Bonum Certa Men Certa

Media Reality Check: Microsoft Silverlight a Big Programming Scam

Neither open source nor cross-platform

This post is not a rant. It is justified criticism of 'the media' which, having been fed Kool-Aid from Microsoft, flooded "open source" feeds with one of the worst poisons out there, which are not only harmful to open source but are also harmful to the future of the Web, open access (OA) included.



To paraphrase some memorable quote, "Silverlight is cancer on the Web." It is intended to restrict or altogether block access to information, discriminate to promote Microsoft's business agenda, force developers and users to purchase software from a monopolist, harm digital durability and curation (DRM, specifications), and stifle search engines too. Silverlight was already looked (still is being looked) by antitrust regulators in two continents: Europe and America. Relevant links are appended to the bottom of this post.

“Watch how they 'decorate' the uninteresting announcement of Silverlight 2 with popular terms like "open source" and "Linux".”Silverlight is a big danger, potentially bigger than OOXML and SharePoint. Who could possibly befriend such a monster and why?

It's not just Microsoft's fault. Well, the news feeds are flooded with wrong headlines and misleading messages because Microsoft did a publicity stunt abusing the term "open source" and abusing the term "cross-platform", partly thanks to help from Novell.

We shall defend this contention with evidence. Watch how they 'decorate' the uninteresting announcement of Silverlight 2 with popular terms like "open source" and "Linux". Dishonesty or lies about open source, as well as their relation to platforms, are things that we discussed before. It's developers whom they want to capture and deceive in order to spread XAML around the Web and thus gain greater control over Web content.

Here you can see Miguel de Icaza do his role pretending that Silverlight is Kool (Aid) with GNU/Linux. He'll be presenting at a Microsoft conference by the way.

In the Q&A, Tim Anderson asked about Linux support. Right now Silverlight has partial support for 1.0 (though it doesn’t include video or MP3 playback, two of the main features of Silverlight 1.0) and there is no support for 2 on Linux right now. As Tim notes, it’s misleading to tout the cross platform aspect of Silverlight without an actual release. It’s also surprising that there was absolutely nothing in terms of a roadmap for Linux. My hunch is that they wanted something to announce for PDC and this may be it. As Brian Goldfarb mentioned in the Q&A session, Miguel de Icaza, who runs the Moonlight effort, has a session at PDC although his session doesn’t say anything about Silverlight/Moonlight so I’m not sure what to make of that.


The funny thing about PDC is that the page about sponsors almost gives the effect and impression that many companies are involved. A whois lookup, however, quickly nets:

 Registrant:
        Microsoft Corporation
        Domain Administrator
        One Microsoft Way
        Redmond, WA 98052-6399
        US
        domains@microsoft.com
        001-425-8828080  Fax: 001-425-9367329



Domain Name: MICROSOFTPDC.COM Registrar of Record: Corporate Domains, Inc.

Administrative Contact: Microsoft Corporation Domain Administrator One Microsoft Way Redmond, WA 98052-6399 US domains@microsoft.com 001-425-8828080 Fax: 001-425-9367329 Technical Contact: ORCSWEB, Inc. Tech Contact 3020-I Prosperity Church Road Charlotte, NC 28269 US webteam@orcsweb.com 001-909-7153115 Fax: 000-000-0000000

Domain servers in listed order:

NS1.MSFT.NET NS5.MSFT.NET NS2.MSFT.NET NS3.MSFT.NET NS4.MSFT.NET

Created on..............: 09-Sep-03 Expires on..............: 09-Sep-10 Record last updated on..: 08-Sep-08


Anyway...

Here is a whole article which only found it interesting that Silverlight is touching 'something' called Eclipse.

This, said the company, will enable ports of Silverlight to the Macintosh and Linux platforms. In addition, Novell is working on its own Linux port.


This is deceiving. Once again there's this vague talk about a port to GNU/Linux. This is not a port. Moonlight is not a port; it's an independent poor copycat, which will never catch up. Dana Blankenhorn compared it to a "lead pony" (in a horse race).

Here is another yucky one:

Microsoft's second Silverlight courts open-source coders



Microsoft is courting open-source developers with Silverlight 2.0, as it strives for cross-platform uptake of the browser-based media plug in.


The impression one is supposed to get is that Silverlight targets an open source crowd. This is deceptive and it's unlikely to be a coincidence. Silverlight is proprietary and the article only talks about a tiny or inexistent niche for the technology.

Here is another such example:

Microsoft Shines Open Source Initiative on Silverlight



[...]

The authoring tools for Microsoft's Silverlight, the new rich-media Web plug-in, will soon be available for those working on Macs and on open source programs.


What about GNU/Linux?

Some people still fail to understand the point about Novell striving to make Microsoft's .NET some sort of de facto 'standard'. Miguel de Icaza already storms a page to defend himself in the following post that contain this:

Having Silverlight used on such a massive event like the Olympics also helps MS help to convince people who switched to Macs that they are on the wrong platform. After all, all they have to do is release a new version of Silverlight and not release it to the Macs on the same day. Bam, people start jonesing for Windows again.


This type of problem is only to be expected. Moreover, it's all about DRM, money, and PR.

Microsoft announces the availability of Silverlight 2 with new features including DRM and enhanced advertising support. Microsoft also announces funding for an open-source project to create an Eclipse plug-in for Silverlight.


And there are many more examples of this distraction and open source detour:

In an attempt to bring more non-Microsoft and open source developers into the fold, Microsoft announced that it would be funding the development of Silverlight-related capability in the Eclipse Foundation's open source development environment, not only Microsoft's Visual Studio.


At all costs, Microsoft is hoping to spread this proprietary XAML disease across the Web, along with the Mono disease (did anyone know there is a novell [sic] called Momo?).

To summarise, Silverlight is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Discourage Webmasters who make use of Silverlight and discourage those who accept the content or download appropriate plug-ins, of which there are none for GNU/Linux. Microsoft used Novell as its excuse for ignoring GNU/Linux as a target platform, despite (or because) it being Microsoft's #1 rival.

Silverlight toilet

Related reading (internal):



Related reading (external):

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