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New Microsoft Silverlight Features Have Windows Bias 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the open-is-as-open-does dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this quote from a story at El Reg about an early look at the Silverlight 4 beta: "There are ... major changes to Silverlight's out-of-browser functionality, a loose equivalent to Adobe Systems' AIR runtime for Flash. Even when fully sandboxed, which means having the same permissions that would apply to a browser-hosted Silverlight applet, out-of-browser applications get an HTML control, custom window settings, and the ability to fire pop-up notifications. ... Unfortunately, some of these features are not what they first appear. The HTML control in Silverlight 4 is not a new embedded browser from Microsoft, but uses components from Internet Explorer on Windows, or Safari on the Mac, which means that the same content might render differently. The HTML control only works out-of-browser, and simply displays a blank space if browser-hosted. Clipboard support is text-only in the Silverlight 4 beta, though this could change for the full release. More seriously, COM automation is a Windows-only feature, introducing differentiation between the Mac and Windows implementations."
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New Microsoft Silverlight Features Have Windows Bias

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:01PM (#30179870)
    For those not up to speed on the windows acronyms, COM automation is just another word for ActiveX. It's exactly the same thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLE_Automation#cite_ref-5 [wikipedia.org]
    • by Kratisto (1080113) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:05PM (#30179906)
      No it's not. ActiveX was the source of countless security bugs. COM Automation is new and sexy and contains a TLA.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by segedunum (883035)
        ActiveX was the sexy name for COM, so it was the other way around. I find it amusing that after nigh on ten years of .Net and MSDN magazine telling us to rewrite everything, COM automation and access is still needed. I'm puzzled though, because COM within Windows is a huge behemoth and the security implications for giving a web-based browser platform access to it, even if it is almost certainly limited, is going to be rather interesting. Mind you, if they expect Silverlight to be the future of Windows clien
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by MightyMartian (840721)

          So what you're saying is that any time now they'll announce Windows 9 will be written in Silverlight!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          It's worth noting that COM isn't actually a Windows-only standard. It's a fairly simple specification defining a Simula-like object model in a language-independent way. Apple uses it for things like Spotlight and QuickLook plugins on OS X and it's pretty trivial to implement it on other platforms too. It just defines a way of storing function pointers in interface structures. You could probably turn GObject into a COM implementation with a few minor tweaks if you wanted to. ActiveX tries to build a Sma
    • by jpmorgan (517966) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:04PM (#30181048) Homepage

      Close, but not quite. ActiveX is a COM component that implements the IDispatch interface. IDispatch is a 'meta' interface that allows dynamic binding to COM objects, rather than the purely static binding that COM defines, allowing COM objects to be called from dynamic languages (like JavaScript). From a purely technological perspective, it's quite slick really, and if you've ever played around in Win32 Python you'll know what I mean.

      The security problems with ActiveX was that Microsoft exposed these low-level interfaces to untrusted websites through JavaScript, opening up an enormous attack surface (as now many ActiveX objects on your system, which were never designed with security in mind, were being called from untrusted JavaScript and running under local user permissions). Worse, was allowing websites to request the installation of ActiveX objects themselves. So yeah.... clever technology but a TERRIBLE use.

      • Userspace object/API access is a difficult problem for everybody. This is part of the beauty of XP SP2, as user is demoted from admin/root and the access only (hopefully) as an affect on userspace.

        The problem is too many interface points, and no parsing between and among objects that pipe to these access points. Nowadays these local controls are vastly more limited and the damage that can be done is much smaller.

        And it seems ludicrous to me to expect Microsoft not to favor its own platform; after all, it no

  • History (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:02PM (#30179880)
    Anybody who didn't see this coming when MS came out hard about the "amazing cross compatibility besting Adobe!" a few years ago is insane. This is the same old shit they have pulled time and time again. At least they let the cat out of the bag before this needless plug-in gained any real traction. And no I'm no Flash fan. Adobe treats us like dogs too.
    • Re:History (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:05PM (#30179916) Journal

      Who the fuck cares? Just how many people actually use Silverlight anyways? They might as well release "Steve Ballmer's Excrement Beta 4 - Now With More Cherry Flavoring!"

