Silverlight Excitement


Are you excited about Silverlight? I am.


In case you haven’t heard, Silverlight is a new rich internet application platform developed by Microsoft with support on both Windows and Macintosh systems. It’s pretty awesome. The Silverlight demos presented during the Mix 07 conference keynote were simply out of this world, and featured the cross-platform experience on Mac (or, depending on your perspective, the cross-platform experience on Windows) quite nicely.


Developers can use XAML (a subset of the same XML-based vector graphics markup language used by Windows Presentation Foundation on Vista) in the browser, and bind XAML controls through the DOM to either Javascript or the .NET Framework core components, the latter of which was brought over to Mac to help make this happen. That’s right; I said .NET Framework on Mac. Exciting? You bet.


Too geeky for you? How about streaming Windows Media audio and video, supported by Microsoft, including HD video up to 720p? Check out these Mix 07 demos (I’m personally a major fan of Top Banana) and you’ll start to get a sense of the kinds of exciting rich internet experiences that Silverlight helps to enable.


Not geeky enough for you? What about dynamic language runtime support, so you can implement all your code-behind in Ruby, Python, or what have you? How about designers and developers working together with seamlessly integrated workflows to help each other deliver striking content with killer functionality behind the scenes? How about the power and performance of the core .NET Framework helping to deliver both software and services online, across browsers, and across platforms? How about 4 GB of free Microsoft-hosted video? How cool is that?


Did I mention that Silverlight is supported in both Safari and Firefox browsers on the Mac? Okay, I admit, I’m feeling just a little bit of Silverlight excitement.


So, that’s all good and exciting, but what does Silverlight have to do with MacBU anyways? Well, in a sense, not much: Silverlight is not a MacBU effort. Why not, you ask? Well, as you probably know, MacBU has never been the only source within Microsoft for software on the Mac. We certainly are the center of gravity for exciting Mac-specific experiences at Microsoft, but Silverlight (which is really about exciting cross-platform experiences) doesn’t really fit that “Mac-specific” charter. But we’re certainly excited to have Silverlight join us here on this exciting platform that we call the Mac.


Check out Silverlight for yourself.

Comments (47)

  1. david says:

    Excited about Silverlight? No I’m not. Even if I believed Microsoft intended to keep it platform agnostic – which I don’t – I wouldn’t care in the least. The internet doesn’t need more competing technologies that are little more than retreads of what already exists. So far all I see is another attempt by the Borg to assimilate the internet.

    I have a truly exciting idea for Microsoft – not to mention my stock portfolio which includes a great deal of undervalued Microsoft stock – INNOVATE SOMETHING instead of talking about innovating.

    I feel better now.

  2. Spofford says:

    Hmm, when I go to the MLB demo, I click the Play button on the video but nothing happens. Lame.

  3. Shaz DuMont says:

    <blockquote>That’s right; I said .NET Framework on Mac. Exciting? You bet.</blockquote>

    You are high as a kite, my friend.

  4. 1) I’ve yet to find a Silverlight site that didn’t crash my browser, be it FireFox or Safari.

    2) Anyone putting their company behind a cross-platform push from Microsoft that *didn’t* originate in the Mac BU without waiting to see if it’s still around in two years *after release*, and has been updated in that time is deluding themselves, or is ignorant of Microsoft history. The classic example here is cross-platform Active X, but a more recent example would be Rotor, which, with version 2, became Windows only.

    Another example, and one that relates perfectly to Silverlight is Windows Media. Remember Windows Media Player for the Mac? Remember using it to play all that neat music from Napster, and Yahoo, and and the rest? Oh wait, you don’t, because the WM team made sure that the Mac version was crippled and  useless for DRM’d media, unless it was using a pretty ancient DRM spec.

    Sorry, but outside of the Mac BU, Microsoft has no credibility for this kind of stuff. It’s not helped when if you want to use Microsoft’s dev tools for Silverlight, you have to create a Windows infrastructure. Sure, I can use text editors on a Mac, but that’s not going to be a huge help for the .NET parts.

