Is an offline version of Silverlight coming at MIX next week?

Is an offline version of Silverlight coming at MIX next week?

Summary: There have been rumors for a while and today TechCrunch says they've been hearing that an offline version of Silverlight is coming to compete with Adobe AIR. Currently, despite a lot of comparisons in the tech media world, Silverlight and AIR have absolutely nothing to do with each other.


There have been rumors for a while and today TechCrunch says they've been hearing that an offline version of Silverlight is coming to compete with Adobe AIR. Currently, despite a lot of comparisons in the tech media world, Silverlight and AIR have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Silverlight competes with Flash Player, a product that has been around for a very long time. But maybe that's changing.

What they'll most likely do is release an "offline" version of Silverlight that uses SQLite. It would be something like Google Gears where they install the database with the runtime then developers can write data to it and take their Silverlight applications offline. They still live in the browser so in this sense, it's not quite a 1-1 competitor with Adobe AIR, it's a competitor to Google Gears. There are definitely bits of competition there because one of the big value propositions of AIR is offline access, but there's a lot more too it as well because it's a cross-platform desktop runtime, something I can't see Microsoft doing.

The other angle here is something Michael alludes to and Nick Carr talks about, the "web-apps strategy". Nick says he's hearing that Microsoft will soon start to talk about how Microsoft will follow through on their Software plus Services strategy and bring some of their great desktop properties online. I'm surprised that people think this is news because anyone who's tracking the RIA space has seen this coming for 2 years. And don't think the timing is a coincidence. What does Microsoft's online strategy and MIX have in common? Silverlight.

There is one single reason Silverlight exists - because Microsoft needed a platform to deploy very rich, desktop-like applications in the browser that they controlled. You can talk about the "war" between Adobe and Microsoft all you want, but Microsoft simply couldn't afford to roll out rich, online versions of Office or their other properties on someone else's technology. They saw how powerful Flash was getting and they had to do something. That something was Silverlight. They got a first version that focused on video out to generate some buzz and get people talking while they worked on a version that was actually able to deploy applications like Flash can. By most accounts, Silverlight 2 is going to be it. They'll finally have a version for the public to play with at MIX and with that piece of the puzzle in place they can start really going after the online world with their wealth of properties.

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft, Software Development

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  • silverlight vs flash

    can you please come-up with and article listing the adv. and dis.adv of both technologies comparing each other. I think silverlight is more matured in terms of programming/ development bcoz it provides support for all .NET languages and is managed code, when compared to flash scripting.
    • RE: silverlight vs flash

      I'm not sure I'd be the best person to do this since I work for Adobe, but I may try and
      whip something up after MIX. If you consider .NET more mature, then that might be a
      true statement for you. Silverlight is based on .NET while ActionScript is based on

      But Flash has been around much longer, so it's a lot more mature as a technology
      than Silverlight.
      • No it's not..

        I'll ignore the misinformed Silverlight jabs as that seems to be
        your approach these days "Praise AIR/Flash, denounce Silverlight
        under the guise of an agnostic blogger legacy".

        Now to sit here and swallow the Flash is "more mature".

        Please.. I've been around in this space longer than you, and I can
        defend that in an open forum point for point with you if you like...

        Define maturity? The entire developer / designer workflow story
        today/yesterday has been poor form. The fact I've sat down with
        Macromedia/Adobe staffers for years and outlined that it needs
        to pickup its game or face more stalled growth, went ignored.

        Now Microsoft are in the space, suddenly it's become a focal
        point for Adobe?

        Flash took roughly 8 iterations to get to where it is today, but it's
        far from being mature. You're confusing feature prowess and
        fumbling around for years in the industry as being a definition of
        "mature". Maturity is when you build a platform that 2/3 of the
        world use, something .NET has today.

        Silverlight and Flash have a lot more ahead of it and i wouldn't
        call one a winner as that is just ignorant.

        Silverlight's existence wasn't just to challenge Flash in this space,
        it's existence was to continue the story around .NET investment
        and provide our millions (not thousands) of customer base a
        place to move forward. Macromedia/Adobe in the past have made
        it clear two things:

        J2EE or bust
        LiveCycle or bust.

        Something that obviously doesn't compliment .NET? There was a
        gap/blindspot, so we filled it. Care to elaborate on why .NET
        remoting was dropped?

        I'd say the world waited for Macromedia/Adobe to do something
        with Flash for all these years, to follow through with the RIA
        gospel outlined by Jeremy Allaire in 2002 and well, we grew weary
        and bored - especially after watching folks via Macromedia try
        and push Flex as an enterprise solution at $15k per CPU - which
        we told the product teams was a stupid idea and sure enough in
        the end the product teams figured out the obvious (little to late
        may I add)

        Flash has been fumbling it's way to the position it's in now and
        whilst Silverlight is fairly new, the amount of tooling, framework
        etc that has been built in under a year by my calculation exceeds
        Flash's trajectory of evolution (provided we keep the pace). We
        have a larger journey ahead, but we have years of maturity under
        our belt from the lessons learned in building an comprehensive
        .NET ecosystem.

        my 2c.

        Scott Barnes
  • RE: Is an offline version of Silverlight coming at MIX next week?

    I don't think so.

    "embeded WebKit" is the most important highlight point in AIR.

    but silverlight offline? would it embed browser render? I think NO. they had IE, but there's not IE on Linux, so they would not embed IE.
    and they would not embed other browser render because they produce IE...
    so silverlight will fail
    • Hmm

      Microsoft aren't building the Linux version of Silverlight. The Mono/Moonlight project is doing that, and they could use any rendering technology that suites them.
  • Some comments.