      • Re:History (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:08PM (#30179942) Homepage Journal
        Mod parent up, you fucking' philistines. Silverlight is the Zune of application frameworks.
        • by Tawnos (1030370)

          So it's less used, but after a few iterations, superior in every way to the predominant market holder? :)

      • Re:History (Score:4, Informative)

        by mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:26PM (#30180146)
        So Netflix, the Olympics and the US Presidential Inauguration aren't high profile enough for you? Just because you have a seething inner hatred towards MS doesn't mean no one uses their technology.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Two singular events that are long over and a single company don't constitute widespread use.

          • There are plans to use Silverlight for the 2010 winter olympics [techcrunch.com] as well. It seems to be a trend.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              We should be boycotting the Olympics then. This is unacceptable.

            • Re:History (Score:4, Interesting)

              by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:10PM (#30181086)
              That may well be true; the Olympics committe doesn't feel it is responsible to anybody and will do anything for money. However; if we judge from history the complaints and problems this will raise will help set back Silverlight acceptance. After the way it was done last time nobody sensible would use silverlight for anything. In fact I'd suggest everybody get ready; set up a system which doesn't work with silverlight and then complain about it, but most of us on Slashdot probably already have several and it really isn't needed anyway.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              There are plans to use Silverlight for the 2010 winter olympics as well. It seems to be a trend.

              Trend? NBC is essentially the mainstream media partner of Microsoft. It seems to me your "trend" is just Microsoft marketing doing their best to buy their way into high-profile events to sway peoples' minds. I don't see this happening elsewhere at other high-profile media events and outlets.

              The only trend I see here is Microsoft developing a piece of technology that doesn't play well with others. If history is any guide, this will annoy everyone for awhile before coming back to bite MS in the ass.

        • by EvilIdler (21087)

          Netflix and US presidents: Not available in Europe, although Obama is visiting Norway these days. I doubt they're keeping him, though. He's just a loaner.

          Olympics? Come on. This is Slashdot.

        • Re:History (Score:4, Informative)

          by tthomas48 (180798) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:45PM (#30180372) Homepage

          Those are high profile, but use kind of drops off after that. Sharply.

          It's great if you want to stream DRM content and don't want to use flash. Otherwise the java and flash plugins are more widely installed for the stuff that silverlight's trying to do. They're late to the party and except for DRM they don't really have a compelling story for why someone would want to use their technology.

        • Re:History (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @01:44AM (#30182234)

          It's not widespread use when Microsoft is giving you freebies and (in effect) paying you/making deals that cost them money, to use the technology, just so more people will be required to install the software and become aware of it.

          IOW, the Netflix and Olympics using silverlight are very likely specific efforts by MS marketing/sales.

          With the right freebies from MS (where using Flash costs something), or with the right kickbacks/sponsorships/friendly meals bought for the right people to discuss silver light.....

          IOW: these few high profile sites using it don't indicate widespread use, only very strong efforts by MS.

      • Re:History (Score:4, Informative)

        by coolsnowmen (695297) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:29PM (#30180186)

        I believe netflix instant viewing is written on top of silverlight.

        • That would explain why it sucks so bad. Has to recalibrate every 10 or 15 minutes because my connection speed has diminished.

          Yeah, I have crappy DSL, but Hulu manages to deal with it much better than Netflix via Silverlight..
          • I have crappy DSL and Netflix never recalibrates.

            Hulu just gives you shite picture.

      • by Afforess (1310263)
        Netflix uses Silverlight. That's a pretty big crowd right there. And If I recall correctly, the Olympics were broadcast online with Silverlight.
      • Steve Ballmer's Excrement Beta 4 - Now With More Cherry Flavoring!

        I thought that was the internal name for Vista? Must have missed that memo.

        Trying to tie Silverlight to their OS is pretty par for the MS course. Take promising technology, a concept made popular by another company and run it straight into the ground.

      • Re:History (Score:4, Funny)

        by Frosty Piss (770223) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:55PM (#30180452)

        Who the fuck cares? Just how many people actually use Silverlight anyways?

