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Silverlight 3.0 Released, Allows Apps Outside the Browser 335

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the trying-desperately-to-regain-the-cool-factor dept.
Many different sources are reporting that Microsoft has unleashed the third major version of Silverlight to the masses. With 3.0 we see things like better 3D graphics support, the ability to offload tasks to a GPU, and the ability to run apps outside of the browser. "Silverlight's video capabilities have always been impressive when compared to Flash, and the new version boasts some new features that should keep the competition with Flash hot. It uses a media broadcasting technology Microsoft calls Smooth Streaming, an adaptive technology for playing the same H.264 video stream at the highest bitrate the device and its bandwidth limitations will allow. So if you've got a fast computer with an HD monitor and a wide open pipe, you'll see super high quality video at up to full 1080p HD. If you've got a dinky smartphone with mid-level data service, you'll see a constrained version of the same video."
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Silverlight 3.0 Released, Allows Apps Outside the Browser

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  • 3D graphics support (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:18PM (#28651855) Journal

    3D graphics support does sound interesting, specially when thinking how many flash games there are out but how they lack better graphics. Maybe we start to see DirectX like games directly in web browser too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And then Chrome OS can run Silverlight which will run Windows 7 with Aero and everybody wins!

      • by DECS (891519) on Friday July 10, 2009 @02:45PM (#28653213) Homepage Journal

        Or more accurately, Chrome OS will push HTML 5 apps, making Flash and MS Flash (Silverlight) obsolete.

        Microsoft is already targeting Smooth Streaming as the trojan horse for pushing Silverlight (and already successfully managed to force anyone who wanted to watch the Olympics or the DNC last year to download Silverlight 2). However, Apple has done an end run around Microsoft by submitting very similar technology it calls HTTP Live Streaming to the IETF as a proposed standard, patterned after SHOUTcast/Icecast HTTP streaming of MP3 (basically upgrading Internet radio to Internet TV).

        And while Microsoft dutifully tries to push Silverlight out as The Only Client of its Smooth Streaming, Apple already has shipped HTTP Live Streaming in iPhone 3.0 to its installed base of +40 million active mobile iPhone/iPod Touch users, with partners Akamai and big name MPEG transport stream encoder vendors. In contrast, Smooth Streaming is designed to tie streaming only to Microsoft's streamer, IIS, and Silverlight on the client (surprise!).

        Any client that can play H.264/AAC audio/video from MPEG transport streams can play content targeted to the iPhone. You can serve it from any web server. You don't need to create an iPhone App to deliver content to the iPhone, it streams right from the web, right now. That means it will be easy for vendors such as Palm or Android to support streaming video targeted to the iPhone, despite having a much smaller installed base than the iPhone. And with the release of Snow Leopard, QuickTime X will stream HTTP Live Streaming from the desktop, and presumably, Apple TV.

        This tears away the primary need for Flash or MS Flash (Silverlight), paving the way open for HTML 5 to push compliant browsers (FireFox, Opera, Safari, other WebKit browsers) into the forefront and leave a dwindling minority on IE 6/7/8 with Silverlight/Flash. Best, HTML 5 can provide fallback, offering HTTP Live Streaming as the first option, H.264 progressive download as a secondary, Ogg Theora for Wikipedia hosting videos that won't play on any mobile devices outside of the desktop PC, and Flash for the Neanderthals among us.

        Apple launches HTTP Live Streaming standard in iPhone 3.0 [roughlydrafted.com] : with a timeline and history of Internet streaming and links to example sites.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tokerat (150341)

          This tears away the primary need for Flash or MS Flash (Silverlight), paving the way open for HTML 5 to push compliant browsers (FireFox, Opera, Safari, other WebKit browsers) into the forefront and leave a dwindling minority on IE 6/7/8 with Silverlight/Flash.

