Microsoft Silverlight: It’s Like Flash without an Installed Base

By now, you’ve probably read plenty about Microsoft’s new Silverlight platform and how it’s going be a major player in the coming year. While I don’t doubt that Silverlight will be significant, I have a very tough time seeing how MS can overcome the installed base that Adobe has with Flash. And I’m not just talking about the installed base of the Flash player on multiple platforms, but also the installed base of content creation applications from Adobe and the mindshare Adobe has amongst creative professionals.

Microsoft’s real challenge with Silverlight will be in content creation tools arena. Currently, the only content creation tool that is capable of authoring Silverlight content is Microsoft’s own Expression Studio, or a pre-release of Visual Studio.NET. By Comparison, you can author and publish Flash content using several of Adobe’s products as well as many third party applications. Adobe is very well entrenched among the creative crowd. Having worked with many different creative firms over the years, you’d be very hard pressed to to find a interactive shop that did not use an Adobe or Macromedia product. Not to mention, most of these companies were nearly all Mac-based.

So far, I haven’t seen many takers for Expression Studio. The fact that this is a Windows-only product should be seen as a detriment to the Silverlight platform. A hardcore creative professional who uses a Mac is never going to give their Mac up willingly. Second, if they did have to give their Mac’s up and forced to use Expression Studio, Microsoft needs to be able to answer the following questions:

  1. How do I open my Photoshop files in Expression Studio?
  2. Do my Photoshop files get imported with all of their layers if I can bring them into Expression?
  3. Which version of Expression authors video like After Effects?
  4. Can I import Silverlight files into After Effects as vectors with alpha channels preserved and batch render WMV files with embedded cue points?

MS has a lot more work to do that just releasing a player for both Windows and Mac OS X. They also need content creation tools on the Mac if they want to be a player in the rich media space. It’s very difficult to recommend a rich-media platform that prohibits you from creating content on your platform of choice.

Additionally, Microsoft hasn’t shown creative professionals that Sliverlight is any better than Flash or Flex. So far, Silverlight looks like nothing more than a Flash “me-too” product that can do some 3-D and HD Video. From a developer perspective, it is much more compelling that that. But on the surface, it’s just a Flash rip-off. Here’s a short list of other reasons why the Mac camp won’t adopt Silverlight:

  • Internet Explorer
  • ActiveX
  • Windows Media Player
  • Visio

Given Microsoft’s track record of killing decent products for Mac OS, choosing an MS-controlled technology usually means that they’ll kill it somewhere down the road and leave Mac users out in the cold. I think Flash is here to stay.

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6 thoughts on “Microsoft Silverlight: It’s Like Flash without an Installed Base

  1. Microsoft is a big company with short sight. Some no-name middle manager somewhere somehow convinced someone two steps above him that they could gain a certain minimum percentage of the rich media plugin market share with a minimal r&d expense based on massive IE installed base. Of course said middle manager would only be involved with the project long enough to see a minimum number of beta units successfully installed because some minimal milestone he set for himself would be achieved and he would be promptly promoted to the middle management team of another slightly bigger project (maybe Windows 7 or whatever they are calling it) while real results such as a finished product and content authoring tools become someone else’s problem. I really didn’t think that anything could possibly be any worse than Quark Interactive Designer but Microsoft bested them. While Microsoft and Apple have gotten in bed with each other and seem to be relatively happy, Microsoft has proven to be the selfish lover. Hands down Microsoft is just a big goddamn waste of time for anything other than web surfing or checking your email, oh yeah…and SPREADSHEETS!!! And as long as they have the masses hooked on that they can keep selling them these fly-by-night snake oil ideas.

