Digging into the Silverlight 2 announcement

Digging into the Silverlight 2 announcement

Summary: (Update: It also looks like you can grab the final bits as of 12:01 this morning: http://www.microsoft.

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(Update: It also looks like you can grab the final bits as of 12:01 this morning: http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/resources/install.aspx?v=2.0)

After listening to the Q&A from the press conference today (recording here), digging into some of the details, and reading some of the commentary on various blogs, there are a few things that I don't quite understand about the announcement today. I think part of this is because there wasn't a whole lot of new news from the announcement and it was more of a direction announcement than anything. Of course, I work for Adobe, so I look at the world differently. The end result is that it's great Silverlight 2 is finally out in the wild. As an RIA enthusiast and an Adobe employee I've witnessed that Adobe does its most innovative work when both our community and our competitors push us. But there are a few things that struck me as odd from the release.

The 1 in 4 Number
Scott Guthrie said that "already one in four consumers worldwide has access to a computer with Silverlight already installed" but I'm not quite sure what that number means. Ben Romano from the Seattle Times noticed it too and it seems like an odd metric to use. The numbers game is a little bit bogus everywhere because there are so many ways to measure things: downloads, penetration, etc. The other numbers show that Silverlight is gaining traction, but it's hard for developers to do a direct penetration comparison with Flash right now.

Linux
In the Q&A, Tim Anderson asked about Linux support. Right now Silverlight has partial support for 1.0 (though it doesn't include video or MP3 playback, two of the main features of Silverlight 1.0) and there is no support for 2 on Linux right now. As Tim notes, it's misleading to tout the cross platform aspect of Silverlight without an actual release. It's also surprising that there was absolutely nothing in terms of a roadmap for Linux. My hunch is that they wanted something to announce for PDC and this may be it. As Brian Goldfarb mentioned in the Q&A session, Miguel de Icaza, who runs the Moonlight effort, has a session at PDC although his session doesn't say anything about Silverlight/Moonlight so I'm not sure what to make of that.

Eclipse Support
This is the one I was most bummed about. The announcement about Eclipse support for Silverlight is a big deal. As a Mac developer I've been waiting for a way to build Silverlight apps on my Mac (what better way to scope out the competition than to start building apps on their platform). But the release of Eclipse4sl is currently Windows only with support coming from others "soon". I agree that it makes sense for Microsoft to woo developers outside the Microsoft ecosystem, but why use Eclipse on Windows when you have Visual Studio? Ask any developer and they will tell you Visual Studio is basically a gold standard for IDEs. Even more, as part of the press release they announced that Silverlight support extends to Visual Studio 2008 Express, the free version of Visual Studio. So if I can use the free version of arguably the best IDE out there to create Silverlight 2 apps, why do I want to use Eclipse? Hopefully "soon" really does mean soon for Eclipse Silverlight support on the Mac.

The other parts of the announcement are significant. Opening up the components is great, especially considering the gigantic ecosystem of Microsoft developers out there. Nick Hoover asked about Silverlight inside Microsoft and the response was that over 100 campaigns had been run with Silverlight. Most of these seem to be very video centric, but I can only assume more actual applications will be coming from the world's largest software maker.

Now that Silverlight 2 is out, the RIA battle heats up more. As I mentioned above, that's a good thing for me or anyone who wants to watch Adobe and Microsoft add features and functionality. I'm looking forward to being able to start talking about Silverlight 3 and Flash Player 11 soon.

Topics: Software Development, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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14 comments
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  • Eclipse

    Ryan - I guess the point with the Eclipse stuff is to appeal to
    Java developers who don't want to step out of Eclipse to do
    RIA development, much the same approach Adobe took with
    Flex.
    JulesLt3
    • RE: Eclipse

      Are they hoping there's going to be a lot of Java->.NET crossover? That seems like a tough nut to crack. We went after the Java folks in part because we thought we had a good UI story for their Java backends. Silverlight seems like a 100% .NET buy in.

      That could make sense, but I would think Mac support would get them more net developers than targeting Java. But maybe not.

      =Ryan
      ryanstewart
  • RE: Digging into the Silverlight 2 announcement

    Hey Ryan,
    I totally agree that competition pushes innovation but for
    Silverlight, I think it's too little too late.

    It seems like every time Microsoft moves and inch forward in
    the RIA arena, Adobe moves a mile.
    brandonthedeveloper
    • Perhaps you don't understand.

      Perhaps you don't understand what Silverlight really means to the .net community.

      With Silverlight 2.0 Microsoft can leverage the whole .net community of developers to start creating Silverlight apps.

      Silverlight is a lot more than just a Flash competitor. It creates a new synergy between various .net technologies like WPF and ASP.NET.

      To dismiss it as 'too little too late' simply shows your ignorance of the technology.
      mikefarinha
      • Oh, it's not all that hard to understand

        [i]Perhaps you don't understand what Silverlight really means to the .net community.[/i]

        Don't assume everyone is too thick to figure out that it's a "one world, one platform, one development environment" play.