          Streaming MPEG and HTML 5 don't play games, unless you can run a server farm and stream the game image, or you want to make something horribly convoluted and possibly unstable. Either way - Silverlight would have made a great grab at Macromedia's market share...which was what, 5 years ago?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            ...HTML 5 do play games...

            here, Fixed that for you.
            (please check html 5 draft spec concerning the <canvas /> element)

    • by wfstanle (1188751) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:39PM (#28652177)

      Why would you want a security atrocity like DirectX? Aren't there enough security holes already? If anything, we should think about banning DirectX from the Web? We should also ban ActiveX.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sopssa (1498795) *

        I've never heard of any exploits targeting DirectX or someone breaking in via GPU. In a same way someone could exploit Windows sound driver via flash applet to break in. I dont think I've used any ActiveX objects for 10 years, and times have changed. Obviously security has also come up too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Java Pimp (98454)
          Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-050 [microsoft.com]: Vulnerability in DirectShow Could Allow Remote Code Execution (904706)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by causality (777677)

          I've never heard of any exploits targeting DirectX or someone breaking in via GPU. In a same way someone could exploit Windows sound driver via flash applet to break in. I dont think I've used any ActiveX objects for 10 years, and times have changed. Obviously security has also come up too.

          Speaking of ActiveX, am I missing something or does that part about "apps outside the browser" sound like a more modern reimplementation of the old ActiveX? By that I mean, whether it's "inside the browser" or in a different window, this still amounts to running executable code from remote hosts. Let's hope this isn't the security nightmare that ActiveX proved to be, and yes, it's reasonable to look at a company's track record when speculating about these matters.

          Like too many articles linked on Slashd

          • by miguel (7116) on Friday July 10, 2009 @02:39PM (#28653107) Homepage

            The difference is that Silverlight code is CIL bytecode that runs inside a sandbox.

            ActiveX was native code, and you only had two options: to trust or to not trust, but once you installed the code, the executable had as many rights on your system as any other application running with your user ID.

            Silverlight (and Moonlight) come with a sandbox that limits what the code that you download can do, for instance, they do not get direct access to any of your files.

      • by Rycross (836649)
        Er what? How is DirectX a security atrocity?
    • by timeOday (582209) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:44PM (#28652265)

      Maybe we start to see DirectX like games directly in web browser too.

      Too bad "we" doesn't include "me." My linux-based PVR can't run Netflix on demand because it's silverlight-based, so that's my main association with the technology. Hulu is also linking out to broadcaster's own incompatible streaming sites rather than hosting stuff itself. I fear we are returning to the bad old days of a few years ago when a lot of multimedia on the web was incompatible with linux. Poor linux users, under-represented minority that we are :)

      • My linux-based PVR can't run Netflix on demand because it's silverlight-based

        Virtualbox running windows does it for me. Not sure how you'd set that up on a PVR, but I watch netflix in using Linux on a desktop that way.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          I do that already. I sit on my couch with a laptop, start X11VNC on my PVR's TV display, start VNC Viewer on the laptop, start up VMWare on the PVR, start up XP in VMWare, connect the virtual sound card, full-screen VMWare, launch firefox, full-screen firefox, then close VNC Viewer on the laptop. It's completely ridiculous.
    • by rsclient (112577) on Friday July 10, 2009 @02:13PM (#28652695) Homepage

      It's not three-d graphics. It's layered two-d graphics with interesting transforms. You can make something look like it's flipping in or out, and you can do sprites, but you can't make a fully three-d game (that is, you can't rotate something around with bits sticking out).

      Why not? Because this approach gets you a bunch of cool effects without the pain of real 3D programming.

      (Disclaimer: I worked on silverlight)

      • by Dotren (1449427)

        Where are my mod points when I need them? Someone please mod this up informative.

        I really do hope they eventually add some sort of official 3D support (seems like I've seen someone implement a 3D engine into Silverlight somehow). Then again, perhaps we should wait and try to get rid of DirectX and OpenGL and try to get the card makers to create a full common API on the GPU first.

    • I don't see the need for better graphics in those games.

      The lack of "shiny" graphics means that in order to sell (the goal of all of those games) you have to make a really good and captivating game. How will games like Bejewled be improved by better graphics?

      Make the graphics "better" and you'll cut off a large number of potential players, simply because their computer won't be able to play those graphics

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:21PM (#28651871)

    They called it bitrate peeling.

  • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:22PM (#28651879)
    I think one of the most reasonable concerns against the rising usage of silverlight, and therefore the need for moonlight for linux, is that if new version of moonlight can't keep up with the updated version of silverlight then its not the multiplatform wonder that it should be to be competitive with flash.
    • by geekmux (1040042)

      I think one of the most reasonable concerns against the rising usage of silverlight, and therefore the need for moonlight for linux, is that if new version of moonlight can't keep up with the updated version of silverlight then its not the multiplatform wonder that it should be to be competitive with flash.

