Microsoft's Silverlight Promises to Disrupt Linux Web Users


Just as it seemed that Linux users (especially 64-bit users) would finally be able to enjoy streaming content with a minimum of hassle, Microsoft's new Silverlight software promises to throw a wrench in the works. Because of sites like Google Video and Youtube, Flash video has become a common means of streaming multimedia over the Internet. With the recent release of Flash 9 for Linux, users have access to much of the same content as their OS X and Windows counterparts.

The Silverlight software, based on the preexisting Windows Media Video standard, is a “cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive applications (RIAs) for the Web,” according to a recent press release available here on Microsoft's website. Though Silverlight sounds very promising, and may actually displace Flash video as the means most sites use to stream content, Microsoft has yet to even hint at the planned existence of a Linux plug-in. Apparently, cross-platform only includes Windows and OS X, even though there is an ever-increasing Linux user base.

This is not the first time Microsoft has caused problems for web users running Linux. When Windows Media 9 was first released, there was no support for it in any Linux media player. Wrappers were written allowing 32-bit Linux users to use Windows DLL files in Mplayer, but this was not an ideal solution. The legality and licensing of using Windows DLLs in Linux is questionable at best. 64-bit users did not even have this option, and were instead forced to run a 32-bit precompiled version of Mplayer to get any Windows Media 9 support. It was only in the past year that Mplayer was able to release native codecs for WM9 in both a 32-bit and 64-bit environment.

Because of the inital lack of codecs, and the predominance of WMV streaming video, viewing embedded content in Linux was difficult at best, and sometimes impossible. As Flash continues to replace or stand alongside WMV on an increasing number of sites, Linux users could all but forget about the problems before.

Now, it seems that users might end up back where they started, if Silverlight gets off the ground. According to the press release, Microsoft has already gained support from companies such as Akamai Technologies Inc., Brightcove Inc., Eyeblaster Inc., Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball and Netflix Inc. If Silverlight continues to show this level of success, Linux users may have to start hoping that a plug-in, or at least a workaround, will be developed by a third-party. Certainly, Microsoft will not want to give one of its primary competitors, especially one they tend to (conveniently) ignore anyway, any such help.

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Born and raised near Tampa. Third-year physics student at New College of Florida in Sarasota. Planning on Law School or somesuch.

Shadowfire 0 Newbie Poster

Blackbird reincarnated? (Microsoft playing the same game at a later date)

Since Linux can proform well with latest standards in media, Microsoft is pushing a new standard of their own to mess this up.

They tried to do this once before with BLACKBIRD.

At the time of Blackbird, it was Microsofts secret weapon against on-line services, such as America Online, and the W3C group. (that was Microsofts big enemies at the time.)

Silverlight is just the same type of combative propietery software to make the same issues for linux (incompatibility issues so people will not want to run it anymore and stick with XP and Vista.)

Becarefull to adopt propriety software such as Silverlight as it puts limits to your use of your computer and your choice! It also seems to push up the cost of something that could be free of charge.

Hope everyone can at least take that in to consideration.


dogatemycompute 0 Newbie Poster

I know it always irrtates me when Microsoft tries to produce yet another closed source, proprietary, lock-in product. In this case, thankfully, Microsoft provided a list of companies to complain too. I already voiced a concern to Netflix via their customer support line and I would hope others would do the same.

mattb0611 0 Light Poster

I already voiced a concern to Netflix via their customer support line and I would hope others would do the same.

That's a good point. We should ensure there are alternatives to Silverlight before they start, e.g. Flash video or an equivalent. It's obnoxious when a plugin required for a service doesn't run in Linux.

Silverlight is just the same type of combative propietery software to make the same issues for linux (incompatibility issues so people will not want to run it anymore and stick with XP and Vista.)

Exactly. If people can't do the same things they want to do in Linux as in Windows, they won't want to switch.

stimpy77 0 Newbie Poster

Oh please, give it a rest. Silverlight is just XAML (XML) + Javascript. Silverlight isn't open-sourced but it is open standard. Get to work on it or hush.

MattEvans 473 Veteran Poster Team Colleague Featured Poster

Silverlight isn't open-sourced but it is open standard.

open standard is irrelevant if there's no easy way to port a viewer to linux.

there's not much WMV around at the moment for sure... even for non-streamed video, DivX and MPEGs seem to be more popular at the moment.

ha.. I certainly didn't move most of my development to linux rather than windows to watch streaming video clips though... i use windows on and off; but again, not for streaming video.

it's up to those releasing video to make provision for different operating systems; Microsoft might be a manipulative consumption driven money making machine; but they don't control our minds... yet.

cutepinkbunnies 4 Junior Poster

Software Darwinism at its best :)

betame342 0 Newbie Poster

SilverLight 1.1 Alpha will be cross platform. It 's about 4MB and can be view in Microsoft and Mac and soon Linux.

cbemerine 0 Light Poster

Good point shadowfire and thanks for the links.

Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft you never learn. This is why so many more are getting off your self made roller am I. I am not completely Linux yet, but most certainly heading that way.

Do you remember "General Protection Fault" (Memory problems that Microsoft never fixed, yet released a guide for troubleshooting that took 3+ hours to go through for each attempt yet never worked and they knew it did not work but you cannot 'prove' it.)

Do you remember the browser wars...Netscape vs Internet Explorer; (yet we have FireFox in spite of their efforts ... so that did not work.)

Do you remember that they were one of the companies (in their defense they were not the only company that wanted things their way) to make a farce of Web 2.0, making it marketing hype. (They successfully delayed and prevented it from becoming a standard for more than 5 years. In spite of their efforts, FireFox is compliant and believe even Opera is more compliant towards Web 2.0 than Internet Explorer (IE). Sorry but IE is and probably never will be Web 2.0 compliant., lol, they don't want it to be as it does not give them a competitive advantage like they are continually trying to get and failing.

No matter how safe anyone states that 'automatic updating is' does not matter as the fact that hardware and/or software that can be manipulated by an outside source (no matter who that outside source is) VIOLATES current BANKING REGULATIONS! (Personally I am surprised more have not ousted later versions of XP (Auto Update, even when turned off, updates anyway; prior to a specific release of whose number I don't have in front of me but you can search for it, when you turned off auto update, well it worked) and Vista.

I just read about a tool that allows you to convert pretty much anything video wise, I think it even runs under Microsoft OS, but there are FREE codecs available for Linux machines and Linux conversion is the link:

A while back Mr. Gates attempted to get, buy, usurp the 'free' Video Codecs associated with Linux. Fortunately for all of us there were individuals technologically savvy enough to realize what that would mean for all of us and prevented him from getting the Codec.

The most important thing, the members of the open source community love a challenge. They know that when you state emphatically that something can't be done, that it is FUD, given time almost anything is possible. This is why most Account ID / Password systems can be broken, many in 24 or 48 hours, because they are somewhat secure, yet the companies will publicly tell everyone that it can 'never be done', many know first hand that is FUD.

Keep watching the news, they were so sure that everyone would go out and pay the $$$ for 2 GB of RAM so Vista would run well and $$$ for a new computer with a huge 2+ GHz processor again so Vista would run better. And while many have bought in to Vista, many more never will, thus their backpedalling with other measures...just read the latest Daniweb newsletter. (Linux runs very well with 256MB of ram, bet your PC you are reading this with has that or more...Linux will fly on your machine. There are many new offerings, even subnotebooks, that have on board for $399 (less than $400) 900 MHz processor, 512MB RAM, Webcam, Audio, Microphone, Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet hardwired, 3 USB ports that can will never run well with Vista.)

Microsoft will never learn. The question is this stuff and more has been happening since the 1990s, will you ever learn? Will you?

I have and yes it can be a painful learning curve with Linux in the beginning time wise, once you get it up and running, it runs forever just talk to any System Administrator that has worked extensively with servers and ask them what Operating System has better up times, if they do not say Linux or Unix, they are biased and they know it. And here I am personally speaking from experience having been a System Administrator for a Telco with a very, very large data centers in multiple cities and I will even date myself, not only did I work with Novell Netware, but I worked with OS/2 (1.2 through Warp); Lotus Notes, NT (starting with v3.0 and up through MS Server IIs); Solaris, Linux, HP-UX and a few others that really are not worth mention including a few Mainframe OS's. The Linux and Unix servers typically run until they are taken down for a reason, the same cannot be said of any of the other server operating systems that I have worked with...period. And this is First hand experience, so please cut the FUD.

If you want to learn Linux, the help is out there. Heck I am relearning what I use to do too! There is nothing that any company now or ever can do that will prevent your Linux O.S. from running, so please don't let others who are fans, intolerant, illiberal, a bigot, etc of other operating system (as I appear to be about Microsoft) from confusing your or scaring you - that is FUD. (Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a tactic of rhetoric used in sales, marketing, public relations.)

The open source community is huge and not going anywhere...GO FOR IT! Free yourself and give it a try, but don't expect it to be easy, it often is not, but even that is improving, thank goodness.

Anything anyone else can do, the Open Source community can do and usually they can do it better.

And they love challenges!

mbaocha 0 Newbie Poster

Microsoft is no match to linux as far as operating systems are concerned. I've learned that a long time ago.

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