    When I see, in 2009, Silverlight 3.0 coming out, and the !MS platform version isn’t crippled compared to the MS platform version, I’ll take it seriously. Until then, it’s just another variation in the Windows teams’ neverending quest from on high to use interop as a way to suck you into committing to Microsoft tools and tech, and then being hosed when they pull the plug on the !MS platform versions.

  5. Ross says:

    "How about designers and developers working together with seamlessly integrated workflows"

    As long as they use Windows to do it? Right?

  6. BAM says:

    Streaming windows media… does this mean that with this technology, windows media with DRM could be played on a Mac?

  7. Lucky Lou says:

    Wow, if I wanted unfiltered Microsoft advertising I wouldn’t be reading a blog. Here I was thinking MS were making an honest effort at really talking to their core users. Yes, you can get excited, but how about some perspective beyond quivering blind adulation. You sound like one of us Mac users after a Jobs keynote for god’s sake.

  8. Markus says:

    Silverlight is useless. But OTOH you can use some of its code to prove that your "We take interoperability seriously" blah blah is more than just hot air:

    Bundle its .NET framework with Office 2008 and include the MS sponsored ODF-Converter with it.

    If Office 2008 is able to open and save Open Document files out of the box, you may gain some credibility.

  9. Diego says:

    No, not excited at all. Why would Mac users be excited? There are no dev tools on the Mac. Why any self respecting Mac user would switch to Windows to do dev for Silverlight is beyond me. Flash is the way unless Microsoft provides dev tools for it on the Mac. Designers especially will not move to Windows.

    As someone asked, will support for Windows Media improve and return to the Mac?

  10. Kelmon says:

    I have pretty much the same opinion on the subject as others here.  A better experience from online applications is always welcome, particularly if it means that I’ll no longer encounter Windows-only websites.  However, I don’t expect this technology to come from Microsoft who has no incentive to produce this technology for other platforms – they just need to kill off support for Adobe’s products and then concentrate on the Windows platform.  So, no, I don’t trust this and will have nothing to do with it.

    Of course, having nothing to do with Silverlight is much easier on the Mac since we won’t have the tools to author Silverlight applications anyway.  In this respect I’ll be continuing with Adobe.

  11. James says:

    I’ll believe Microsoft is truly behind Silverlight as a cross-platform technology when they have authoring tools on both platforms. There is no parity if the Mac is a consumer only platform.

  12. Gareth says:

    Well, I am an interactive / web producer and I have no intention of using it. I will be sticking to cross-platform, open standards such as Ruby on Rails, CSS, oh, and some Flash. For video I haven’t yet seen better than H.264.

    I really don’t see why Microsoft need to do this. What’s the point? Why can’t they spend the time and money to improve standards support in Internet Explorer? That is much more fundamentally important to the development of the internet than yet another competing, proprietary standard.

  13. Lyle says:

    Blair, I’m on the same page as the rest of the commenters regarding Silverlight, but since no one else has said it yet: This doesn’t mean that we aren’t rooting for you guys in the MacBU, or that we aren’t looking forward to seeing what you guys are doing with Office 2008 and other Mac products.

  14. Jon T says:

    You are falling for the usual Microsoft ploy. All friendly and nice now.. but when it is established that will all change.

    Believe it. Silverlight is NOT GOOD for anyone but Microsoft.

  15. opensourcefan says:

    >Are you excited about Silverlight?

    No. I don’t know what it is and I don’t care.

    >Developers can use XAML (a subset of the same XML-based vector graphics markup language used by Windows Presentation Foundation on Vista)  …[blah blah blah].. .NET Framework on Mac. Exciting?

    Not exciting in the slightest! Why can’t Microsoft ever GO ALONG WITH STANDARDS????? Huh. Ever hear of STANDARDS! You see STANDARDS usually involve competent people setting them and then things don’t tend to EXPLODE like they do when Microsoft dreams them up. See PC Internet Explorer, PC Vista, PC Office 2007 so-called Mac converter fiasco, and all previous versions of Windows OS for examples of exploding disasters for end-users.

