Will Microsoft's Silverlight dampen the appeal of Google's Chrome OS?

Will Microsoft's Silverlight dampen the appeal of Google's Chrome OS?

Summary: I'm not one of those ready to write Windows an RIP certificate now that Google has finally taken (some of) the wraps off its Chrome OS. In fact, after reading through industry watchers' questions and Google's answers about it, I'm thinking that Chrome OS may not look quite so appealing by the time it rolls out in late 2010. Here's why.


I'm not one of those ready to write Windows an RIP certificate now that Google has finally taken (some of) the wraps off its Chrome OS. In fact, after reading through industry watchers' questions and Google's answers about it, I'm thinking that Chrome OS may not look quite so appealing by the time it rolls out in late 2010. Here's why.

First, as others have noted, Google's Chrome OS is a new windowing system layered on top of Linux that is being customized to run on netbooks. Chrome OS is an "extension to Chrome," the company's browser, in Google execs' own words. Google officials are billing Chrome OS, among other things, as a way to provide Web applications with the functionality of desktop applications.

Microsoft offers an extension not just to its browser, Internet Explorer, but also to Firefox, Apple's Safari and Google's own Chrome. That extension is Silverlight. Among other things, Silverlight is a vehicle for providing increasingly complex consumer and business apps via a browser.

At the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) this week, Microsoft rolled out its strategy and plans for Silverlight 4, the version of its browser plug-in that is slated for final release by mid-2010. Silverlight 4 is adding support for data binding, enterprise networking and printing, and lots of other features that are likely to make the platform more appealing to folks writing not just single-function, lightweight Web apps, but enterprise apps, as well.

Silverlight is a slimmed-down, cross-platform version of Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) programming model. Each successive iteration of Silverlight includes more and more WPF functionality (and vice versa).

Some day -- Microsoft won't say exactly when -- Silverlight and WPF are going to merge into one Web programming and app delivery model that, most likely, will be known as Silverlight, Brad Becker, Director of Product Management for Microsoft's Rich Client Platforms, told me this week at TechEd the PDC. Now that the two share the same compiled assemblies, tools and the like, that idea isn't really so far-fetched. Until that happens, Microsoft plans to continue to offer both WPF and Silverlight, steering developers of more complex, resource-intensive applications toward WPF and Web-centric app developers toward Silverlight.

When Google execs were asked during this week's press conference where they shared more information (but no code or systems) about the Chrome OS as to whether Silverlight would be able to work on Chrome OS, they said no comment. Maybe they see Silverlight might be more foe than friend of the Chrome OS.

I understand Silverlight is not an operating system. But some Google watchers are questioning whether the Chrome OS is actually an operating system, either, or just a glorified browser. Unlike Silverlight, which can run on a variety of PCs and soon, phones, Google OS is going to be a dedicated Linux-based netbook OS that will only work with certain predesignated peripherals. Microsoft already offers a netbook OS -- Windows -- which doesn't force you to run all apps inside your browser -- and which works with lots of different devices.

Would you go so far as to say the Chrome OS is going to be more of a Silverlight competitor than a WIndows one? I'm thinking right now that may seem a bit far-fetched, but as more and more apps are designed to run in Silverlight, maybe not....?

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Google, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • MS is the past Google is the future so Nope

    Google is the old MS, MS is the old IBM.

    PC_DOS never made it, MS_DOS did.

    The driving factor was openness and innovation.

    Today and in the near future, Google has

    Today MS sees profit only and based on that
    drives its innovation.

    Like in the past, those who adapt faster thrive,
    those who are set in their ways languish.

    Silverlight requires a lot of computing power to
    do the work it does.

    Chrome OS will fly from boot time. So MS is in
    for harder times still.

    HTML 5 and beyond will change the landscape on
    how Internet operates. Google and Apple are
    prepared for it. MS has Silverlight and has
    Windows 7 enough said.
    • Profit motivation

      Profit will motivate. It always has. It will end up producing a better product in the future as it has in the present and the past. Open source will almost always be playing catch up. Not never, but usually, and certainly over time. As computing power continues to increase, the advantages of Silverlight will continue to grow. Boot up times are sometimes irritating, but not as irritating as inferior products. As more and more machine move to solid state memory boot up time reduce as well. Those with old inferior equipment will go with open source, that is what it is designed for after all.
      • Any other memes you wish to tell us about?

