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First Look At Microsoft Silverlight 3 228

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the and-html-5-to-rule-them-all dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Martin Heller finds Silverlight 3 gaining ground on Adobe Flash, Flex, and AIR in all the areas where Silverlight 2 had lagged. No longer do developers need to build desktop WPF apps based loosely on corresponding Silverlight RIAs, as Silverlight 3 adds the ability to install Silverlight apps on the desktop, update them in place, detect Net connectivity state changes, and store data locally and securely. Moreover, solid Expression Blend 3 and Visual Studio 2010 betas provide developers with much improved tools to create Silverlight RIAs. '"I do not expect many Adobe shops to give up their Flash, Flex, and AIR for Silverlight 3. I do expect many Microsoft shops to do more RIAs with Silverlight now that it's more capable and to create lightweight browser/desktop Silverlight 3 applications where they might have fashioned heavier-weight Windows Forms or WPF client applications," Heller says.'"
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First Look At Microsoft Silverlight 3

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  • Moonlight? (Score:1, Informative)

    by youn (1516637) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:59AM (#28318971) Homepage

    Moonlight http://mono-project.com/Moonlight [mono-project.com] (with a semi official technical collaboration from microsoft.. they gave implementation hints). It has been around for a while and I'm sure it'll eventually get to 3.0 compatibility rather quickly

  • Re:I'll pass. (Score:3, Informative)

    by martinmarv (920771) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:33AM (#28319093) Homepage

    Just in case anyone decides to post the parent as informative, I'll point out Moonlight [mono-project.com] which is an implementation of Silverlight that runs on Linux. There is also Mac support in Firefox and Safari.

  • by janwedekind (778872) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:44AM (#28319145) Homepage

    The real underlying problem is software patents. As long as software patents exist, somebody will always find a legally enforcible way to tax users for their access to data.

  • by benjymouse (756774) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:09AM (#28319607)

    I think he was referring to "isolated storage". Basically you can allow "applicatoions" to store data locally on your machine. By default only a limited quota is granted (the application can ask for more and the user has to approve it).

    The stored data is obfuscated to avoid malicious apps downloading files/scripts and then use social engineering techniques to fool the user into launching them. This allows an app access to data even when offline.

    Silverlight itself executes inside a pretty restricted sandbox. Silverlight has an impeccable security record Secunia reports zero vulnerabilities in both SL1 and SL2. That is not to say that there are no vulns in SL. But at least compared to Flash it's quite good.

    Even so, installing yet another plugin/app will *never* make your computer *more* secure, except when you're installing some lock-down app or firewall. Obviously any app only increases the attack surface.

  • Re:Moonlight? (Score:3, Informative)

    by benjymouse (756774) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @11:44AM (#28320179)

    Microsofts assistance to Moonlight is actually increasing.

    Microsoft helped Moonlight users get legal access to commercially licensed codecs by allowing Moonlight users to download the codecs from Microsoft's site. That way the codecs are covered by Microsofts licenses (Microsoft licences these codes from 3rd party IP companies).

    Perhaps more importantly Microsoft also open sourced the control widgets for Silverlight so that the exact same controls can be used in Moonlight.

    That said, Moonlight still have some distance to cover to reach SL parity. I believe they are still missing code access security (CAS). CAS is paramount when you let foreign code into your system. It forms part of the sandbox which constrain what the foreign code can do (it has to declare up front was privileges it must be granted, and during execution it cannot go beyond those privileges). I believe that is the most important missing piece.

    Silverlight 3 also features hardware 3D acceleration. I don't know how far Moonlight has come there. The other parts such as C# 4 and DLR Mono and Moonlight actually seems to be not to far behind.

    But another area where Moonlight may actually be more compelling than Silverlight is in the area of cross-compilation. If not already, you will soon be able to develop iPhone apps in silverlight and cross-compile them for iPhone. As Apple does not allow any VM technology into their precious iPhone garden, this is quite interesting (by being compiled to native code Moonlight circumvent this restriction). Developers can develop games in Silverlight and can use almost the exact same code base for iPhone, Windows, OSX and Linux.

    Also, do remember that Microsoft develops and supports Silverlight on Intel OSX too. At present Silverlight then covers some 97% of the market (Windows + Intel Macs).

  • Re:I'll pass. (Score:5, Informative)

    by digidave (259925) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:16PM (#28320411)

    I had a couple of Microsofties come in to work to present to us about Virtual Earth. They talked a lot about VE's Silverlight integration, but when asked they admitted that only about 35% of desktop users had Silverlight installed. Even if that is not a high estimate, it's pathetic.