      Er, "moonlight"? Cripes, change the name already, sounds like an HD streaming porn plugin.

      Then again, like Flash or Silverlight isn't...

    • Adobe has yet to release a stable 64b Flash player for Linux. So Flash isn't a multiplatform wonder, either.

      • by ivan256 (17499)

        Adobe has yet to release a supported 64b Flash player for Linux. So Flash isn't a multiplatform wonder, either.

        Fixed that for you. The one from Adobe Labs works just fine.

        The majority of people still run 32-bit anyway. 64-bit linux on the desktop is a niche of a niche.

        • The 64b alpha Linux Flash player from Adobe Labs crashes about every ten minutes, bringing FireFox down with it. Supported? It's not even usable.

          • by ivan256 (17499)

            I use it constantly, and haven't experienced crashes.

            There was an issue with it when combined with an old version of adblock, and sites that used swfobject.js, but updating to a newer version of adblock fixed the problem.

            I don't know anything about your configuration, but I'd wager your issue is caused by another addon, and not Flash.

            Did you remove nspluginwrapper when you moved to the 64-bit player? You don't need it anymore, and the wrapper certainly *will* crash firefox constantly.

            • by ivan256 (17499)

              To be more specific, the latest version of AdBlock causes the problem, and updating to AdBlock Plus fixes it... Firefox will not automatically update this for you.

          • by jmorris42 (1458) *

            > The 64b alpha Linux Flash player from Adobe Labs crashes about every ten minutes, bringing FireFox down with it.

            So what? That is why it an ALPHA. Next will be a beta and perhaps an RC or two before a production release. Which is still better than the situation with Windows where there isn't anything for 64bit. Not that it matters since our tech is so much better we can run the 32bit Flash in a 64bit Firefox cleanly. That is what I have done for the last few years.

            Now what is the {silver|moon}light

    • Fine.

      Develop for the lowest common denominator, and things will work on both platforms. Also consider that not all Silverlight users will be using 3.0 immediately after its release.

      HTML5 will be released soon, but likely won't be implemented in the wild for another 3-4 years until most users are running supported browsers. CSS existed for several years before it was considered "safe" to use on a production site.

      • by DECS (891519)

        Wrong, HTML 5 is already implemented in Safari and Safari Mobile on the iPhone. It already supports audio/video tags and client side databases. Obviously things will continue to develop over the next few years, but its flatly inaccurate to talk about HTML 5 as if its several years out. It's here now, and its staunchly supported by the company that represents more than half of all mobile web traffic.

        Firefox, Chrome and Opera area also on board. And remember when IE was the reason nothing every happened becau

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      In my opinion, Flash is only marginally better. If yours isn't one of the platforms supported by Macromedia, you're still SOL. It just happens to be that Macromedia supports more platforms than Microsoft.

      On the other hand, I have the impression that, if you want to or need to use open source software (e.g. because your platform isn't supported by the closed-source implementation), you're better off with Silverlight. Not to knock the hard work of the folks developing open source Flash players, but I've never

  • by Serilleous (1400333) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:23PM (#28651905)

    and the ability to run apps outside of the browser.

    It seems to me like this offers a remarkable opportunity for some very serious vulnerabilities if it is not handled very very carefully.

    • by religious freak (1005821) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:28PM (#28651975)
      Exactly what I was thinking. But I would say that this is still more innovation from MS and they look to be getting their crap together a bit lately - that is I would say that, if this wasn't /.
      • by ivan256 (17499)

        If by "innovation", you mean "copying the feature list from Adobe Air and the next version of Flex so they could check the same boxes on the marketing literature without actually coming up with anything new", then...

        ...oh, wait. You were using the Microsoft definition of "innovation". I guess you're right then.

        • by Dotren (1449427)

          Unfortunately, I don't have a citation for this handy, but if I remember correctly, Adobe actually started making a lot of changes to Flex after Expression Blend hit the market for Silverlight and got a lot of positive feedback. So Microsoft isn't the only one who copies features AND Microsoft can be innovative on occasion.

