Silverlight Better Than HTML5 Says Microsoft

I say it’s been some time since a FUD alert, but this qualifies. Did anyone expect Microsoft to state that there was no reason to use Silverlight? Seriously.

If there is a way that Microsoft can further insinuate itself into the web at any point, through any process, it will. It is a long proven fact, beginning with the release of Internet Exploder. It just was no good to have people use Mosaic or Netscape, it was necessary to have a Microsoft brand on a browser.

In a similar fashion, video on the web needs to be branded Microsoft – at least that’s the line from Redmond.

[PC World]

While acknowledging the importance of HTML5, Microsoft stressed this week that its Silverlight rich Internet technology extends the Web beyond what HTML5 allows.

Is this the same way that Darth Vader extended the power of the Force beyond what Master Yoda showed Luke? We know what happened there. Some things are better left out.

Standards-based multimedia features offered by HTML5 have taken the spotlight lately from proprietary technologies, such as Silverlight and Adobe’s Flash. But Silverlight still has a purpose in the wake of HTML5′s emergence, said Microsoft’s Brad Becker, director of product management for Developer Platforms, in a blog entry entitled "The Future of Silverlight."

"On the Web, the purpose of Silverlight has never been to replace HTML; it’s to do the things that HTML (and other technologies) couldn’t in a way that was easy for developers to tap into. Microsoft remains committed to using Silverlight to extend the Web by enabling scenarios that HTML doesn’t cover," Becker said. "From simple ‘islands of richness’ in HTML pages to full desktop-like applications in the browser and beyond, Silverlight enables applications that deliver the kinds of rich experiences users want."

Silverlight is valuable for business/enterprise applications, premium media experiences, and consumer applications and games, Becker said.

"The media features of Silverlight are far beyond what HTML5 will provide and work consistently in users’ current and future browsers," Becker said. Silverlight offers advantages in such areas as high-definition video, content protection, 3-D video, and smooth streaming, said Becker.

Microsoft, Becker said, is participating in more than 400 standards engagements, including the development of HTML.

This falls under the friends close, enemies closer position.

"It’s not just idle talk. Microsoft has many investments based on or around HTML, such as SharePoint, Internet Explorer, and ASP.Net. We believe HTML5 will become ubiquitous just like HTML 4.01 is today," Becker said. Microsoft has committed to backing HTML5 in its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser and has partially leveraged it in Internet Explorer 8 as well.

The company is working on donating test suites to help improve consistency between implementations of HTML5 and CSS (Cascading Styles Sheets) 3, Becker said. But these technologies have had issues with variations between browsers.

"HTML5 and CSS 3 are going to make this worse for a while as the specs are new and increase the surface area of features that may be implemented differently. In contrast, since we develop all implementations of Silverlight, we can ensure that it renders the same everywhere," said Becker.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has shipped four major versions of Silverlight in about half the time that HTML5 has been under design, he said. Silverlight 4 shipped in April, making it the fourth release in two-and-a-half years. Silverlight also is more than a browser technology, with Microsoft investing in desktop, mobile and living room capabilities for the technology.

If only they worked that diligently on their browsers. I might not otherwise be referring to them as Internet Exploder . If Microsoft wants to be helpful, why not put Silverlight into the public arena, by releasing it for ISO standardization, the way Adobe did with PDF. That would show effort, and benevolence to the computer community at large.

"For HTML5 to be really targetable, the spec has to stabilize, browsers have to all implement the specs in the same way and over a billion people have to install a new browser or buy a new device or machine. That’s going to take a while. And by the time HTML5 is broadly targetable, Silverlight will have evolved significantly. Meanwhile, Silverlight is here now and works in all popular browsers and operating systems," Becker said.

Of course Microsoft is who determines what browsers are popular, further showing its need to control the web. Opera doesn’t work with Silverlight, last time I checked, Chrome did not always work with Silverlight. No, only Internet Exploder and Firefox, the latter by sheer force of numbers, are compatible with Silverlight. I suppose Microsoft does not want to let people know about the problems some of us have had with Silverlight on Internet Exploder…

Yes, the FUD is spreading.

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- W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman

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