Why Microsoft Silverlight can succeed

Microsoft Silverlight

So by now, many people are familiar with the term Microsoft Silverlight. It is Microsoft’s attempt at a Rich Internet Application platform, similar to Flash. That’s enough for the average nontechnical person to know, really.

Why can Microsoft stand any chance? There are a few reasons.

Market saturation

Flash currently has a large market share. The latest version alone has 93% exposure online. That means 93% of all internet users have Flash 9 capable browsers already.

How can Microsoft possibly penetrate this humongous market?

Easy, if you ask me. Windows Update. With the power of Windows Update, any Windows user can automatically have Silverlight integrated into IE. In theory, this would spread Silverlight – instantly – to a majority of web users. The best (or worst, depending on your stance on Microsoft) part is that most users wouldn’t even know there was a transition, it would just be taken care of for them.

Annoying IE “feature”

Many people might voluntarily choose to develop in Silverlight merely because of the annoying Flash IE “feature”. This feature is that Flash does not embed correctly in IE. In fact, I don’t believe any third-party apps can be embedded in IE without the annoying “Click to use this application” message. You have to click to activate and use any Flash control.

I assume this will not be the case with Silverlight. Sure, there are javascript workarounds for Flash, but there are so many non-standardized methods it’s hard to know where to start (I recommend SWFObject).

Aggressive Marketing

Silverlight is getting aggressively marketed by Microsoft. I have never seen a Flash advertisement (to clarify, I mean an advertisement for Flash. I see Flash ads all the damn time).

While Flash has become “a part” of the internet, I don’t doubt that Microsoft can create the same kind of brand awareness that Flash shares.

Integration into Visual Studio/.NET

With Release 1.1 of Silverlight, it is possible to write application code for Silverlight in C#/VB instead of javascript. This opens up developmet to many more developers, and bridges the gap nicely between the idea of Flash being a designers tool and a developers tool.

With Visual Studio being one of the development platforms, many people will be familiar with the tool already as well. This makes development just that much easier.

Conclusion

Overall, Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight are, on the surface, very similar. In the end, I think it’s the small differences that will really matter.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me, James Martin.
Email me, or leave a comment below!

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