My Dislike for Silverlight

Last week in a moment of Microsoft frustration I tweeted out my dislike of Silverlight and this week it didn't get much better.


I'm living the Apple and Google lifestyle and during my normal Internet consumption I don't run into many sites that use Silverlight. Actually, it looks like each time I visit a site using Silverlight I need to update, I'm not sure why this is, does Microsoft deploy very regular updates or do I need to install for each browser I'm using? Anyway I run too often into the 'There is a newer version of Silverlight to install', breaking my fluid browsing experience.

The frustration came from a very simple task that would take me a few minutes to complete into something that suddenly required me to download, prompting me with incompatibilities, install Silverlight and restarting browsers. All I wanted to do was to give Bing a few thumbs up and register this blog with the Bing webmaster tools. This is what happened: I started Firefox and went to the Bing webmaster tools where I got prompted to install Silverlight (As far as I knew it was installed already). I pressed the download and install button and Chrome (my default browser) was launched and messages about incompatibility issues were given.


I ignored the messages, downloaded, installed, restarted Firefox and I navigated to Bing webmaster tools. What I saw shocked me, a simple site that could easily be done with HTML, there was no rich media, no complex interaction, only a simple web site. However it didn't feel like the web and in frustration I just left thinking Google is good enough for me. Today I tried again and with an even bigger surprise I learned that the site doesn't even work, I can select the site but the tabs on top just don't react. Ok, forget it: I hate Silverlight.



This week it again became pretty clear to me why Microsoft needs to abandon Silverlight as soon as possible. In the last few days I consumed a lot of news from CES in Las Vegas. I'm in Europe so a lot of news reaches me in the morning when I'm having a coffee in one hand and my iPad in the other. While zipping my coffee and having some breakfast I scan my RSS feeds. A lot of CES reporting is done with video and even with the lack of Flash support on the iPad the YouTube embedded videos showed up perfectly, this in contrast with the 'Install Silverlight' button. Why can't everybody and especially the Windows blog just use YouTube for publishing videos and have the biggest reach for their content.





To the Silverlight people: Do you really think I'm going to interrupt breakfast, walk over to another computer and finally watch the 2 min Silverlight movie? You just missed a great opportunity to engage with me.

Is there still a place for Silverlight? Yes but not on the web! Put it on phones, Xboxes and may be even on other specific hardware (e.g. point of Sales systems). Just don't interrupt my browsing experience!

4 comments

Hi Aad, I understand your frustration but I feel you should blame the web applications you've tested, not the platform they used. We are building software with Silverlight for 1,5 years now, and we're very positive about Silverlight. So here's the challenge: visit us, talk with our software architects, experience a rich SL web App and then judge again: abandon Silverlight or tell the world you've experienced something you didn't expect from Silverlight! Just call. Regards, Eddy Plasier, Qics Software

Eddy,

The challenge is not to create great applications, the challenge is to deliver those applications to users and have them using the applications.

1. The delivery of a Silverlight application is always a challenge, because you can't control the client, especially with the emerge of many more platforms (iOS, Android, WebOS, etc.). Flash btw has the same problem, but is shipped on more computers and is already deeper penetrated.
2. The Bing application is done by Microsoft, I can safely assume that they know how to build and deliver great applications. My user experience was terrible and I didn't make it to exploring the app (that btw. doesn't even work)
3. Video always required either Flash or Silverlight, but this is changing quickly. The HTML 5 standard (even Microsoft says so) it the way forward.

I've a challenge for you. I visit, bring my Macbook/iPad and you can judge the user experience of downloading, installing and restarting.

Hi Aad,

I agree the plugin is a big disadvantage for Silverlight. And ofcourse HTML is the only technology, at the moment, which can target (almost) each and every device. But HTML5 misses the programming language while
Silverlight has the power of C# and offers a lot of developer productivity-tools.

SL and HTML5 compete in another field. The choice Silverlight or HTML depends on the kind op appliction you are developping. If its your job to develop a line of business application, HTML and javascript will not take you to your goals very fast and it might be a bumpy ride. You will need a powerful databinding framework and a tight integration with other .NET subsystems. Silverlight can offer this today. Flash never made it to the enterprise solution market, and it's not likely HTML5 will go there. Ofcourse, if you're developping a website HTML and javascript will be the best choice.

I bet HTML5 will be gorgeous but it will take some time to mature. (Some articels mention that the HTML5 standard will be finalized 2022...)

But you are right: an end user doesn't care about technolgy, he/she wants the positive experience. And your expriencew with Silverlight so far are bad. I would like to meet you in our office to discuss about SL and HTML5 and their future. But pls don't bring your iPad, caus for political reasons, Silverlight is not supported on iPads.... :-( which is 1-0 for HTML....

Sliverlight 5 runs on iPad...

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