        "Back in the day" when Netscape was king, how many people used IE? Microsoft will keep pounding away with Silverlight to the large "enterprise" clients, and eventually, one day, it will pass Flash. At that point, AOL will merge with Adobe, and it'll be all over.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          Remind me why that's bad. Flash sucks, period. Sliverlight has it's own issues, but at least it's something that isn't Flash or shockwave. Macromedia and now Adobe have had their chance, completely screwed it up, now it's time for somebody else to try.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DarkOx (621550)

          Enterprise clients is exactly how they are planning to get in the door. COM integration says it all. Microsoft is really competing with their own technology as a first step, Adobe is down the road. They need to get silver light on the corporate desktops first. That way people can use it watch football highlights and clips of the Olympics on their lunch break; its after that they decide they want it at home and take the time to install it.

          Microsoft has push a great deal of their tech out the door that wa

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MightyMartian (840721)

            Now we can talk about the security problems and piles of bugs in COM all day long; but its one of the really useful things Microsoft has put into Windows, and it really is better than any of its competitors.

            Well it's certainly made coding viruses and malware substantially easier.

      • Re:History (Score:5, Informative)

        by Azheim (1197149) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:21PM (#30181164)

        Unfortunately, some of us have to.

        I'm a med student, and many of my lectures are viewed and reviewed at home via MediaSite, a Silverlight-based lecture management system from Sonicfoundry. While our lectures do play in Firefox, Safari, and Chrome with the Silverlight plugin, advanced features (such as the ability to play the lecture at whatever speed you wish) are only available in Internet Explorer. The crippling of Silverlight in competing browsers has forced me to return to IE.

      • by Yold (473518)

        netflix watch instantly... a couple other major web video players use it too.

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      i know, if there is one thing i wish the OSS community would make a decent competitor to, it's flash. silverlight looks promising, but this kills it for me outside of work.
      • Re:History (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:18PM (#30180088)

        Any web page plugin that exists outside of the normal flow of browser control and navigation history is a bad idea. Perhaps HTML5 will go some way to addressing this, which Microsoft will presumably get round to working towards some time around IE12 at their current rate of non-progress.

        One hilarious comment on MSDN about this, to paraphrase, was that is was "unfair that Microsoft was expected to keep modifying its browser to account for all these new standards competitors keep coming up with." and that they should "stop making new standards and give Microsoft a chance to implement existing ones." Or as I like to think of it, "stop the world, Microsoft needs to catch up."

        • by ClubStew (113954)
          Actually, Silverlight 3 supports browser navigation with very little work on the Silverlight developer's part. Without refreshing the page, it adds to the history by using bookmarks and clicking back does work. Also with very little work is a way to represent the same data in the web page via server output using SEO extensions, so content is still searchable. Sure you have to code a minimal UI with the same data, but with shared business objects and a thinweight UI layer you can achieve this pretty simply.
      • by Korin43 (881732)
        The thing is, instead of releasing plugins, the Open Source community is just agreeing on standards in browsers (so theoretically, any brower that can do javascript and html5 can do whatever you want without a plugin).
    • by pyrbrand (939860)
      I think this is actually more of a result of there being two audiences interested in Silverlight. The first is the audience interested in Silverlight as a media streaming or flash replacement browser plugin. For them, nothing changes. These new Windows only features are more for the other audience which is client app developers looking for a lightweight replacement to .Net (one that doesn't take at least 30 minutes to install!). For them SL was interesting in that it was easy to deploy, but they could g
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:05PM (#30179910)

    Pope discovered to be Catholic

    Bears recorded shitting in woods.

  • It's a trap!

    /Wait... am I late? I'm always late to these things. It WAS a trap. The next one is not a trap though. The next one will be just fine. Trust me.

  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:16PM (#30180056)

    I really want to run Silverlight in Ubuntu! Well, no that was sarcasm, but Linux should be mentioned when one talks about cross comparability. We should not allow the meme to emerge that the only options are Mac or windows.

    • by Draek (916851)

      Linux compatibility is handled by Mono's Moonlight project, and I doubt they'll be retarded enough to implement this functionality in such a stupid, problematic way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cbhacking (979169)

      Moonlight. From the same folks who brought you Mono (and sharing much of the code), Moonlight is a free, open-source implementation of Silverlight runnable on Linux, *BSD, and so forth. It's under pretty heavy development, and like Mono itself tends to lag somewhat behind the MS version (unsurprisingly), but it's usable for many of the things that require Silverlight.