          Really, it doesn't matter who copies from whom here, this is ALL good for consumers. Adobe finally has some competition (they're of course still winning on cross platform capability) an

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        The problem isn't how good your development teams are, because they will never be perfect and there will always be exploitable bugs somewhere. Actually, Bruce Schneier posted on his blog today about how it's demonstrably impossible to make an OS 100% virus proof.

        The problem is that Silverlight is a browser plug-in, and plug-ins are much more vulnerable than for example Javascript or SVG which run inside a sandbox inside the browser. At least with Flash everything is sandboxed in the browser still, but it no

        • by plague3106 (71849)

          Instead of spouting how insecure Silverlight is, perhaps actually READ something about it. Siliverlight OOB is STILL STANDBOXED. No file system access, nothing it couldn't do before has been added.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      I think this is more like running the apps on your desktop when you doubleclick the icon, like Flash players can do already. It doesn't mean all Silverlight apps on websites or even on your computer suddenly gets access to all your files and stuff.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      What difference does running in a browser make?
    • by plague3106 (71849)

      I suppose, if you only read the sentence and then never bother to look into how SL handles this...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Vahokif (1292866)
      Downloaded Silverlight apps run with the same permissions as embedded ones, meaning no filesystem access etc. The only difference is that they can use the function keys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)

      It seems to me like this offers a remarkable opportunity for some very serious vulnerabilities if it is not handled very very carefully.

      Like... what?

      If I download a SWF file to my desktop, and run it by double-clicking it, is it somehow less secure than if I run it in a browser?

    • Definately, we should never leave our homes.. its dangerous!

  • Woohoo party! Wait, ...has Mono's Moonlight even caught up with Silverlight 2.0 yet? ..Nope.

  • ...been impressive when compared to Flash? Really? Then why did mlb.com switch from Silverlight to Flash [cnet.com]? I remember when they did this - I had unsubscribed because the Silverlight player was such a mess, and I went back and signed up for the rest of the season.

    That said, the ability to write Silverlight apps in Ruby [silverlight.net] is interesting.

  • How long before Silverlight adds email support?

  • The Light (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Don't walk towards the Light. Run.

    Silverlight, although not widely used yet (less than 5% of market), is great and innovative compared to Flash which itself now requires a $1499 set of programs for development.

    Again, MS is building something better than the people who built it first. (OS, GUI, Office Tools, Chat, Browser, now Flash)

    MS is not a Monopoly by accident. They are a Monopoly by improvement.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      Hear, hear. It's a pity you posted as AC, because your post deserves being modded up.

      I may not fully agree with your list, but I agree with the gist of your post. Microsoft is full of really smart people and they do create good and useful products. They got where they are at least in part because their products were better than the competition's, and at least in part because their products were cheaper than the competition's. And, as far as I can see, they're still playing that game. Sure, not everything th

  • H.264 licensing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by reginaldo (1412879) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:42PM (#28652237)
    The one step up I see that Silverlight 3 has is licensing for H.264 codecs. Microsoft has the deep pockets to purchase licensing such as this.

    It is interesting that Moonlight is not currently pursuing H.264, which makes me wonder if MS is purposely gimping their linux/unix implementation.
    • Re:H.264 licensing (Score:5, Informative)

      by miguel (7116) on Friday July 10, 2009 @04:08PM (#28654301) Homepage

      Moonlight will have H.264, but we are working towards our first beta of Moonlight 2.0

  • Sounds nice, but.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Seth Kriticos (1227934) on Friday July 10, 2009 @01:45PM (#28652275)
    ..I still think that Microsoft did not understand what the Internet is about: interoperability. You can create whatever nice framework you want - as long as it is not supported by many systems the adoption rate will be slim. If they would make the API a public standard (that is not restricted) then people might adapt, if it is any good.

    Now I know, someone will surely insist that the Windows platform still has the majority of the market share and most users don't care, but you see, most users also don't write applications, and as long as you try to feed BS to the later group of people, you are going nowhere.

    Another thing is I see is that the Silverlight frameworks seems to have some severe design issues as it is necessary to bring out a new version seemingly every half year. A well designed platform would try to get the basics right in the first few iterations and then add libraries to it that provide more functionality without having to do a 180 on the whole basic coding.

    Guess this will even turn down Microsoft sympathising developers as they can't keep up with the change that's happening continuously. I mean many people are fed up that everything Microsoft does is obsolete in three years time and you can start anew with learning and development (see VB, classic ASP and so forth).

