Moonlight assumes subordinate position for Microsoft Silverlight

Moonlight assumes subordinate position for Microsoft Silverlight

Summary: Even the name Moonlight assumes the subordinate position. The Moon has no light of its own. It merely reflects light from a nearby star. In this case, Microsoft.

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How should open source feel about the release of a new Microsoft Silverlight Linux port?

Really, really good, writes Miguel de Icaza, noting that a preview of Version 2.0 is now ready to roll.

It's so good our Microsoft blogger, Mary Jo Foley, gushes over it over at ZDNet's All About Microsoft. The Version 2.0 Moonlight will preview just months before Microsoft releases Version 3.0 of Silverlight, she writes.

Which is all you really need to know. This is not open source closing the gap on Microsoft. This is open source assuming the subordinate position.

It's the kind of open source success story Microsoft wants publicized. Microsoft innovates, open source copies.

It's not the kind of open source story open source needs, however.

What open source needs is real innovation, created by teams who may or may not represent Microsoft's fierce competitors. This can be hard to deliver, and Microsoft would like us all to know resistance in this case is futile.

Even the name Moonlight assumes the subordinate position. The Moon has no light of its own. It merely reflects light from a nearby star. In this case, Microsoft.

But is it? Which consumer open source projects do you think are doing the most innovation right now?

Topics: Software Development, Microsoft, Open Source

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24 comments
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  • REALLY????

    "Even the name Moonlight assumes the subordinate position. The Moon has no light of its own. It merely reflects light from a nearby star. In this case, Microsoft."

    This just might be the dumbest thing I have read today. Please reaffirm my faith by telling me you're joking.
    Fark
    • He put it very well!! Moonlight must follow Silverlight, and Microsoft

      holds all the cards. They can keep Moonlight on a treadmill trying to keep up with new undocumented or poorly documented features, and can even throw in extras that include pateneted algorithms that Moonlight can not duplicate.

      The only way that Moonlight can possibly break free is if alternate platforms gain a critical mass and Moonlight becomes the standard that developers write to. Will we see a Windows version of Moonlight??
      DonnieBoy
  • Open source doesn't innovate

    for the simple reason that those involved are builder
    types not research types.

    Innovation requires research. As an example, Microsoft
    put tremendous effort into researching a new UI
    metaphor for Office because they recognized that the
    old menus/toolbars were becoming too complicated and
    that users were frequently asking for features already
    in the product. They continue to solicit telemetry
    (opt-in) data to analyze and make informed decisions
    rather then guesswork based on personal preferences.

    In general open source developers copy others' ideas
    and sometimes improve them.

    Very, very few real innovations come from the open
    source community. That probably because if you have a
    really original idea you may want to profit from it
    using a proprietary route. When you don't get original
    ideas but know how to build stuff you'll just settle
    for (trying to) improve on others' ideas.
    honeymonster
    • MS doesn't innovate...

      They Copy, Buy, or Steal their ideas.

      Zune - Copy of iPod
      Xbox - Nintendo, Playstation, Sega
      DOS - bought from IBM
      Active Directory - Copy of Novell
      Pink - Possible iphone competition? TBD.

      about the only thing MS has ever innovated on was Windows and Office their flagship products.

      And for many years now MS products do not play well with non Microsoft products. Now that is changing with support for ODT, but still take like Sharepoint. Open a sharepoint in Firefox or other Netscape source browser, and the CSS is all wacked, and features will not work properly.

      Changing a GUI is hardly innovation, it is just moving things around, making it pretty, and somewhat more functional. No real innovation in that. Innovation is creating something new, something that hasn't been done, and MS has been lagging in that department since Windows and Office. Buying a product and slapping Microsoft on it, is not innovation.
      xXSpeedzXx
      • So wrong!

        By considering the strong position of MS Research, I don't agree with you. Both IBM and Microsoft are the biggest investors in research of computer science. For instance, Surface is the first commercial product that provides multi-touch for grand surface.
        Gladiatorcn
      • Then I suppose posting this link ...

        ... http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/research/default.aspx has nothing to do with innovation?

        Point me to the Linux research projects with as much scope, interest and vibrancy as even one of Microsoft's research projects.
        Confused by religion
      • correction: QDOS was bought from Seattle Computer Products for $50K

        And renamed MSDOS.
        Custard_over_2x_Pie
        • Which was a rip of cp/m

          nt
          Alan Smithie
          • Yes!

