Microsoft: Silverlight will “Optimize Everywhere”

By  |  Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Microsoft wants Silverlight to be optimized for every platform that it runs on, said Brian Goldfarb, director of developer and user experience platforms at Microsoft, during an interview at the company’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) on Wednesday (Nov. 18).

Silverlight runs on Mac OS X and Windows; it is available on Linux through Mono Moonlight, an open source project that Microsoft supports. I also expect that Moonlight will be running on Android in near future. Goldfarb explained that it was not enough for Silverlight to “run everywhere,” but that it should “light up” specific platforms.

Microsoft needs to consider screen size and other aspects of a device, which is particularly relevant in the mobile space, he explained. There are also mobile platform features such as SMS, phone dialing, and address books that Silverlight could exploit, he added. That would allow Silverlight applications to be customized for smartphones.

Silverlight 4, which Microsoft announced at PDC, will allow applications to access Windows features, hardware, and the local file system. That allows devices such as Webcams to accessed by Silverlight. However, the same level of optimization is not currently being offering for other platforms.

Microsoft will give Silverlight “trusted” access local resources on Macs, meaning that all features work except for COM integration, Goldfarb said. More work is needed to extend Silverlight for non-Windows platforms, Goldfarb admitted, saying that the company was “thinking around” the concept of extensions.

COM is a Windows technology that enables applications that may have been written in different languages to communicate with each other. Microsoft Office makes heavy use of COM. “We are actively evaluating the best way to get COM like features on other platforms,” Goldfarb wrote in a follow up e-mail.

To that end, the company has started an open source project called Managed Extensibility Framework for .NET and Silverlight. The Mono team is working on an equivalent project, Goldfarb said. He expects that Mono will “accelerate dramatically” in the near future, delivering more features to Linux users.

I expect that anything but Windows will be a second-class Silverlight citizen for some time. But Microsoft is making strides toward delivering an optimized experience on other platforms, and in doing so, will gain a foothold on the Web beyond Windows.


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. ReynaldoRiv Says:

    Is it just me or is Microsoft slowly turning into a better company? Windows 7, that Notebook tablet, the Zune HD, Surface. It’s almost as if they want to change their public image.

    I still wouldn’t touch IE or an Xbox360 with a 40ft poll, but at least they’re trying!

  2. tom b Says:

    It’s just you. Win 7 really isn’t anything new– still not UNIX or anything. Zune HD? Still not an iPod Touch; and MSFT has no coherent mobile strategy.

  3. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    There is a vast difference between what MS say it will do, and what it is actually doing. While they announce they will optimize silverlight, that could just as well mean they optimize it a teeny tiny bit. Just like they said IE9 will be A LOT better in webstandars, will in fact it only gets 32% on ACID3 (which IS better than 20% in IE8… so they aren’t lying, but it’s still bad – Fx2.0 had 52%!)

    But yeah, MS IS doing some things right lately: while I prefer my iPod touch, the ZUNE HD is a very neat music player, and Windows 7 did make me forget the Vista era of horror.

  4. IcyFog Says:

    I won’t install Silverlight on any computer I own. No way Microsoft is getting it’s claws on me.
    Adobe Flash is almost as bad, but because Silverlight is a Microsoft product it’s worse.
    Not a fan of either one. I hate Flash based sites, and there’s now way I will give Mircrosoft traction.

  5. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    @IcyFog: “because Silverlight is a Microsoft product it’s worse” is just a downright stupid argument. Even though I really dislike flash and am in favour of pushing webstandards such as HTML5 and CSS animation instead of using plug-ins, I like Silverlight because at last flash has a competitor!

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