    Another thing is, that though the feature list sounds impressive, there are a lot of undressed issues like security that is a very important one with this kind of networked technology.
    • It will catch on. They'll get a bunch of Visual Studio programmers to use it, and then a bunch of companies will use it for their internal stuff, then prototypes will hit production, and it will snowball, leaving Linux users unable to use a bunch of business specific applications and unable to see a million punch-the-monkey ads.

    • by miguel (7116)

      They understand that quite well.

      Which is why Microsoft has given us access to all of their test suites for Silverlight and the .NET runtime used in Silverlight to ensure that Moonlight is compatible with their implementation.

    • ..I still think that Microsoft did not understand what the Internet is about: interoperability. You can create whatever nice framework you want - as long as it is not supported by many systems the adoption rate will be slim. If they would make the API a public standard (that is not restricted) then people might adapt, if it is any good.

      You mean like Moonlight? The free implementation of Silverlight? Silverlight runs in IE, Firefox on Windows, Safari, Firefox on Mac, and Firefox in Linux (x86 and x64) through Moonlight. It's coming to mobile soon, too.

      Now I know, someone will surely insist that the Windows platform still has the majority of the market share and most users don't care, but you see, most users also don't write applications, and as long as you try to feed BS to the later group of people, you are going nowhere.

      What? Why does this matter? It's a cross platform and browser dynamic content plugin, not unlike Flash.

      Another thing is I see is that the Silverlight frameworks seems to have some severe design issues as it is necessary to bring out a new version seemingly every half year. A well designed platform would try to get the basics right in the first few iterations and then add libraries to it that provide more functionality without having to do a 180 on the whole basic coding.

      What the Hell are you talking about? This is a new feature release, not a bugfix. Silverlight 1.1 code will run fine in Silverlight 3, etc. This is simply a newer expanded version of the la

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      I still think that Microsoft did not understand what the Internet is about: interoperability.

      That may be how the Internet looks to the geek.

      But there are a growing number of "gated communities" that simply use the net as a connecting link:

      Steam. Netflix. YouTube, MySpace, WoW and so on.

      Now I know, someone will surely insist that the Windows platform still has the majority of the market share and most users don't care, but you see, most users also don't write applications, and as long as you try to feed

  • The list of new features looks very familiar to the new Flash player that came out a while back: Hardware Acceleration, 3D Capabilities, Dynamic Streaming (Variable Bitrate), Etc.. http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/features/ [adobe.com]
  • by icebike (68054) on Friday July 10, 2009 @02:01PM (#28652531)

    > the ability to run apps outside of the browser.

    What could Possibly go wrong with that?!?

    • by Dotren (1449427)

      > the ability to run apps outside of the browser.

      What could Possibly go wrong with that?!?

      At least it still runs in a sandbox.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StrawberryFrog (67065)

      Icebike asked: What could Possibly go wrong with that?!?

      You tell me.

      It's in the same security sandbox as when it's running in the browser - it doesn't have the ability to read or write the file system outside of it's own size-limited isolated storage bin, it can't take keyboard input when full-screen, has no access to webcams and mikes, and it can't send or receive data at websites that it didn't download from unless they opt in.

      Maybe you had something specific in mind that nobody else had thought of in th

  • Even when that competition comes from Microsoft. We all complain - and justly so - about Microsoft's monopolistic behavior; but Adobe's "software monopoly" has allowed it to continue releasing bloated crapware across most of its product line. Flash seems to be the biggest pig in the pen, too, in terms of resources needed for what it does.

    Flash's one big plus, as I see it, is its wider cross-platform availability; but given Adobe's past behavior with regards to Apple, it would not be surprising to see Adobe

  • Argh, recursion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shish (588640) on Friday July 10, 2009 @02:13PM (#28652701) Homepage

    So basically after all this time and effort, the current state of the art wonderful new technology is "the thick client"? Colour me unimpressed :-/

    People really need to stop being amazed every time the paradigm switches from thin client to thick and back, only each time with more abstraction layers...

    • by Dan667 (564390)
      I think Microsoft is trying to keep the OS relevant. With Google trying to move to a cloud OS, this would make sense for Microsoft to do. However, Microsoft would be more successful if they worried more about the people using their software than making third parties like the movie industry happy and what their competitors are doing.

/earth: file system full.

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