      Download link (may also be in repositories): http://www.go-mono.com/moonlight/ [go-mono.com]
      Download for development version (2 beta 8): http://go-mono.com/ [go-mono.com]

  • Isn't the idea to wait to lock in until, oh, at least 10% of the population is actually using your product?

    How surprising that MS couldn't hold off that long.

  • by wandazulu (265281) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:23PM (#30180122)

    ...thank God.

    Only Microsoft has the peculiar genius that allows them to take a relatively straightforward concept (reference counting/smart pointers) add a totally over-the-top, incomprehensible library that was designed around the limitations of the broken template support in VC6 (ATL), then totally abandon it for "teh new shiny" because you lost a court case against Sun (.net).

    I have written a *lot* of code in ATL, and I regret practically every moment of it; I liked the idea of COM/ActiveX, it's actually a really cool concept, and it even seemed to have an awesome future (all these COM objects that could talk to each other...Excel could control my toaster via my custom ActiveX dll) but suddenly it became all about the web and the era of a component-laden operating system ended before it really ever began. So for that I slogged through a bunch of ATL books, got to the point where I thought I knew how it all worked, and then all Microsoft wanted talk about was C# and .net.

    • This is why being a Microsoft developer sucks. You learn one shiny knew complicated kludgy technology and then they throw it all away when the next shiny new version of windows comes out. The new shiny new kludge has pretty much the same function and api but everything's named differently and it has a whole slew up different quirks and gotchas to work around.

      • So you are complaining that Microsoft changes too much. Another commenter in this story is complaining that Microsoft is complaining that the world is changing too fast and MS can't keep up.

        I suppose being a web dev is bad, too, because CSS keeps changing and browsers keep changing and ... man, why can't we just learn something and use it for the next 20 years?

        • by msclrhd (1211086)

          The CSS and JavaScript you knew yesterday will still work today. HTML is slightly different, but the core is the same, and is easy with tools like html tidy to clean up; the actual markup remains (mostly) the same.

          With Microsoft and their ever changing shiny APIs is that they want you to use something *completely different* to what you are using yesterday in each release of Windows (GDI+, .NET, WinForms, WPF) in a way that if you want to support new shiny API you need to rewrite your existing application. O

        • So you are complaining that Microsoft changes too much. Another commenter in this story is complaining that Microsoft is complaining that the world is changing too fast and MS can't keep up.

          These things are not contradictory. In fact one causes the other. The fact that MS spends it's entire time dreaming up ways to inconvenience users of other products means that it seldom has time to do the needed improvements to it's own software. It also means that their products become Byzantinely complex slowing down their own development.

    • ATL and COM didn't go away. It's still there, a lot of Windows APIs are built on top of it, a lot of Microsoft applications also are, and it's still the best way to do cross-language, interprocess components. .NET fully supports COM interop, and new features are still being added to improve that (a whole slew in the upcoming C# 4.0, for example).

    • by caywen (942955)

      My eyes are still rolling with ActiveX. Asking users to decide to trust or not trust unmanaged code is such a crappy model. Everyone except Microsoft knew it from the start, and it only took them a decade to realize that even code written with the best intentions can be a real threat if it's even partially unmanaged.

      (btw, I mean "managed" in a more general sense, not specifically the .NET environment)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:27PM (#30180152)

    Obviously this is some kind of mistake. Miguel assured all us Linux users that Microsoft was a changed company, they would NEVER do something like this! Surely Moonlight would be 100% compatible with Silverlight and Linux would be considered a tier 1 platform!

    He wouldn't have lied, would he?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      He didn't like, Miguel is just the dumbest chump that ever came along. The guy was born with a sign on his back that said "Stick Your Hand Up My Ass And Move My Mouth!"

      Everything Microsoft does is a time bomb, or crippled to ruin the competition.

  • This is from the folks who claim linux support, but then refuse to supply the DRM package needed to actually use it.

    Either you want to compete with Flash or you want to use this to promote windows, you can't have it both ways.

  • by awitod (453754) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:36PM (#30180268)

    It has the ability to support older API's that aren't available on all platforms. Developers who care about maximum cross-platform reach just won't use them. On the flip-side, if it didn't allow interop with the old stuff, the current adopters would be pissed for obvious reasons.

    This way the people creating Silverlight apps have freedom of choice and choice is good.