    >How about streaming Windows Media audio and video, supported by Microsoft, including HD video up to 720p?

    No thanks. Quicktime, Flash, and MPEG are perfectly acceptable formats. I’d rather poke out my eyes than have to look at anything in WMV format.

    >How about designers and developers working together with seamlessly integrated workflows to help each other deliver striking content with killer functionality behind the scenes?

    You’re killing me.

    >Well, as you probably know, MacBU has never been the only source within Microsoft for software on the Mac.

    That seems to be the 99.9999999% of the problem for Mac users when it comes to things like the Office 2007 converters. Letting people who work with hideous PCs and Microsoft PC software develop something for Mac OS is like letting a 5 year old perform and appendectomy with a screw driver and a butter knife.

  16. ADAXL says:

    I tried out Silverlight, and it sucked. Sure, it’s only a beta, but a movie player that can’t keep the audio track in sync witht he images? Sorry, not for me. If Microsoft wants to make a stand against Adobes very mature Flash technology, as well as Quicktime and AJAX, they have to do much better.

    I second everybody elses opinion about a cross-platform product that supports only Windows as the development platform. Not good.

    I also second the opinions about Microsofts bad track record with cross-platform apps. This is especially true for the Mac side. Remember MSIE for Mac? Nice browser, now dead. Why? Media Player never could play DRM-equipped pieces from the "Plays for Sure" Music stores. Why not? Zune doesn’t support Mac. Why that? MS Office for Windows never played nice with Mac office. It didn’t play nice with older office version for Windows, either.

    Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Mozilla Firefox, VLC and OpenOffice do this every day.

    I wonder if Silverlight for Mac will still be around in two years.

  17. Jens T. says:

    Exciting? AFAIK Silverlight only works on Intel-Macs, leaving more than 60% of the installed Mac-base out in the rain. If that’s what’s called cross-platform-experience at Microsoft, I’m not impressed.

  18. As well, considering that Silverlight 1.1 is Intel only, half the mac users out there can’t use it anyway. Oy.

  19. phil says:

    🙁

    It seems that silverlight dosen’t work whit powerPC mac..

  20. Mike A. says:

    Nope, not excited at all.  Remember IE and WMP?  Those were supposed to bring "cross-platform" experiences to the Mac, but they got dropped as soon as the standard was well-entrenched.  We may use Mac Office, but that doesn’t mean we’re idiots that will buy all your propaganda.

    It will take a lot more than a couple dog-and-pony shows to make us buy your gambit this time.  Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…

  21. Mike says:

    And although Mac users only make up ~5% of the US market, we’re closer to 10-15% of the consumer market and 20-30% of the computer-literate consumer market.  The fact of the matter is that MSFT needs widespread takeup among Mac users if it wants Silverlight to be a big success, and hence we see all of these desperate attempts to convince Mac users that they should d/l and install this stuff.  Guess what – we’re not buying it.  If you wanted our help, then you shouldn’t have screwed us over for the last decade.  Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

  22. ADAXL says:

    I think Silverlight for Mac is going to disappear as soon as the technology is established. Like MSIE for Mac, Media Player for Mac and Virtual PC,  Silverlight will only last until MS has a big market share. Then, Mac support will be quietly discontinued.

  23. "…And keep your eyyyyyyyyyyyyyye on the sparrow!"

  24. Mike M. says:

    Well, Blair, it looks like not a single Mac user here thus far has been fooled. Honestly, you could turn back now and make Silverlight a Windows-only technology, and nobody would care. (In fact, as one commenter on TUAW noted, I think SL is likely to become a “critical Windows update” just so Microsoft can say they have widespread adoption — never mind that it’s forced adoption.)

