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Microsoft Silverlight: 10 reasons to love it, 10 reasons to hate it

Four-letter word

The cons

  1. If Apple won’t even allow Flash on the iPhone, what chance is there for Silverlight?
  2. Silverlight is late to the game. Flash is mature, well trusted and ubiquitous. Silverlight 2 only comes out of beta in the Autumn (we hope). It is the version we care about - the one that includes the .NET runtime - and will still lack support on mobile devices, even Windows Mobile, though this is promised at some unspecified later date.
  3. The design tools are Expression Blend and Expression Design - but who uses them? The design world uses Adobe PhotoShop.
  4. While having solution compatibility between Expression Blend and Visual Studio sounds good, it’s actually a hassle having to use two separate tools, especially when there are niggling incompatibilities, as in the current beta.
  5. No support for the popular H.264 video codec. Instead hi-def video for Silverlight must be in VC-1, which is less common.
  6. It’s another effort to promote proprietary technology rather than open standards.
  7. Yes Linux will be supported via Moonlight, but when? It seems likely that the Linux implementation will always lag behind the Windows and Mac releases.
  8. Silverlight supports SOAP web services, or REST provided you don’t use PUT or DELETE, but doesn’t have an optimized binary protocol like Adobe’s ActionScript Message Format (AMF), which likely means slower performance in some scenarios.
  9. Silverlight is a browser-only solution, whereas Flash can be deployed for the desktop using Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR). Having said that, yes I have seen this.
  10. You have to develop on Windows. This is particularly a problem for the Expression design tools, since designers have a disproportionately high number of Macs.

This article originally appeared in ITWriting.

Copyright © 2007, ITWriting.com.

A freelance journalist since 1992, Tim Anderson specializes in programming and internet development topics. He has columns in Personal Computer World and IT Week, and also contributes regularly to The Register. He writes from time to time for other periodicals including Developer Network Journal Online, and Hardcopy.

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