        The whole point of MSSL is to move all display devices to Microsoft platforms, which increases the TAM for MS.NET developers. If you've based your business on MS.NET, that's a very good thing.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • ummm....

          I didn't 'assume that everyone is too thick' to figure it out.
          I was responding specifically to one person that dismissed Silverlight as 'too little too late.'
          mikefarinha
  • So go ahead

    [i]So if I can use the free version of arguably the best IDE out there to create Silverlight 2 apps, why do I want to use Eclipse? Hopefully ?soon? really does mean soon for Eclipse Silverlight support on the Mac.[/i]

    So use the VS free version on your Mac and quit complaining.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • RE: So go ahead

      If running an IDE in a virtual machine wasn't such a pain, that's exactly what I would do.

      =Ryan
      ryanstewart
  • RE: Digging into the Silverlight 2 announcement

    I am sick of installing the plug-in every time a new SilverLight press release comes out only to see something which can already be done on the net.
    Video Player Developer
    • Oh, everyone does that

      [i]I am sick of installing the plug-in every time a new SilverLight press release comes out only to see something which can already be done on the net.[/i]

      Ah, but you can't any more without the newest, latest, and greatest.

      It's really just like Flash: as soon as Adobe comes out with a new beta version, half of the sites on the Net that used to be playable stop working because they now require the absolute bleeding-edge variant (regardless of whether there's more than one platform supported.)

      I suspect that the content is fine either way, but the sites do version checks and refuse to cooperate unless you upgrade.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • There are reasons.

        Although it is a pain for the user there are very good reasons to move to newer platforms.

        Sometimes the user will see the improvements like speed increases or extra features.

        However most of the time there are backend improvements that benefit the software author. Such as improved coding language constructs (Like Generics in moving from .net 1.1 to .net 2.0)
        Perhaps better tool support in the new version.

        Yes we all could still be hand coding our HTML/CSS/Java Script... but some people perfer to acomplish more with less by using the latest and greatest tools.
        mikefarinha
        • I'm sure that those are very nice

          But they don't really apply to content that was previously available for the older versions, now do they?
          Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Adobe not good for business apps..

    And now, after 25 years in enterprise UI world, it looks like
    Silverlight will win. It's incredible. Most users in the
    enterprise need robust, fast UI's and that's why you see
    little Adobe Flex apps in the Enterprise mainstream user
    community where, like it or not, Microsoft dominate.

    What Adobe did was open the door, way open for
    Microsoft and I thank them for it. Adobe basically said,
    have a FAT client masquerading (sp) as thin and it's all
    you'll need. Microsoft haters jumped on the Adobe band-
    wagon but only one player dominates and knows how to
    do fat clients. - Microsoft. Silverlight is an awesome
    development tool for enterprise applications, with rapid
    response times and rich UI's... and in Visual Studio.

    Don't kid ourselves, Silverlight is FAT and there is
    NOTHING wrong with that because Web 2.0 apps (script)
    has gotton out of control.....

    Game, set and Match to Micrsoft. Adobe, stick to graphics
    showcases. Microsoft will win enterprise IT because
    enterprise business will demand Silverlight. It rocks.
    francis.carden@...
  • Microsoft releases Silverlight 2.0, nobody cares

    Microsoft today announced the release of version 2.0 its world-beating Silverlight multimedia platform for the Web. As a replacement for Adobe's Flash, it is widely considered utterly superfluous and of no interest to anyone who could be found.

    "We have a fabulous selection of content partners for Silverlight," announced Microsoft marketer Scott Guthrie on his blog today. "NBC for the Olympics, which delivered millions of new users to BitTorrent. The Democrat National Convention, which is fine because those Linux users are all Ron Paul weirdos anyway. It comes with rich frameworks, rich controls, rich networking support, a rich base class library, rich media support, oh God kill me now. My resumé's a car crash, Google won't call me back. My life is an exercise in futility. I'm the walking dead, man, the walking dead!"

    Silverlight was created by Microsoft to leverage its desktop monopoly on Windows, to work off the tremendous sales and popularity of Vista. Flash is present on a pathetic 96% of all computers connected to the Internet, whereas Silverlight downloads are into the triple figures.

    "But it's got DRM!" cried Guthrie. "Netflix loved it! And web developers love us too, after all we did for them with IE 6. Wait, come back! We'll put porn on it! Free porn!"

    Similar Microsoft initiatives include its XPS replacement for Adobe PDF, its HD Photo replacement for JPEG photographs and its earlier Liquid Motion attempt to replace Flash. Also, that CD-ROM format Vista defaults to which no other computers can read.

    In a Microsoft internal security sweep, Guthrie's own desktop was found to still be running Windows XP.

    (Original blog post: http://tinyurl.com/6rxgnd )
    DavidGerard