        1. Profit motivates profit and nothing more.
        2. Recent products (2005~newer) show it's more about profit than quality.
        3. There's nore to life than profit: Read Gogole's terms of service, particularly chapter 11. When using their system, they are granting themselves co-ownership and use of rather a lot of a person's intellectual property. Leeching off of others for personal profit. This is why small businesses and not corporate leeches need to be encouraged. And this time, Microsoft is the lesser evil. By far.
        • Who are you and what have you done with HypnoToad?

          "And this time, Microsoft is the lesser evil. By far."

          <cue Twilight Zone theme music>

        • "Gasp!"


    • I believe I will side with the others

      and say, no this is really not anything all that new or exciting.

      You do not think Google only sees profit? Intersting how all of their products are created to drive business [i]towards[/i] them.

      I think you see too much of something that is not there in your zest to see Microsoft "disappear".

      Goolge [i]wants[/i] to change the lanscape to their benefit, unfortunatelly the rest just are not cooperating with them.
      • Siding with the others

        Even though it drives a hole in parts of the argument I was making, you are so right.
    • SilverLight nukes Google's gimmick

      Check out the features of the latest SilverLight. It's a dream-set for web developers and simply blows competition away. Google's ChromeOS OTH looks like emperor's new cloth.
      • Silverlight sucks, the penguin gave Gates rabies.

        Bill foams at the mouth running into chairs and tables until his heart just stops, when the demons of hell hear, a pit opens up beneath Redmond sucking hell's master Bill Satan Gates back in.
        • Loser plus Loser = ?

          Linux is a pathetic "but there's always next year" desktop loser.

          HTML + JAVASCRIPT + AJAX is another pathetic loser framework for serious APP development.

          Combining two losers together into ChromeOS gives you a bigger loser that's twice as pathetic.
          • hmm...

            [i]HTML + JAVASCRIPT + AJAX is another pathetic loser framework for serious APP development.[/i]

            Isn't Silverlight based on Ajax?
            Linux Geek
          • SilverLight relies on a .Net plugin

            SilverLight is running rich yet efficient .Net apps inside the browser.
          • No

            <i>Isn't Silverlight based on Ajax?</i>

            No, not at all. Silverlight is based on a
            slimmed down version of .NET, called
            <i>DLR</i>*. So it is no more based on AJAX
            than Flash is.

            However, with the new dynamic language features
            it offers a seamless binding to HTML. And
            JavaScript can be modeled as just another of
            the languages which can be used to code for

            Already now, developers can code for
            Silverlight using a number of languages, such
            as Ruby, C#, VB.NET, Python etc. The clever
            thing is that all source code (unlike e.g.
            JavaScript) are pre-compiled by the developer
            into intermediate language (IL) code - an Ecma
            standard. So the Silverlight execution engine
            only needs to know how to compile IL to machine
            code - it is agnostic to what language was
            originally used.

            Silverlight is quite impressive. But whether it
            will displace JavaScript and/or kill HTML5 is
            another story. Not so sure there.
  • RE: Will Microsoft's Silverlight dampen the appeal of Google's Chrome OS?

    Yes it will!
    Loverock Davidson
    • I believe!

      All Linux heathens should believe: Microsoft is God and Loverock Davidson is his prophet.

      Repent and convert, before you all turn into nasty, smelly pinguins who take candy away from little children!
      Lovehog Dorkson
      • You know what they do to prophets!

      • Amen my brother!

        Ashhadu anna la alOSa ila alWindows wa ashhadu anna Loverockan rasuulu Ballmer.
  • Don't know a lot about Silverlight, but

    it seems to me that ANY MS solution will need more expensive HW and will try to generate cash flow to replace what they may lose if they don't sell Windows/Office.

    Therefore, if MS really has to compete on price, they start WAY behind the 8-ball. Google can give the stuff away, and vendors can put it on cheaper HW.

    Am I missing something here? I just don't see a lot of options for MS
    • They have plenty of options.

      The main one is that as long as they have an operating system that allows anyone to create anything that will run on it, then Google is the one with very little in the way of options.

      Once you purchase Windows, you need never purchase another Microsoft product if you do not want.

      With Google, well once you choose the Google option, you are stuck with what Goolge does, or does not do.
      • Those are options?

        You are not even dealing with the issues