Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Silverlight on Mac OS X? It truly sucks!

Today I had my second experience with Microsoft's Silverlight on a Macintosh. The first experience resulted in a hung app which is okay given it was billed as early alpha. This time I decided to be a bit more picky as this version of Silverlight is billed as a Release Candidate. For the record, this is a MacBook Pro (latest edition) with 2.4 GHz processors (Intel Core 2 Duo) with 4 GB of RAM. I was looking at some old email and found some spam inviting me to a MS doo here in Vancouver. It invited me to go to a certain URL.

"Look forward to seeing you there – to RVSP, simply reply to this email or visit the Event page at the Experience Expression homepage"

Upon reaching the URL, I was asked to enter and given a choice of a Silverlight site or non-Silverlight. I wanted to really see Silverlight in action so I chose the Silverlight option. When I tried to reach the site, the first warning I got was this:

I figured that the "OK" button was safe to hit but upon hitting it, the alert disappeared along with all the content behind the page. I guess I was supposed to remember it from just looking or something??? The page now looked like this:

Even reloading the page did not return me to a place where I could get the URL. Luckily, I had made a copy of the screen because I was going to document a different problem I had experienced on another Mac in my house. I hit the URL and was redirected to a page at http://www.microsoft.com/SILVERLIGHT/default_ns.aspx After a few guesses I found the page to download their Release Candidate 1 (RC).

The install went well and reported success:

When I went back to the page to view the invitation to the event, I was redirected to the page saying I needed to install Microsoft Silverlight -- despite the fact I had just installed it.

Okay. Starting to get annoyed. Now I want to point out that I work for Adobe, largely viewed as the company owning the biggest rival to Silverlight (called Flash). Some people have wrongly compared Adobe AIR to Silverlight (Silverlight is akin to Flash but does not really have anywhere near the advanced capabilities of AIR). Despite my employment, I like to think I can be pragmatic and appreciate good software. After all, I do use Entourage, Word, and PowerPoint regularly. My counterparts at Microsoft also use PDF, Acrobat, and Photoshop. Anyways, read on and try the links yourself if you want to make your own judgment.

I clicked on the "Get Silverlight" button to try again and was directed to another page with a really bad graphic (presumably Silverlight-based). If this is an example of Silverlight's graphics, I am sticking with Flash and Flex.

Cautiously, I reloaded the page and this time it recognized that I had installed Silverlight. There was even a link to get back to previous page.

Now this seems reasonable yet a bit weird. If you can recognize the Silverlight player is installed, why send the user running around? I clicked on "Return to the previous page" only to find a page that tells me I need to install Silverlight to view it. Further attempts to view the content result in getting redirected to this page:

Okay - time to give up. I am trying hard to be balanced about this and to not push a "pick Adobe Flash vs. Microsoft Silverlight" battle, but the inescapable conclusion is that my experience was suboptimal. I hope someone from Microsoft reads this and can maybe offer some help as to what happened and a way to work around it.

After two attempts, the score is Silverlight 2, Me 0. I actually do really want to see it. Does that mean I have to go back to (cough) Win-D'ohs?

Anyone else have luck with the URLs?


  1. sucks? your being to nice. they hate mac. if they make it popular they will wreck the mac experience so people have to use windows.

  2. Another example of Microsoft working harder to bar entry on Mac OS X than on developing good product. Same goes for the barries to running Boot Camp or Parallels on PCs. How frustrating. :-(


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