    Let’s face it, Flash is an extremely established and mature technology with extraordinary saturation. Silverlight is not only literally a “me-too” product that has come far too late, but yet another deliberate attempt to screw over the Mac userbase. I’m sure the MacBU has some good people, but the “real Microsoft” has zero intention of making Silverlight multi-platform past the cursory first version or two.

    I believe I speak for all Macintosh users, or at least all informed ones, when I say that we do not want this trash, in whole or in part, and you can safely call it quits right now.

  25. lightning-xiii says:

    MacBU = Shill

  26. Furies says:

    I guess I can take Microsoft’s idea for cross platform stability and across language support for embedding this new tool into the web. But I see problems. One, how can we be sure that Microsoft will keep the Mac versions up-to-date? Didn’t they promise us that with Windows Media 9? And like what people said above, why on this luscious green earth would Mac users embed Silverlight into our projects instead of Flash? Microsoft provides us NOTHING for coding with their projects, such as .NET and C#. And this can’t just happen "magically", we need tools to do this! And personally even if they were to provide tools, I don’t trust that it would work to it’s full extent on Mac OS X anyway. Besides, if I want .NET for Mac, I’d look to Mono for the support, because Linux is also supported. Silly MS, did you really think .NET was Windows only?

  27. Alexander Griekspoor says:

    It’s simple, you can not be excited about a technology if you can not develop for it on your platform of choice. point.

    Keep up the good work you’re doing within the MacBU, forget about the other (PR) nonsense that’s coming out the windows centric parts of MS.

  28. Silverlight news – May 27,2007

  29. nadyne says:

    For those of you with questions about Silverlight, one of the members of the team has been answering questions over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog:

    http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2007/05/25/ms-bringing-windows-media-support-back-to-mac-with-silverlight

    There’s other Silverlight resources as well, including blogs of several members of the team:

    http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/blogs.aspx

  30. Steve Setzer says:

    Thanks for the links Nadyne. I read the comments at arstechnica, and I am struck by the fact that Microsoft is building nice Silverlight authoring tools for Windows, but the team’s response to the question of tools for the Mac amounts to "well, we think people will make some nice Eclipse plugins." (paraphrase)

    What in the world?

    I’ve used Eclipse. Great tool for programmers, terrible tool for media authors. I can’t imagine a community-created Eclipse plug-in holding a candle to Adobe’s Flash, Director, and other authoring tools for rich media content.

    I’ll clarify what others said on the arstechnica thread: we’ll know Microsoft is serious about Silverlight when Microsoft itself delivers world-class, native-code, Mac-look-and-feel authoring tools on the Macintosh (the home of a hugely disproportionate share of the world’s media developers). "Eclipse plug-in" is not a strategy, it’s a band-aid.

    Please pass that nugget along to your friends on the Silverlight team. They, and their product, are completely doomed in the public Internet media market without a native Mac authoring suite that is fully feature competitive to the Windows authoring tools.

    I like the MacBU. You understand that I want tools, and you deliver the tools I need. Office 2004 makes Windows Office look like a sad toy. But your friends in the rest of Microsoft don’t seem to get it. Or more likely, they do get it, but the mantra of "Windows Windows Windows" carries so much internal political clout that non-MacBU teams are unable to do right by their products on the Macintosh.

  31. Gonzie says:

    thank you david (1st post) couldn’t have said it better myself.

    as for microsofts other issues ie patents, all i can say is open office here i come. reading this macbu blog i did actually think microsoft had changed, fool on me, your still the big bad

    in the words of your zune team managers "bite me"

  32. Look, it’s Silverlight Version 1: http://www.microsoft.com/mind/1198/liquid/liquid.asp

    Like I said, give it a couple years of being a viable, cared-for product, and I’ll start thinking it’s worth looking at. Until then, nope. Thrice burned, thrice-shy. Is it harsh? Sure, but considering the same people are still running Microsoft, it’s simply prudent to keep in mind the broken claims and promises of the past, and not blindly jump at yet another sparkly on monofilament.