    Even if you only care about Windows users, Silverlight is not a suitable technology to roll out to end-users. Flash 9+ has something like 98% market penetration.

  • by kpdvx (546561) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:23PM (#28320473)
    Fwiw, Adobe already /has/ open-sourced Flex, the Flash framework that really makes Flash useful for developing RIAs (they haven't open-sourced their compiler, I don't believe, but all of the Flex ActionScript is available). I'm a Flash/Flex developer, and at least a few times a week I grep through their source code to figure out how to do something, or how to change something about a built-in component, etc. Adobe has also released a specification for their swf file format, available at http://www.adobe.com/devnet/swf/ [adobe.com].
  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:29PM (#28320519)

    Surely you jest? The Silverlight tools [microsoft.com] are an installable plug-in to either Visual Studio 2008 or Visual Web Developer Express [microsoft.com], which is Microsoft's free IDE.

    Or you can get the Silverlight(TM) 2 SDK [microsoft.com] without the extra tools to use it without any IDE at all [microsoft.com].

    Microsoft have also provide support to open source projects like Eclipse4SL [eclipse4sl.org] to add support to the Eclipse IDE to "enable Java developers to use the Eclipse platform to create applications that run on the Microsoft Silverlight runtime platform".

    I have never installed Silverlight (my web is rich enough without that or Flash), but all of the above was found with the first few matches of a Google search. But hey, feel free to jump to the anti-competitive conclusions.

  • Re:Moonlight? (Score:4, Informative)

    by benwaggoner (513209) <ben.waggonerNO@SPAMmicrosoft.com> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:12PM (#28322445) Homepage

    The story of Microsoft and IE is a good example of why people distrust your company so much. A technically interesting browser, which foreshadowed a lot of the developments on the web now, was deliberately left to stagnate for years after Microsoft imposed it as the dominant browser.

    The IE6-IE7 gap wasn't due to some clever plan. IE7 was always meant to ship with Vista, and so with the Vista delays, IE6 remained on the market longer than anyone had imagined. But Microsoft certainly was at least as frustrated by how late Vista and IE7 were as anyone else.

    Given that every IE6 user is also an XP user who hasn't upgraded to Vista or (soon) Windows 7, Microsoft has a big business incentive to make IE6 go away. And the very fact that IE7 and IE8 exist and are architected to balance compatibility with IE6-specific sites and standards based sites is exactly what needs to happen, so that businesses don't feel like they have to stay on IE6 forever to retain compatibility with crufty old LOB intranet pages.

    HTML 5 support doesn't look like it's coming to IE8 - I wonder why not?

    Er, because it shipped :)? HTML5's not coming to Safari 3, is it? I assume you're speaking of the tag; IE8 does have some other HTML5 features. Also, HTML5 is still in draft form, and no one has as full implementation of it. There's no tagged content that works in both Safari and Firefox. It's an interesting technology, but it's not final, no one has a robust implementation of what's in there yet, and the whole "what's the basline codec/format" question remains wide open.

    If anything, Silverlight would be a great way to implement HTML5. Silverlgiht already has the compositing and media playback engines browsers lack, supports managed code codec plugins, and can have logic updated as managed code out of band without binary updates.

    Silverlight would be a better platform to implement than will be a viable competitor to Silverlight anytime soon.

    I'm sure *in theory* Silverlight could have exactly the same functionality on Windows, Mac and Linux, but until I see it actually happen, it's really of no interest.

    Well, what have you seen so far? Any sites that work in Silverlight for Windows but not Mac? Any features in Silverlight which Moonlight isn't going to be able to implement? increasing divergence between Silverlight/Moonlight? It seems like things are going in the direction you're saying you want them to go.

    With HTML 5 this sort of binary plugin becomes less and less relevant every day.

    Why do you think HTML 5 won't be implemented with a binary plugin? Chrome uses ffmpeg. Safari uses QuickTime. Building a robust media pipeline is HARD; it'd take browser developers years to integrate that kind of functionality as a truly native part of the browser model, instead of a "oh, binary over there, you own this rectangle" approach.

  • by benwaggoner (513209) <ben.waggonerNO@SPAMmicrosoft.com> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:38PM (#28322619) Homepage

    Now I see it can install apps and updates directly to the desktop, and is based on .net/mono - absolutely no way!

    It's not running native code apps, sheesh. It's the same managed code sandbox and security model as the browser plugin, but can run without being in a browser proper.

    But the (high) security model remains the same. It's just like opening "Default.html" from the desktop.

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