            But some of us already know that. ;)
            Custard_over_2x_Pie
      • Disagree

        Microsoft does innovate, it's not always with a brand new product. With some of the products you listed as copies, Microsoft brought something new with it. The zune had wi-fi...ipod touch copied that. Xbox introducted Xbox-live...which is now copied by PS3. DOS...was the first disk operating system for x86 computers. Active Directory was an improvement from Novell for integrating network identities into application security.

        Changing the GUI is innovative, if it improves the user experience, and improves productivity. Microsoft like all proprietary companies (Apple, Oracle, IBM), often has trouble playing with others...they want to use whatever competitive advantage they have to control and gain access to new markets. That doesn't mean that they aren't innovative.
        bmonster
    • Wishful thinking.

      That's all I see in your post. When you use the word "innovate" are you using it in the classic Webster's Dictionary sense or are you using the Microsoft version of the word. They are very different meanings because Microsoft is actually the one who copies from everyone else. Some call it stealing. "Very, very few real innovations come from" Microsoft.

      Think about this. Open Source started as just an idea immersed in a proprietary closed source environment. In spite of that hostile environment it grew. It continues to grow. Moonlight and its Master Silverlight are just one of the latest devices Microsoft has employed in their effort to neuter Open Source. If Open Source was losing ground then we wouldn't be talking about it here. It's not losing ground, it's gaining. If Microsoft has been unable to stop Open Source up to now, how is going to do it when it's stronger? ANS: It's not. It's not an "if" question, it's a "when" question. There's is a critical mass Open Source has yet to reach. Its growth has been gradual and, to some extent, unseen. When Open Source growth hits that point you'll know it. And if you are deeply integrated into a closed source enterprise, then you'll feel it too. Nobody could say you didn't see it coming.
      kozmcrae
    • Where innovation comes from

      Honeymonster asks some good questions that open
      source does need to answer. I don't believe that
      innovation comes mainly from research. Mainly it
      comes from starting with a blank sheet of paper
      and working from the inside out, from the user's
      point of view.

      That's a different skill than writing software.
      It's also subject to a different type of
      economics. Software collections like Linux are
      about scaling the work of many, many coders, and
      by making the code visible (as in open source)
      this is easier.

      Creating real innovation, inventing in other
      words, is a different skill set that exists
      mainly at the start of the process.

      Thanks, Honeymonster.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • Open Source Does innovate a lot in a few cases

      Most softwares frameworks developed by the scientific community are released under open source licenses.

      Check out for instance:

      root.cern.ch
      LaTeX
      ...

      I am sure one can add some other big names to the list.

      zelrikriando
    • Ignorant generalization

      Innovation is found in both close and open source communities.

      This is an interesting article as it comes a few days after Mark Shuttleworth mentioned that Ubuntu has to do its own thing and not worry about Microsoft. People will debate whether or not Ubuntu has been innovative at all but I think we?ll agree the little successes of the last year for Linux (i.e ? Dell Netbook sales have Ubuntu and over 1% Linux web browsing) can be contributed to some sort of innovation by Ubuntu. We?ll see where Shuttleworths project is in 5 years.

      Vista, on the other hand, went the other way. They tried to compete with Mac OS X on the user experience front and put people off. People found Vista either too slow or too confusing to use, and then there were some of the other issues. Vista may have sold well but it was mainly because it came with the machine. Most people I know installed XP on any new computer they bought a week they got it (even after I told them to give it some more time). Windows 7 looks to show some of the innovation that allowed Microsoft to put a PC in every house.

      My favorite open-source story is XBMC and its kids Boxee and Plex. There is not a media center around that touches those ones. I can?t be bothered to play video games but my love of media (particularly music) led me to search for a media center that fulfilled my needs and XBMC was one of my last stops because I though it was a game system thing. I used to love album shopping and sometime bought albums on a hunch based what I saw on the cover. MCE was too clumsy and Myth was too unpolished. When I finally found and tried these three media centers I was blown away and the guy that was kind of sad to see CDs go moved on. I?m using Plex right now but I keep a close eye on Boxee. The social aspect of it is very cutting edge.
      maskman01
  • RE: Moonlight assumes subordinate position for Microsoft Silverlight

    Dana does not seem to have looked up the definition of Innovation on a dictionary.

    I have replied to his claims on my blog:

    http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2009/May-06.html

    Miguel de Icaza
    migueldeicaza
    • Behind the link

      Everyone is invited to read Miguel's post in
      full, but his two points are that Moonlight is
      just designed to read Silverlight files, and
      that open source has lots and lots of
      innovations. Examples are cited.