    As far as IE goes, I have a product that integrates with IE. I looked closely at Webkit and Gecko. Neither one is very friendly to program against with .NET and the API's don't expose nearly as much automation capability as IE. If the maintainers of those browsers want developers to embed them in desktop apps as an alternative, they need to make an investment.

    Why should Microsoft do it? As far as I know, anyone can create and distribute Silverlight components. If you want a good API for WPF/Silverlight for Gecko, talk to the Mozilla Foundation. I'd be glad to have it, but I'm not mad at Microsoft because it doesn't exist. (BTW, I am aware of GeckoFx and XulRunner. The API is very shallow compared to the IE COM interfaces.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by h4rr4r (612664)

      When you picked .Net you decided against portability. The maintainers of those browsers are not interested in you using their work to make a not portable app. Why should they be?

      More over if you used IE for display in your app we can all rest assured nothing of value was lost for those of us who cannot run it. I have never seen a decent app that did this and am very sure I never will.

      • by awitod (453754)

        Everything in the app I mentioned is compatible under mono except for the browser integration (at least it was at that point, wouldn't swear to it now). We went with IE because the full API did what was required. I appreciate that we could have created our own API to Gecko, but from what we saw, the crucial bits were missing. More to the point our goal was to create an application that happened to have some browser functionality - not to create a rich API to a platform when a ready to use alternative was al

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      As a developer you have a lot more freedom with gecko or webkit, you don't need to automate the browser or its rendering engine, you can modify it to do exactly what you want, or incorporate its code into your program and call its internal functions directly.
      There's nothing stopping you from implementing the api that you want.

      How many developers will care about cross-platform?
      Some developers create cross platform apps by default, but the vast majority create them by accident using cross platform languages..

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RingDev (879105)

        I wouldn't say that's quite a fair estimate in this case. Silverlight apps are still cross platform (mine run identically on Win 2k, 2k3, 2k8, XP, Vista, 7, and even a few Mac clients running IE6, 7, 8, and FF3.5) and will continue to be so in v4. But, if you call COM services, they only exist in Windows anyways. So who' cares that the COM functionality only exists in the windows bin, so long as it compiles and throws an exception when COM services aren't available for Mac bins.

        This is hardly the dreaded lo

  • by jeanph01 (700760) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:36PM (#30180274)

    Each time I read about silverlight I get angry. Why won't Microsoft invest time and energy making IE html5 compliant instead of promoting this f*** product that nobody wants anyway. I mean, look at the competition for god sake. IE is stuck with Javascript 1.5 since November 2000. Man we are now 9 years since Ms has updated its Javascript engine. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, name it, all have javascript support almost if not ready for ECMAScript 5.

    What is comforting in a way is the low deployment of silverlight. Google can give us a slight idea : http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=adobe%20flash%2Cmicrosoft%20silverlight&date=today%2012-m&cmpt=q [google.com]
    I know at least that it is not deployed at work : 20,000 less pcs for Microsoft + the 2 mine at home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dragonshed (206590)

      Perhaps you should click on the "Learn what these numbers mean" link. Here, I'll do it for you:

      The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don't represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100. Each point on the graph is divided by the highest point, or 100. When we don't have enough data, 0 is shown. The numbers next to the search terms above the graph are summaries, or totals.

      The number of searches in google has no objective relation to the number of deployments, for either flash or silverlight.

      Farnsworth: "Bunk! Bunk, I say! Bring me a bag of Bigfoot's droppings, or shut up!"

    • I don't know where they are in terms of language support (not great, if Acid3 is any indication), but IE8's JavaScript engine was a massive step up from IE7's and an even more massive step up from IE6. It's more standards-compliant (i.e. less incorrect behavior), implements more of the spec (not necessarily any of the newest changes to the spec, but more of the language as a whole), and is much, much faster than before.

      Don't get me wrong, it's still way behind the other big-name browsers, but claiming 9 years since MS updated the javascript engine is a bald-faced lie.

    • The short answer is, they're not trying to solve the problem you think (or want) they're trying to solve.

    • >> Why won't Microsoft invest time and energy making IE html5 compliant

      Looks like they will bring it closer to compliance in IE9.

