Microsoft buffs Silverlight for HTML5 video contest
'We're more consistent. And we're here'
Microsoft has tried to justify its Silverlight media player in the age of HTML5.
Brad Becker, Microsoft director of product management, says that Silverlight is not designed to replace HTML5. The closed-source player, he contends, lets you build "premium" experiences.
Also, Becker says, Silverlight delivers "consistency" and "timing" for those looking to offer online video, games, and consumer, business, and enterprise applications.
You'd expect Microsoft to justify Silverlight, just not so weakly.
On the "consistency" front, Microsoft says that whereas HTLM5 and CSS3 "have traditionally had a lot of issues with variation between browsers," Silverlight gives you the same experience "everywhere". But HTML and CSS are ubiquitous web standards, and HTML5 and CSS3 are likely to slide in right behind the existing versions. Furthermore, there's a really big question over "why" you need Silverlight's 2D and 3D graphics when a talented developer or creative can work with SVG, CSS, or Canvas.
As for "timing," Becker said RIA addicts should use Silverlight because there's still no date for HTML5. In other words, don't delay: join team Silverlight for the big win. Microsoft has delivered four versions of Silverlight in the time it has taken (so far) to build HTML5.
Steve Jobs' anti-Adobe HTML5 cheerleading aside, nobody's really waiting for the W3C's official sign off on HTML5. Sublimevideo already has an HTML5 video player – which also claims "consistency" in any browser and on any platform – while Brightcove has launched an HTML5 video service.
Real-world customers are also going to HTML5: the New York Times is offering HTML 5 content in its iPhone and iPad apps. Brightcove's customers include the Showtime network, Reebok, Staples, Discovery Channel, and Virgin Media Television.
Others, such as airline Virgin America, have seen the potential HTML5 offers for their sites as an alternative to Adobe's Flash Player on certain web pages. In short, they wanna reach customers using iPads and iPhones.
When it comes to video, claiming HTML5 lets you build "premium" media experiences is a busted argument. It's an argument Microsoft has used to notch high-profile customers. NBC streamed the most recent Winter and Summer Olympics using versions of Silverlight.
Another Silverlight user is Netflix. But it should be noted that Netflix founder, chairman, and chief executive Reed Hastings is a member of Microsoft's board.
Where Microsoft can claim an edge over HTML5 is the work it's done to tie its media player back into the Microsoft developer, data, and runtime stack for business apps.
As Becker highlighted, among Silverlight's strengths are a set of 60 pre-built controls for Windows and .NET, the ability to build apps using C# and Visual Basic, integration with Microsoft's COM and data support back into Microsoft's LINQ architecture.
After the initial excitement over Silverlight's one to four, it's hard to see what happens next for Microsoft's media player. A lightweight after thought of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), the catch up to Adobe's Flash is largely done and Microsoft's finally got a really good, rich answer to Flash.
It's a player that will keep Microsoft shops happy and coding with .NET, and gives partners building interface tools a software that puts a slick, interactive wrapper on business applications. Silverlight's also being deployed on Windows Phone 7, to give existing .NET programmers a new target platform and to – again – elbow past Flash in market share.
The campaign, now, is one for market share: signing up more flagship adopters like NBC while devs pump out more content. The end point: critical mass. Becker's arguments are the latest shot in this campaign.
Positioning Silverlight as a richer, faster, or more reliable alternative to HTML5 is a weak – and late – response to Jobs' boosting of HTML5 against Flash. Becker has fallen into the same trap of Jobs, by focusing on video in HTML5, when the spec is so much more.
It would have been better to talk about Silverlight's potential against Flash in business as a wrapper for client-side apps with data integration to the Microsoft back end rather paint Silverlight as the alternative to HTML5 on the web. ®
Re: Is Reg supported by some anti (or pro) XYZ/ABC organization?