      I want to thank Miguel for both writing the post
      at Tirania and for writing here with a link to
      it. Great help on both counts.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • Innovation and inventions

      Miguel, first I want to say that I have
      tremendous respect for what you are doing. Even
      more respect for the way you have held your
      head high through all of the ideologically
      motivated vicious attacks on your persona.
      Kudos.

      As Dana sorta said above there's innovation and
      there inventions and research. Sometimes
      innovations takes place in the strangest of
      places.

      I believe that targeted research driven by a
      realization that we need a paradigm shift will
      never happen in an open source environment. It
      may happen in an academic environment which is
      an open source cousin, and innovations or even
      inventions may very well be <i>released</i>
      into open source.

      But that's research and inventions. Innovation
      is also what happens when someones has a novel
      perspective and perhaps combines existing
      technologies in a way that makes you go "yeah,
      of course, why didn't I think of that?".

      You yourself have several examples of that from
      the Mono/Moonlight ecosystem. I remember you
      speaking about cross-compilation to iPhone. So
      now you are building a development
      infrastructure which will let app/game
      developers target iPhone, even though Apple
      adamantly bans anythings with even remotely VM
      capabilities. That's a perfect example of Mono
      (real) innovation, even though it's perfectly
      correct that for Silverlight interoperability
      you naturally need to follow Microsoft.

      I still maintain that we need commercial
      companies and/or foundations to do actual
      research. Also, I'm not so sure that a
      transition like the one Microsoft is doing
      right now from Win32 GDI "redraw" graphics to a
      retained mode vector-based Presentation
      Foundation would be possible at all in an open
      source setting. Likewise with the transition
      from VB6 to VB.NET. I generally prefer
      democracy - especially as a way to govern
      states - but sometimes we need to leave the
      deadwood behind. The evolution would never had
      been so successful (from a human POV) had
      nature not invented aging and death. Sometimes
      we can speed things up by not competing with
      the previous generations. If the dinosaurs
      still roamed the earth there might not have
      been room for humans. Likewise with software.
      Sometimes the old principles/APIs just have to
      die. But if their users have too much power me
      may end up sacrificing huge future advantages
      for smaller present conveniences.
      honeymonster
  • RE: Moonlight assumes subordinate position for Microsoft Silverlight

    Dana,

    You missed the point that Moonlight has innovated on its own.

    We did Silverlight-Out-of-Browser support first, almost two years before Microsoft announced it:

    http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2007/Jun-28.html

    But like I said, it probably is irrelevant/futile to brag about that.

    I did not mention that in my blog, but embeddable Moonlight is another use (just like people embed WebKit into their apps, we support embedding Moonlight into people's apps).

    Miguel.
    migueldeicaza
  • RE: Moonlight assumes subordinate position for Microsoft Silverlight

    Hello,

    I think this is again a matter of market penetration and distribution.

    Let me address your claim "Also, I'm not so sure that a transition like the one Microsoft is doing right now from Win32 GDI "redraw" graphics to a retained mode vector-based Presentation Foundation would be possible at all in an open source setting."

    Not only it would be possible, it was *done*.

    Retained graphic systems became popular in Unix in the 90's. In particular the Tk "Canvas" object was ahead of its time and was used to create powerful applications on Unix.

    John Ousterhout at UC Berkley started work on Tk in 1988 and by 1991 he was distributing it.

    When we started work in Gnome in 1997 we already knew about Tk's powerful Canvas, the retained graphics system that most people used. And we decided to copy the design and implement it as a Gtk+ widget (what we used as the foundation for Gnome).

    The Tk canvas did not use XAML for its objects, instead it used Tcl, but it was the same model, stuff like this:

    $ wish
    % canvas .mycanvas
    % pack .mycanvas
    % .mycanvas create rectangle 0 0 100 100 -fill red

    The GnomeCanvas was the foundation for a number of applications: Gnumeric's entire grid, bars and on-screen graphics were all Canvas objects.

    By March of 1999 we were shipping Gnome with the Canvas, and Gnumeric built with it. It was a big productivity booster for people developing GUI apps.

    Inkscape (it was previously called Sodipodi) was all built on this canvas as well.

    Over the years people forked, modified and improved upon the concept of the Canvas and today Gnome has some 5-6 canvases designed for different workloads.

    But once again: our reach was minimal compared to a company that could get everyone to adopt a new technology.

    We were there first, we shipped Gnome and that technology in 1999. It did not really change the world.

    Miguel.
    migueldeicaza
    • "matter of market penetration and distribution."

      I'm struggling to find a nice way of explaining how I interpret those words. I can't, but it's quite descriptive of the relationship between Microsoft and the market. It wouldn't be legal if it was personal relationship.
      kozmcrae