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  2. Microsoft is a big company with short sight. Some no-name middle manager somewhere somehow convinced someone two steps above him that they could gain a certain minimum percentage of the rich media plugin market share with a minimal r&d expense based on massive IE installed base. Of course said middle manager would only be involved with the project long enough to see a minimum number of beta units successfully installed because some minimal milestone he set for himself would be achieved and he would be promptly promoted to the middle management team of another slightly bigger project (maybe Windows 7 or whatever they are calling it) while real results such as a finished product and content authoring tools become someone else’s problem. I really didn’t think that anything could possibly be any worse than Quark Interactive Designer but Microsoft bested them. While Microsoft and Apple have gotten in bed with each other and seem to be relatively happy, Microsoft has proven to be the selfish lover. Hands down Microsoft is just a big goddamn waste of time for anything other than web surfing or checking your email, oh yeah…and SPREADSHEETS!!! And as long as they have the masses hooked on that they can keep selling them these fly-by-night snake oil ideas.

    Like

  3. installed base doh – if only they owned the OS then they could build it in to all new PC’s and put it on their update site.

    wait….

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  4. installed base doh – if only they owned the OS then they could build it in to all new PC’s and put it on their update site.

    wait….

    Like

  5. You are right about the creative products, I do both creative work and am heavily involved in .NET programming. The Adobe creative products whip Expression hands down no contest no argument. Here is the problem. Flash = Java, Java = crap. Sorry thats just the way it is I have no affinity nor do I recieve a check from Microsoft, I program java server side on solaris on a daily basis and I like it (for server side), and I like eclipse (Java IDE) but when it comes to developing client side applications, or applications hosted on a windows server, .NET is superior in every aspect. Microsoft really pulled ahead of the crowd with .NET. Expression blends (no pun intended) into .NET seamlessly meaning I can create a decent creative front end and write the functionaility of the program (ie. make my pretty designs actually useful) in C# which is a dream. I have used the FLEX framework for Flash and it SUCKS. So flash is nice, I like the design environment but I can do nothing with it after that. Its great for developing graphic content not Rich Internet Applications, they are way behind. Adobe must do a better job with regards to programing API’s. They should start with MONO as it is cross platform and could easily interface with .NET. Bottom line, if Adobe and Apple don’t drop the strict Java adherence, they will always be Ipods, and Iphones (no problem with this at all they make billions of dollars), and Flash will always be for annoying banners with flying words talking about synergy advertising some new widget. Java was a good concept that is going down with SUN (A company with terrible moral, constant pink slips, and lack of vision). I actually think Adobe stands to gain a tremendous advantage if they concentrate on the UI and leave the programatic functionality abstract, so it can interface easily with .NET technology.

    Like

  6. You are right about the creative products, I do both creative work and am heavily involved in .NET programming. The Adobe creative products whip Expression hands down no contest no argument. Here is the problem. Flash = Java, Java = crap. Sorry thats just the way it is I have no affinity nor do I recieve a check from Microsoft, I program java server side on solaris on a daily basis and I like it (for server side), and I like eclipse (Java IDE) but when it comes to developing client side applications, or applications hosted on a windows server, .NET is superior in every aspect. Microsoft really pulled ahead of the crowd with .NET. Expression blends (no pun intended) into .NET seamlessly meaning I can create a decent creative front end and write the functionaility of the program (ie. make my pretty designs actually useful) in C# which is a dream. I have used the FLEX framework for Flash and it SUCKS. So flash is nice, I like the design environment but I can do nothing with it after that. Its great for developing graphic content not Rich Internet Applications, they are way behind. Adobe must do a better job with regards to programing API’s. They should start with MONO as it is cross platform and could easily interface with .NET. Bottom line, if Adobe and Apple don’t drop the strict Java adherence, they will always be Ipods, and Iphones (no problem with this at all they make billions of dollars), and Flash will always be for annoying banners with flying words talking about synergy advertising some new widget. Java was a good concept that is going down with SUN (A company with terrible moral, constant pink slips, and lack of vision). I actually think Adobe stands to gain a tremendous advantage if they concentrate on the UI and leave the programatic functionality abstract, so it can interface easily with .NET technology.

    Like

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