      Silverlight exists because HTML5 and Flash suck ass as a development platform if you want to develop desktop-class applications and deploy them over the web. I'm sorry, that's just a fact of life. Just look at Google Docs. It will never be full fidelity until it is rebuilt on top of the platform actually designed to run applications, not just display content.

      Sun had a tremen

  • Microsoft today announced the release of version 4.0 of its world-beating Silverlight multimedia platform for the Web. As a replacement for Adobe’s Flash, it is widely considered utterly superfluous and of no interest to anyone who could be found [today.com].

    “We have a fabulous selection of content partners for Silverlight,” announced Microsoft marketer Scott Guthrie on his blog today. “NBC for the Olympics, which delivered millions of new users to BitTorrent. The Democrat National Convention, which is fine because those Linux users are all Ron Paul weirdos anyway. It comes with rich frameworks, rich controls, rich networking support, a rich base class library, rich media support, oh God kill me now. My options are underwater, my resumé’s a car crash, Google won’t call me back. My life is an exercise in futility. I’m the walking dead, man. The walking dead.”

    Silverlight was created by Microsoft to leverage its desktop monopoly on Windows, to work off the tremendous sales and popularity of Vista. Flash is present on a pathetic 96% of all computers connected to the Internet, whereas Silverlight downloads are into the triple figures.

    “But it’s got DRM!” cried Guthrie. “Netflix loved it! And web developers love us too, after all we did for them with IE 6. Wait, come back! We’ll put porn on it! Free porn!”

    Similar Microsoft initiatives include its XPS replacement for Adobe PDF, its HD Photo replacement for JPEG photographs and its earlier Liquid Motion attempt to replace Flash. Also, that CD-ROM format Vista defaults to which no other computers can read.

    In a Microsoft internal security sweep, Guthrie’s own desktop was found to still be running Windows XP.

  • Speaking of Bias.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dragonshed (206590) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:42PM (#30180342)

    From TFA:

    Unfortunately, some of these features are not what they first appear. The HTML control in Silverlight 4 is not a new embedded browser from Microsoft, but uses components from Internet Explorer on Windows, or Safari on the Mac, which means that the same content might render differently. The HTML control only works out-of-browser, and simply displays a blank space if browser-hosted.

    The difference in rendering between IE on Windows and Safari on Macosx is a reality, whether silverlight is involved or not. The purpose of the HTML Control is to allow scenarios dependent on the HTML Bridge, the part of silverlight that blurs the lines and allows communication between the html dom + javascript and C# code, to run correctly when the app is hosted out of the browser. It's essentially a crutch to allow developers that want to use siverlight a way to leverage existing investments in web application development.

    More seriously, COM automation is a Windows-only feature, introducing differentiation between the Mac and Windows implementations. Since cross-platform Mac and Windows is a key Silverlight feature, it is curious that Microsoft has now decided to make it platform-specific in such an important respect. Microsoft Office and parts of the Windows API have a COM interface, so access to COM makes Silverlight a much more capable client.

    This is a fairly obscure feature, and I'm fairly surprised that it was included at all, but doubt it'll be of use to the vast majority of current and future silverlight developers out there. Like the html control, it's a crutch, to allow developers that want to use silverlight a way to leverage existing investments. The mantra I've heard out of the silverlight team is to focus on unblocking customer scenarios (scenarios they cannot unblock themselves) without compromising the overall feature goals (like keeping the runtime download small).

    Nevertheless, Silverlight has crossed a threshold. It is now a runtime that has extended functionality only on Windows. That will not help Microsoft win developers from Adobe AIR, which has the same features on both Mac and Windows.

    I don't think it'll matter. Any developer that is seriously considering using silverlight over Adobe AIR, but is then persuaded not to because Silverlight's Trusted Out-Of-Browser scenario has COM support on Windows and not on Mac is "Doing It Wrong". It's an edge case feature that doesn't affect Silverlight's over all "Cross-Platforminess".

    Flame On.

    • This is a fairly obscure feature, and I'm fairly surprised that it was included at all, but doubt it'll be of use to the vast majority of current and future silverlight developers out there....
      I don't think it'll matter. Any developer that is seriously considering using silverlight over Adobe AIR, but is then persuaded not to because Silverlight's Trusted Out-Of-Browser scenario has COM support on Windows and not on Mac is "Doing It Wrong".

