The top Silverlight feature request: implement on more platforms

One of the things mentioned by Microsoft VP Scott Guthrie in his Firestarter keynote yesterday was that Silverlight 5, the new version set for release in 2011, implements some 70% of what users have voted for. I presume he means the feedback forum here. But look what the top request is – as noted by a comment to yesterday’s post:


Looking at the comments, Android is a common request, and relatively easy for Microsoft to achieve given the open nature of that platform.

This was apparently not part of the 70% though. Instead, Guthrie introduced more Windows-only features – showing that concerns about divergence between Windows and Mac implementations when Microsoft announced COM support at the 2009 PDC were justified.

What if Microsoft had purchased Novell, or purchased Mono from Novell, instead of letting it go to Attachmate? It would have enabled Microsoft to unify the Windows and Linux implementations as well as building on the work the Mono team has done on compilation for iOS.

That dream is over though; the Silverlight application strategy seems focused on making it better for Windows-platform corporations.

7 thoughts on “The top Silverlight feature request: implement on more platforms”

  1. It turns out that most people are running Windows anyway and would rather have more functionality than platforms from Silverlight, although more platforms would be nice.

  2. No Zimmy, there are a lot of people who are running a different os than windows, specially now with all the tablets coming out and google chrome os around the corner and what about the mobile world?

  3. One of the top requests in the wish list prior to Silverlight 4 was Webcam and Microphone access to enable video chats/video conferencing within applications. Access to devices arrived but not video encoding or a way to share an audio/video stream.

    In the September 1, 2010 “Future of Silverlight” Blog post, “Teleconferencing with webcam/microphone” is listed as the first example of the premium media experience that SL supports.

    Does anyone know if video encoding and a way to share audio and video will arrive with Silverlight 5?

    Did I miss something in the firestarter presentation? (I confess, I skipped forward through a few segments.)

    I imagine folks at Adobe will be pleased if Silverlight 5 does not include all the necessary features for video chats/conferences. They already have Sorenson encoding and lots of ways to share video including IP-based multicast and P2P multicast. I assume they will soon deliver WebM based video encoding and echo cancellation.

    On the other hand, perhaps Skype has become the more important player in this space.

  4. We have a prototype of Moonlight running on the Android now. This is an easier platform to support than iOS as it allows JIT compilation.

    Perhaps we will release a bundled version for people to try out, but we have not done any work to do touch-input, or integrate with the OS, other than rendering. So it will feel unpolished.

    Maybe later, if there is enough demand, we can look into porting Moonlight to iOS, but that platform is more challenging as we have to entirely statically compile Silverlight and there are some difficult pieces of code that our AOT compiler is unable to handle when generics are used extensively.

    But it looks like a world of opportunity right there to me.

  5. Asking MS to spend its limited development resources on implementing wider cross-platform support with SL is a bit like asking the coalition forces to continue to invest huge amounts in “nation building” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    I’d rather have most of that money invested back here in our own declining energy, road and educational systems. Similarly, I’d rather have MS invest in combining WPF and SL and adding platform specific features to the result.

    Brian asked about mic-and-webcam support. I’d rather have MS invest in world-class support for features like that, specific to Win7, WP7 and XBox than try to implement more basic capabilities across more platforms.

    Alan Cobb

  6. It’s very hard to implement a product for a fragmented platform that has a trillion different editions.

  7. Hi Alan,

    What I find interesting about the Webcam/Microphone for “teleconferencing” feature issue is

    1. Microsoft seems to have done the hard part already: device integration on Windows and the Mac.
    2. It was a top item in developers wish lists.
    3. It seemed – according to their own blog – to be in the pipeline.

    If it doesn’t show up (and I’m not saying it will not) then it is further evidence that the E in WPF/E is no more and that they have indeed adopted a more isolationist strategy for .Net on the client.

    I’m sure there are challenges in writing a small cross-platform video encoder, but I wonder if the cross platform part is the hard part? It seems like it shouldn’t be.

    Perhaps it is the other part of the equation that they don’t have ready: sharing the video via some protocol and a server that does something like what FMS does.

    SInce they aren’t saying I really don’t know. But it is sure interesting to watch.


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