  33. ADAXL says:

    @ nadyne

    "We’re sorry, but we were unable to service your request. You may wish to choose from the links below for information about Microsoft products and services."

    This is what I get when I click on http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/blogs.aspx

    The Unofficial Apple Weblog is at http://www.tuaw.com/2007/05/25/silverlight-brings-windows-media-streaming-from-ms/, by the way.

  34. Gonzie says:

    i’m just going to add, it’s very strange that silverlight was developed for all platforms by the same team but when it comes to making media player (defunct i know) or *thinks hard about what else the mbu actually does* erm office oh yes and messenger they deligate it "the mac business unit" (very press friendly name btw) so it’s always behind the windows version and never quite compatible

    carrot tangling from the beating stick anybody?

  35. Alex Kac says:

    I agree that Silverlight is nothing special – except for one major thing. All those companies that developed WMP Windows only feeds (like Netflix) can swap in Silverlight easily thereby offering Mac users the same experience.

    So I look at Silverlight not as a Flash competitor, but as WMP for browsers that actually works.

  36. Eric Welch says:

    Sooooo…this technology is going to be platform agnostic, eh?

    Okay, that means not just runtimes are cross-platform, right? I can create the content on my Mac, right? No? Then it’s hardly cross-platform.

    Oops, Ballmer at AllthingsD today pretty much stated their agenda is to be mostly Windows-centric.

    No thanks. Adobe is going to eat Silverlight’s lunch with Apollo anyway, so why bother?

  37. Dale Jones says:

    If Silverlight is so good why doesn’t Microsoft use it. The recently released 10,000 coffee table computer thingy site was all done in Flash, what gives?

  38. Ilgaz says:

    Where is Windows Media Player 10 with DRM support on Mac?

    No, don’t even mention quicktime components. I want an application which will do MS DRM, coded by Microsoft and actually works natively without a single glitch.

    As long as these childish tricks such as not maintaining Wmedia so Mac users will be alienated from commercial movie sites continues, I will keep happily ignoring Silverlight or anything claiming to be multiplatform.

    Will Silverlight 2 be multiplatform or Windows only with some usual apology as “enhanced”? We learned this trick in very hard way you know… Some media companies are still wondering a way out to move a true multiplatform DRM.

  39. Phillip says:

    .NET on the Mac? For the love of God, please, no. I’ve had no end of grief removing this abomination from my Windows system after some third-party application *insisted* that it needed to be installed. I’d hate to think how messy it would be inside a Mac environment.

    Thanks but no thanks. A clean system is what makes the Mac.

  40. I have to go along with all of the other comments. Microsoft has a long, consistent history of launching cross-platform products only to let the non-Windows version fall behind, languish, and eventually die. Why would you even possibly think that Mac users would not expect Silverlight to join the ranks of the Mac versions of IE and Windows Media Player in a few years?

    If you want to show your commitment to cross-platform support, build some cross-platform tools for Mac and Linux that are on par with Visual Studio and the Expression tools. The initial promise of .Net was that it could be ported to any platform, so why haven’t you done it instead of relying on others (*cough* Mono *cough*) to put forth incomplete implementations. And why aren’t key products like Office and Visual Studio written entirely (or at least mostly) in managed code? .Net has been around for how many years now? This is one of the reasons I quit developing for Windows and moved over to the Mac. If Microsoft isn’t producing their key applications using their super-wiz-bang framework, why should I?

    You’ve burned an entire user base on numerous occassions. To regain their trust you need to own up to that and go pretty stinking far to make ammends. Here’s a suggestion: port .Net — all of it — to the Mac and rewrite your marquee applications in managed code so they will run on both the Mac and Windows. Then, I will start to believe again.

  41. Corentin says:

    I have one question about Silverlight: Where do we report bugs???

    I couldn’t find any specific location where I could report bugs to the betas that are out there.

