Monday, July 7, 2008

Two limits with Silverlight (Beta 2)

[This was originally posted at]

Silverlight has several fundamental benefits. However, there's always a flip-side, and it has some shortcomings too. There are at least two major limits that I see:

  1. Silverlight requires a separate plug-in. Although Flash also requires a plug-in, Flash has something like 98% market share, and is essentially as available as JavaScript. For Silverlight though, this separate plug-in will make many business sponsors take a second look. Of course, MS knows this and is actively working on it - they'll use the full dominance of MS sites (hotmail, msn, etc...) to prompt your to download Silverlight, they'll make it an automatic update so system admins can easily install it across the enterprise, they'll include it in future products, they'll convince popular sites to use it, and hence encourage all those extra viewers to download it. This separate plug-in is a limit, but not a show-stopper, especially for private or intranet apps.

  2. Silverlight is still a very young technology. After the JS release, and a 2.0 alpha, beta1, and beta2, it still doesn't even have a combo box! However, I'd expect that the Microsoft eco-system will rush to fill in these gaps via open source and the Silverlight community. Silverlight is young, but I'd expect the Microsoft faithful and developer community will make it grow fast.

As a developer, I realize that Silverlight has its problems, and an uphill climb, but I'm optimistic. I think that soon its strengths will outweigh its weaknesses.

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