Silverlight Analysis: Not Quite Gold, Not too Light

August 19, 2008

In my keynote at Information Today’s eContent conference in April 2008, I referenced Silverlight’s importance to Microsoft. Since most organizations rely on Windows desktop operating systems and applications, Silverlight becomes a good fit for some organizations. I also suggested that Silverlight would play a much larger role in online rich media. I was not able at the time to reference the role Silverlight would play in the Beijing Olympics. Most in the audience of about 150 big time media executives were not familiar with the technology, nor did those in attendance see much relevance between their traditional media operations and Silverlight. Now that the Olympics have been deemed a success for both Microsoft and NBC, I hope that some of the big media mavens understand that rich media may be important to the survival of many information organizations. I’m all for printed books and journals, but the future beckons video and other types of TV-type material.

Tim Anderson’s excellent analysis of Silverlight is available in The Register, one of my favorite news services. The analysis is “Microsoft Silverlight: 10 Reasons to Love It, 10 Reasons to Hate It”, and you should read it here. Unlike most of the top 10 lists that are increasingly common on Web logs, Mr. Anderson’s analysis is based on a solid understanding of what Silverlight does and how it goes about its business. The write up provides the advertised 10 items of strengths and weaknesses, but he supports each point with a useful technical comment.

Let me illustrate just one of his 20 points, and then you can navigate to The Register for the other 19 items. For example, consider item five in the plus column is that Silverlight interprets XAML–Microsoft’s extensible application mark up language–is interpreted directly by Silverlight “whereas Adobe’s XML GUI language, MXML, gets converted to SWF at compiling time. In fact, XAML pages are included as resources in the compiled .XAP binary used for deploying Silverlight applications.”

Mr. Anderson also includes one of those wonderful Microsoft diagrams that show how Microsoft’s various moving parts fit together. I download these immediately because they come in handy when explaining why it costs an arm and a leg to troubleshoot some Microsoft enterprise applications. This version of the chart about Silverlight requires that you install Silverlight. Now you get the idea about Microsoft’s technique for getting its proprietary technology on your PC.

A happy quack to Tim Anderson for a useful analysis.

Stephen Arnold, August 19, 2008


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