Microsoft officially 'extends support' for Novell's Silverlight Linux port

Microsoft announced on September 5 that it is officially has "extended support" for Novell's port of Silverlight to Linux, the project Novell has christened "Moonlight." What does that mean, exactly?

On September 5, Microsoft announced that the 1.0 version of its Silverlight competitor to Flash is now done and the final bits are available via the Web to any and all users.

Microsoft also announced it is officially has "extended support" for Novell's port of Silverlight to Linux, the project Novell has christened "Moonlight." Novell has been working in earnest on the Silverlight port to Linux since April. In June, Novell showed off Moonlight, claiming it took only 21 days to build the working prototype.

Given that Novell already has developed Moonlight, what does Microsoft's official backing get Novell, at this point?

Novell vice president for developer platforms Miguel de Icaza itemized some of the terms and conditions in a September 5 blog posting:

  • "Microsoft will give Novell access to the test suites for Silverlight to ensure that we have a compatible specification. The same test suite that Microsoft uses for Silverlight.
  • "Microsoft will give us access to the Silverlight specifications: details that might be necessary to implement 1.0, beyond what is currently published on the web; and specifications on the 1.1 version of Silverlight as it is updated.
  • "Microsoft will make the codecs for video and audio available to users of Moonlight from their web site. The codecs will be binary codecs, and they will only be licensed for use with Moonlight on a web browser (sorry, those are the rules for the Media codecs.)"

Novell will be the one to implement Silverlight 1.0 and the follow-on 1.1 release due in the summer of 2008, "and will distribute it for the major Linux distributions at the time of the shipment, de Icaza blogged. "We will offer some kind of one-click install for Linux users well as RPM and DEB packages for the major distros and operating systems."

Brian Goldfarb, Microsoft's Lead Product Manager of Web Platform and Tools, said Microsoft is planning to back Moonlight via joint marketing, as well, once the final version of the Linux port releases.

Unlike the case with Mono, Novell's port of .Net to Linux -- where Microsoft had more of a love/hate relationship (love or hate depending on whether you were a Microsoft employee who saw Linux as relatively tolerable or cancerous) -- with Moonlight, Microsoft is leaving nothing to interpretation with Silverlight. The corporate word: Novell's Silverlight port to Linux is something to be embraced.

To what do you attribute the differences in Microsoft's official stance toward Mono vs. Silverlight?

Update: I found a September 5 post on Microsoft's Port25 blog interesting. Director of Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab Sam Ramji tells quite a different story about the extent to which the Moonlight and Microsoft teams are working together on the Silverlight Linux port. Ramji says there's been a great deal of work done in tandem by the two teams. That isn't the story Novell is telling. Nor is it the one Microsoft's Developer Division is telling.


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