quite as easily as "Flash" but perhaps all the good one-syllable words have been taken)). The press release shows some pretty impressive support (but you would expect that) and it's definitely great to see Microsoft also providing a version for Mac OSX as well as the other browsers of Firefox and Safari. To quote official materials:
Microsoft Silverlight will enable content providers to deliver media experiences and rich interactive applications that incorporate media, graphics, animation, and much, much more with full application functionality on both Windows and Mac platforms and inside IE, Firefox and Safari. Silverlight users will also enjoy compatibility with the broad ecosystem of Windows Media (VC-1) enabled tools and solutions, including existing and upcoming IIS and Windows Streaming Media server technologies.
Microsoft blogger Tim Sneath provides more details which definitely sound interesting.... I need to investigate XAML more personally, but I like a lot of what I read there. The ways in which video are to be supported are also intriguing to me. As hinted here and other places, there will be more announcements at Microsoft's upcoming (and sold out) MIX conference April 30th. There has obviously been a ton of blogging about this since the announcement, but here are some links I found of interest:
- Wall Street Journal: "Microsoft, Adobe Set a Collision Course on the Web"
- Robert Scoble: "Microsoft smacks down new Media Player too..." (comments are good)
- Microsoft blogs relating to Silverlight
With, as Alec says, Adobe Flash already installed on 84% of desktops, how good are Microsoft's chances of success? Flash has been out there for many years now, has a very strong developer community and has a great number of tools to help in Flash creation.
Despite that, I have to say that Microsoft's chances are probably quite strong, for several reasons:
- Microsoft has an incredibly strong developer community, and looks to be integrating this Silverlight into its development tools, including the .Net framework.
- Microsoft has incredible desktop and browser penetration (which leads to #1).
- They are making this available for other browsers and for MacOS X with apparently the identical capabilities.
- They are stating support for
- They are being very open and transparent about all that they are doing.
To this last point, I would reference Tim Sneath's followup post about feedback to the Silverlight announcement, where he talks about the fact that he's left intact all the blog comments and addresses several points directly and ends with this:
Our success or failure with Silverlight is contingent on whether we satisfy developers like yourselves - time will tell how we do, but I hope that you'll at least give us a chance to earn your trust.
Kudos to Tim for the openness and honesty and yes, they'll have to earn our trust, but at least in the mind of this writer (who has a very strong Linux and open source background) they are certainly off to a good start. Let's see what comes next...
P.S. And yes, Adobe also announced their Media Player to further increast the battle between the two companies.. but I'll take a look at that separately in another post at some point. And yes, it would have been great if MS also announced a version of Silverlight for Linux desktops, too (which Adobe does have)... but, hey, I do give them credit for providing a Mac version and also supporting other browsers.