      Then why on earth put any effort forth on this? Has the rest of Sil

  • Features? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:42PM (#30180346) Journal

    So far, the only feature in TFS that I can see as having "Windows bias" is ActiveX support. Which is kinda not surprising (I mean, who doesn't know that ActiveX is "that evil Windows thing" - even people who don't even understand what it is and how it works?). Qt also has an ActiveX support module, and it doesn't make it any less cross-platform - no-one forces you to use it. Same applies here.

    • Re:Features? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruising-slashdot@yahoo. c o m> on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:08PM (#30181076) Homepage Journal

      Thank you for a voice of sanity and reason. The fact that you can embed COM objects in the latest version of Silverlight does nothing to harm Silverlight on other platforms; it simply means that if you (as a developer) are willing to limit yourself to Windows users, you can now embed third-party controls written in C++ into your desktop app (what a bizarre concept, I know...) If you want portability, you don't use this feature (any more than if a Java developer wants portability, he doesn't rely on a native code module that does registry I/O).

      • by PitaBred (632671)
        What it does is make every platform other that Windows a second-class platform. That's not "sanity and reason". That's apologizing for Microsoft's normal "embrace, extend, extinguish" product development cycle.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:05PM (#30180568)

    The HTML control in Silverlight 4 is not a new embedded browser from Microsoft, but uses components from Internet Explorer on Windows, or Safari on the Mac, which means that the same content might render differently.

    So on the Mac it'll use Webkit, which means it'll render correctly. On Windows it'll use IE, which means... okay, anyone who's done any web development at all knows what that means.

    I guess I'm not seeing the "pro-Windows bias" here - it looks like an anti-Windows bias to me!

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:23PM (#30180710) Homepage

    WTF? If I'm viewing something on my Mac, I want it to use Safari components, so it will behave like I'm used to on the Mac. If I'm viewing the same thing on Windows, I want it to use IE components, so it will behave like I'm used to on Windows. This is a good thing.

  • Microsoft software quality again.

    Seriously, is anyone not payed by microsoft using this Silverlight stuff?

  • Who would have thought, Microsoft and platform lock-in?

  • New Microsoft Silverlight Features Have Windows Bias

    Oh the shock!!!!! Who would ever of expected Microsoft to pull a low-down dirty trick like that?

    This is sarcasm. I'm being sarcastic.

  • BFD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by McBeer (714119)
    I really don't see why everybody is acting like the sky is falling over this. The level of cross platform compatibility is not changing in any significant way. Virtually nobody is going to use the Windows only com automation. It only works in a full trust out of browser Silverlight app. 99.5% of Silverlight use is in browser and of that remaining 0.5% most are partial trust apps. I can't think of why somebody with these requirements wouldn't just use WPF honestly.

    Here's a more comprehensive listing of [silverlight.net]
  • Answer me this: does explorer continue to show ONLY windows partitions? I'm
    sure many of you will chime in, oh you can add such-and-such and it will
    display ext3/ext4 and so on; to you people, I say Whoosh

    I'm talking about out-of-the-box behavior. Does it continue this denial that
    other partitions (formed by other OS's) are there, and have data in them that
    I may want to access while in Windows? Puh-lease, if I'm paying for the
    Premium Edition, I want Premium Edition, not clearance corner bargain
    bin Norton wanna

  • by localtoast (611553) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @02:53AM (#30182484) Journal
    The full .Net framework has a lot of hacks to support COM. Your STA running managed code can get preempted at any time to Release COM objects behind RCWs that get garbage collected. This can cause interesting stress bugs. It gets even worse when an RCW around an STA gets finalized on the finalizer thread. That blocks the finalizer thread, because it waits for .Net to Release the COM object on the original STA thread. If the STA thread is in a wait state, you can hang the finalizer thread. Another big issue is around supplying alternative credentials for DCOM. .Net has no exposure of the CoCreateInstanceEx API that allows you to specify alternative credentials. Even if you wrap it yourself, you have to make sure you call CoSetProxyBlanket before you do any calls - and .Net does QueryInterface under the hood for you, and you have to make sure CoSetProxyBlanket is called again, then the simple programming interface of .Net becomes more of a hindrance than a help. They were supposed to get away from COM in the Silverlight versions. Now the waters are even muddier, because WPF is still supported on the Full version of the CLR.

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