    I understand that the MacBU is not in charge of Silverlight so I assume it’s a dedicated team somewhere else. Maybe the Silverlight for WIndows team. Considering how WMP turned out in a similar context, I take the fact that there is no way to send feedback as a very bad sign :-<

  42. Joel says:

    off topic: can I get the new fonts (Corbel, Calibri, etc) for Office 2004 on Mac somewhere?

  43. Magendanz says:

    Well, I’ve been designing and developing on Windows Presentation Foundation (the framework underlying Silverlight) for the last few months, and I have to admit that I’m hooked.  For Windows user interface design, there’s really no going back to Win32 or WinForms once you’ve made the switch.  It has all the flexibility of Flash with *real* code behind it, so you can do practically anything with a bare minimum of effort.  Frankly, I think it puts Cocoa to shame.

    However, I agree with the sentiment that Mac support is an afterthought at Microsoft, with MacBU being the one obvious exception.  Any development tools will likely significantly lag Windows, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Microsoft is, after all, in the business of selling Windows.  I suppose we should be glad that we’re not asking for Linux support.

    The thing to remember about anything based on the CLR is that code becomes much more portable across platforms.  As we learned with Java, the "write once, deploy everywhere" promise is a bit misleading, but there’s the potential here for a few hardcore MacHeads like Nathan and Jim to keep the CLR and .NET Framework in sync on the Mac, allowing *anything* written for Silverlight or WPF to migrate effortlessly to Mac OS X.  So in theory at least, WPF-based products like Expression Blend can be migrated to the Mac in a couple of man-months, rather than a dozens of man-years.

    Remember, WPF is being pitched as the replacement for Win32 and WinForms, so this could mean that even future 3rd-party Windows apps could run on Mac OS X with about the same cross-platform portability as Java.  No matter how you cut it, that’s a step in the right direction.

  44. Carsten Hansen says:

    Some people are able to use a search engine. Try "Report a Silverlight Bug". The first hit is http://silverlight.net/forums/28.aspx

  45. Terrin says:

    Sorry, I respect you guys at the MacBu, but no matter how good Silverlight may be, I wouldn’t support it. Its success would take from companies like Adobe, which actually does deliver cross platform support.

    Even with Office 2008, I will mention that Microsoft is killing cross platform support by eliminating some technologies that previously worked in the Mac version of Office, but will continue to work in the Windows version.

  46. Make expression web and designer available on the Mac, and release a pre-release public beta of Silverlight for Safari 3, then we’ll talk.  Until then, continue making a featureless Mac Messenger and keep talking about Office 2008.  You really need to do some type of Office public beta for the upcoming release, you’re driving people insane and into other office products because you’re being so vague and slow about the progress.  I think Silverlight is cool, but again, I don’t think it’s stable enough, not even compared to Flash which imho is only good enough, not anything earth shattering either.  The future is AJAX and FLEX-type languages, but dragging your feat, and feeding us chips of information really kills your marketing ability.  50% of "Switchers" are interested in Office if they’ve used it before, but you’re still making them run it through Rosetta, with no set date, and no real preview of what you’ve actually developed.  Be smart Microsoft, make sure your overseeing marketing department knows how serious the 8% marketshare (Up from ~3% in 2003) is for profits.  If they were smart they’d hire more Cocoa/Obj-C coders and be sure to follow the Apple HID, otherwise forget about making much from any of the Mac Microsoft products.

  47. Peter Ponomarev says:

    Hi Folks.

    Just thought I’d clarify a few things.

    1) Silverlight DOES run on PowerPC Macs.  It runs great on my PowerBook.

    2) Silverlight applications are ultimately specified as XAML (a type of XML).  This means Silverlight applications can be created on any platform with a generic text editor.  Expression Blend for Windows is the WYSIWYG editor.

    3) Because Silverlight is specified in XAML (as opposed to Flash’s binary .swfs) it is ridiculously easy to transform it, code it with JavaScript, localize it, etc.  Plus, learning SilverLight’s XAML is a great primer for learning the XAML used in Windows Presentation Foundation, allowing relatively novice developers to rapidly build full-featured client applications on Windows.

    Cheers!