Admiral Ackbar Says: Beware of Silver Lights

The internet is killing Microsoft these days. Ever since man climbed down from a tree, learned how to walk upright and figured out how to write AJAX apps, the number of chairs thrown at unsuspecting developers in Redmond has been climbing exponentially. Let’s face it – the interweb is the great equalizer. It levels the playing field – because it doesn’t really matter whether you use Windows, Apple or Linux to access your Gmail, Google Docs and your Facebook. Your desktop is slowly becoming a thin client for the ever-richer web applications.

This is a direct threat to Microsoft’s defacto monopoly – and they are fighting back, the only way they know how – by implementing a vendor lock in strategy. Silverlight is just that. It is an attempt to create a Flash like plugin that will run great on Windows, somewhat acceptably on Apple, and not at all on Linux/Unix based systems. Yes, I know there is Moonlight but I suspect it will always be lagging behind the MS releases, and it will come loaded with proprietary codex that won’t be bundled with the public releases.

Same old shenanigans – you know how it works. Besides, we have been there before. Remember how we couldn’t play Youtubes for a while there because we were stuck with Flash 7 while Windows and Apple folks enjoyed versions 8 and 9? I remember and I Adobe didn’t even have a vested interest in putting Linux down. They just didn’t care enough. Microsoft on the other hand is poised to profit if the plugin doesn’t work well on other platforms. The internet leveled the playing field, and they are planning to tilt it again by getting into these huge Silverlight contracts for the government, libraries and educational institutions.

I’m writing about this now, because my heard of nooblets (and I tell you, heading cats is an enjoyable past time compared to herding throngs of flabbergasted luserati) started asking about it. They want to know what the “Silver Lights” (or “Silver Flight” or “Sliver Lite”) are, and why do they “pop up on Microsoft” (whatever that means). And when they ask, I simply pull out my pocket version of this very image:

IT'S A TRAP!

Yes, I keep Admiral Ackbar in my pocket especially for those occasions when I must condescendingly point out an obvious trap to someone. It also works for identifying tarps. I like the blue tarp the best. :P

It’s a trap my friends. Don’t be fooled by their promises of a 100% compatibile moonlight release. It’s called moonlight, because you will be up all at night, and will end up howling at the moon in despair if you try to compile it and get it working on a linux box that does not run some version of Novell on it.

This new and exciting technology is nothing else than a vendor lock-in for the web. And I’m worried about that because I’m a linux user, and my prospective progeny will also likely be linux users. And I don’t want to find out one day that I have to sit at the “gaming box” to access tone governmental or educational websites because Mono folks are dropping the ball on Moonlight.

This is not just some silly rant of a random linux loon. It is a real concern, and the great state of Cali-fornication is also taking it very seriously – to the point where in October of 07 they asked the District Judge to extend the Microsoft anti-trust settlement for another 5 years – precisely because of issues surrounding Silverlight.

I just want you to keep this in mind. When your boss asks you if you should invest in that “Silvered Lights” platform, you just whip out your Ackbar and yell at top of your lungs: “IT’S A TARP!”

[tags]silverlight, microsoft, monopoly, ackbar, trap, tarp, vendor lock in[/tags]

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4 Responses to Admiral Ackbar Says: Beware of Silver Lights

  1. Adam Kahtava CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Silverlight takes Windows desktop programming to the web browser through a clever browser plug-in. It will be popular with the Windows Desktop Developer crowed (the ones clueless to web development), and the ASP.NET crowd (the ones that haven’t figured out ASP.NET uses angle brackets). If Silverlight can fix it’s accessibility short comings, then it will be adopted for internal applications by the government, libraries and educational institutions. This could be an improvement from many of the hideous internal Java / VB 6 applications within these organizations. I don’t think we’ll see Silverlight used in any large fantastic, innovative applications targeted at the masses – we’ll never see a successful Facebook like app in Silverlight. Because, it is a framework, and frameworks are typically behind the wave in terms of new technology, innovation, and performance. Silverlight sits on top of all the existing browser technologies, so for a web developer that’s intimate with the browser, it doesn’t offer much – if it could offer compiled JavaScript then there might be something to look at.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    [quote post=”2326″]If Silverlight can fix it’s accessibility short comings, then it will be adopted for internal applications by the government, libraries and educational institutions. This could be an improvement from many of the hideous internal Java / VB 6 applications within these organizations.[/quote]

    Ah, but that’s exactly what I fear. That is where the trap is. It will be improvement in usability for you, because you are running Vista. It will be a step back for me – or even a hurdle that I will have to jump over because I’m running Ubuntu.

    If Silverlight is adopted by goverment and educational institutions I may likely need to start a virtual machine with an instance of Windows XP in it, just so that I can fill out some important form.

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  3. Adam Kahtava CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    [quote post=”2326″]That is where the trap is. It will be improvement in usability for you, because you are running Vista.[/quote]

    I’m saying that Silverlight will be used primarily on internal (as in not shared with the public) applications, the users of theses apps would be using the computer and OS provided by their employer. Aside from Microsoft, I can’t see popular external (public) facing sites making use of Silverlight because it’s not portable, and conventional web applications will be faster.

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  4. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Ah, ok. You are right, it could be somewhat useful for internal apps. Especially the hackish ones that use some crazy ActiveX hacks.

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