    In a certain sense, Microsoft arrived at Silverlight in the reverse process of Adobe arriving at AIR. By that I mean, AIR is way to build desktop apps using web technologies, where as Silverlight is way to build web apps with desktop technologies.

    Why would Microsoft need a specific competitor to AIR when it already has a vastly more capable and mature way of building desktop apps in .Net?

    Its also worth noting that there is will be a good deal of compatibility between Silverlight and WPF. Take a look at ScottGu's recent tutorial on this blog. The final part should how simple it was to take a silverlight app and make it into a desktop top. People have described Silverlight 2.0 as WPF for the browser, but its more accurate to say its a .Net runtime for the browser.

    As for the offline support in Silverlight, I think this would be an interesting addition, but I think its more important from Microsoft to get Silverlight 2.0 RTM'd, at the moment.

    As for "web apps strategy", this is really nothing new for Microsoft. There are a wealth of technologies already in .Net to support this, for example their ClickOnce deployment stuff. (Also worth nothing that thy have Live Write desktop blogging tool, and Live Photo Gallery).
    • RE: Some comments.

      Yup, that sums it up pretty well. In fact, I think a closer link with WPF was something
      they were waiting for before rolling out a lot of web apps. Microsoft has something
      very cool in WPF and if they can extend part of that to the web browser, it becomes
      easier to create applications on both sides of the fence. Supposedly Silverlight 2 will
      provide that.
      • And, it gives MS the mandatory Windows dependencies. That is one big

        advantage for Adobe - it is all completely cross platform.

        With MS, the cash cows are so important, that they MUST lock products to Windows, even thought it retards adoption.
  • hear hear

    What TheTruthIsOutThere said. My first thought on reading this article was, but
    why would you need silverlight when there's .net?

    FYI, Adobe developers have been able to develop applications for years using
    Flash. They just had to embed it in 3rd party apps that allowed the crucial file i/o
    that Adobe necessarily restricted considering the apps were supposed to be
    browser based. AIR is first and foremost a competitor to Zinc and SwfStudio. AIR
    and Silverlight may be the surface reasons why flash and .net are suddenly
    competitors, but the real reason is that microsoft houses finally got the message
    that flash has been fully oop for the last 5 or 6 years *and* puts no restrictions on
    the visual presentation of the app. Silverlight is playing catch up to a superior
  • Rewind to Microsoft-FoxPro

    days when coders would ask not "how does that work?" but "how does that NOT work?"

    Enter MS Silverlight.
  • RE: Is an offline version of Silverlight coming at MIX next week?

    This is a very self-serving "article" by an Adobe employee. Let's see...Adobe just relased 1.0 of AIR last week. So Microsoft MUST be getting ready to announce an offline version of Silverlight at MIX because...well, obviously Adobe has the right strategy. Maybe not. Some might argue that AIR is just another Web browser with offline capabilities and Microsoft already has better technology (.NET/WPF) so why would they bother?

    You're half right that Silverlight doesn't compete with AIR. Air competes with MacOS (which is better), Win32 (which is better) and .NET (which is better). Silverlight competes with Flash...sort of...except that it was designed form the beginning to have a good programming model whereas Flash was designed to draw pretty pictures. Sorry to sound so cynical but I usually like your postings. This one seems very very self-serving and not up the (sometimes low) journalistic standards of even ZDNET.
    • RE: RE: Is an offline version of Silverli...

      I wasn't really trying to imply that Silverlight would have it "right" by doing an offline version. I think the value for AIR is much more than offline access so I try not to mention that feature whenever I can.

      You're right that AIR competes with Win32, MacOS, and .NET, but "better" is a subjective term. AIR uses web technologies, so for a lot of people, it's an easy way to build desktop apps. Native code/operating systems have more features, but powerful is too subjective.
  • My Prediction For Mix08.

    I predict that Microsoft will announce plans to take Silverlight though ISO (perhaps via ECMA).

    A lot of it may already be covered ISO standards, but they'll ensure the whole thing is standardized, and covenants not to sue put in place, etc.

    I have no evidence whatsoever. It's just a gut feeling.
    • RE: My Prediction For Mix08....

      That would be very, very interesting. I wonder how much of that they could do before announcing it? Maybe they would just be able to announce their intentions at MIX then start the process.
      • .Net CLR is already an ISO Standard

        So, a huge chuck of what they are doing is covered by a standard. But important stuff like the WPF UI stuff, and XAML are not.

        I dont think you get something made standard overnight, but you can always announce your intent.
  • MS already has their AIR - it's called Smart Client

    MS already has their AIR technology. It's called Smart Client!

    With .NET you can easily build a Smart Client application that does everything AIR does and more. Run off the web, Rich interface, employ web-services, run online or offline, auto update itself. If anything, AIR is a knock off of MS's Smart Client technology...
  • Silverlight is neat but...

    How in the world does Microsoft plan to take over Flash's grip? It'll be interesting to see how they decide to tackle this, Flash is pretty well ingrained in the internet and replacing it with an alternative odda be anything but a easy task. But with all the money Microsoft has perhaps they'll be able to pull such a stunt off, the real question is we the consumers, want Silverlight over Flash? I'm just not sure yet and hope Microsoft gives us time to get used to Silverlight before aggressively promoting it....

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach
    • Well, its not "either/or"

      Flash and Silverlight is just content for a web page. No reason you can't use both on one page. No one has to abandon Flash to use Silverlight.

      I think Silverlight will appeal to a lot of developers in a way Flash doesnt. It is of course a natural for .Net developers. But with support for Python and Ruby, developers will be able to use these langauges for client side coding.