I know I'm the new guy around here, but I think that after four or five months I would have figured out if there's a super-secret shadow cabal pumping out hidden messages to the masses via The Register's editorial control. Quite the opposite. I think The Register gives its authors a remarkable amount of freedom. To date I've not been told once which product or company to write about. I've not been asked to go easy on an individual or corporation, nor have I been asked to really put the clamps on either.
Other than my editor’s valiant attempts to elevate my writing skill beyond the linguistic equivalent of banging two rocks together, I seem free to write what I wish. Now admittedly, this is anecdotal evidence. It’s possible that there is a huge conspiracy and I’m just not in on it. I prefer to take the Occam’s razor approach; the simplest explanation is likely the truth.
Rather than sponsor driven editorial dictates, I think it’s far more plausible that The Register does exactly what it says on the tin: bites the hand that feeds IT. The readers it attracts, as well as the folks that it employs are the kind of people who take the piss out of everything and everyone all the time.
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Preferably, the organisation as a whole should have the chutzpah, resources and time to dig a little deeper than the surface impressions and do some real investigative snooping around from time to time. Sadly, as we move into the era of “citizen journalism” in which noone pays for the media they consume, outlets that have the resources for this are fewer and farther between. Personally, I think El Reg does remarkably well at looking past the fluffy PR pieces that are thrown in their direction and sniffing around for the larger picture.
Of course, no news organisation in the world has the capacity to employ only investigative journalists, so they also have a cadre of reporters. Even the investigative folks have to do a little basic reporting. Reporting is exactly what it sounds like: reporting the facts of an event and leaving it up to the reader to make any inferences they wish. Somewhere in the mix you get opinion pieces as well; these are usually reasonably well researched and written in order to spark thought and debate. Overall, The Register does a damned fine job of maintaining a balance between these.
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Everyone deserves a right to their opinion, but accusation of being bought and paid for venture into the territory of insulting. These are good people, sir; they all work honestly and hard to do a great job. The grousing of commenters can make writing feel thankless. The gods only know how the people who moderate things around here don’t go absolutely nuts.
I could go on. I’ve had such a terrible day at my day job today that I would like to. Retrospectively, I realise that a page-and-a-half nuclear diatribe is a completely disproportionate response to your comment. I apologise, but I really needed to vent some frustration and your comment struck a nerve.
I received my very first “you’re a paid corporate shill” comment to one my articles not too long ago. It still stings a little; I’d like to think that if I was a paid corporate shill I wouldn’t be so poor. I’d also like to think that the cost of my ethics is more than a little bit higher than anyone out there would be willing to pay. Somehow, I suspect that’s true of everyone here.
Surely they didn't actually say this?
Microsoft says that whereas HTLM5 and CSS3 "have traditionally had a lot of issues with variation between browsers,"
Yes, traditionally your site will look lovely on every web browser you test it with, except IE, which fucks it up and makes you have to go in and hack the crap out of what you've done.... I expect no different with these updated standards!
So much inaccuracy
To the author - Silverlight is not a video player.
To Joe Greer - IE6 is 10 years old. Sure, corporates are still running it but MS wants them to stop. However, if corporates had gone Apple as you suggest then presumably they'd be running on 10-year-old Macs with PowerPC which Apple dropped years ago. Apple's product line changes very frequently - how is that meant to fit in with a corporate policy?
To Nick - Silverlight is not dependent upon .NET. It runs in FireFox, Safari, Chrome and IE and produces the same results in all places and it runs on OS X too. Silverlight installs (in about 5MB) with everything it needs, it does not depend on any additional pieces such as .NET or some Windows Media codec or similar. Clearly, it can't because those things are not present on OS X.
To Nick - the idea that Silverlight is linked to anything in Office or Sharepoint is ludicrous.
To Herbert - interesting that you think that Silverlight feels like a "dirty" solution. Silverlight was designed to build RIA applications whereas HTML is a document markup language which is being bent in every which way in order to attempt to make it suitable for applications that it was never intended for. Now...which is the "dirty" hack here?