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Silverlight: What's it for?

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19 replies to this topic

#1
JorgeA

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Hello,

My laptop just got notification from Microsoft that an "important" update for Silverlight is available for download.

This "Silverlight" thing has always been rather a mystery to me, with respect to what it is for, what it does, and what one would do with it. Wikipedia and other references I've found on the Web have not been particularly helpful, as they launch immediately into a sea of unfamiliar acronyms and highly technical language that leaves me even more confused than when I started.

I am not a programmer, a webmaster, a developer, or an IT professional. I am simply an end user with a higher-than-normal (my wife might say, abnormal) interest in computers, but by no means an expert. (That's why I keep coming to this Forum for guidance. :) ) Thus I have no clue as to whether I would have any use for Silverlight, or whether it's simply taking up space on my hard drive.

Tha main thing I want to know is: Is there any reason for me to download this Update, or can I cancel it and tell Microsoft not to nag me about it again? Can I search around my various PCs for Silverlight and eradicate it, or does it do something useful for ordinary PC users (and what is that)?

Thanks sincerely for whatever enlightenment you might offer to the uninitiated.

--JorgeA


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#2
5eraph

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It is meant to compete with Adobe (Macromedia) Flash Player. Personally I never install Silverlight. For me, there's no compelling reason or website that requires it.

#3
iamtheky

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The best implementation ive seen, http://memorabilia.hardrock.com/

4 rows down, 12 over - zoom into the stamp

but that was done a year or two ago


This deepzoom site was pretty nice as well

http://www.xrez.com/.../yose_deepzoom/

now:
http://techrights.or...verlight-dying/

Edited by iamtheky, 01 September 2010 - 02:58 PM.

iamtheKy

#4
JorgeA

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@iamtheky
@5eraph

Thanks for the info and the links, they helped me to understand it better.

Maybe one reason Silverlight is "dying" (if it is, as suggested in one of the links) is that MS hasn't explained clearly what it's for, and why a regular end user should put it on their PC ?

Much appreciated!

--JorgeA

#5
DigeratiPrime

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I think Silverlight is just getting started. I believe it is going to be widely implemented with Windows Phone 7 coming later this year.
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#6
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If you have Silverlight installed you must install the important update otherwise you are vulnerable to web based attacks. So you have 2 options, remove it completely (should be in add/remove programs) or follow Microsoft's recommendation and install any updates that become available for it.
[ Download all Windows XP Post SP3 High-Priority Updates with a simple double click @ xdot.tk Posted Image ]
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#7
JorgeA

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I think Silverlight is just getting started. I believe it is going to be widely implemented with Windows Phone 7 coming later this year.

DigeratiPrime,

So maybe I should keep it after all. Thanks for the scoop.

--JorgeA

#8
JorgeA

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If you have Silverlight installed you must install the important update otherwise you are vulnerable to web based attacks. So you have 2 options, remove it completely (should be in add/remove programs) or follow Microsoft's recommendation and install any updates that become available for it.

What's your sense -- do you think that Silverlight will become more widespread over time, or will it stay such a rare and obscure thing that we can just ignore it?

I guess the safest route is to update it and then delete the whole Silverlight package down the road if it looks like it's not going anywhere.

--JorgeA

#9
jaclaz

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What's your sense -- do you think that Silverlight will become more widespread over time, or will it stay such a rare and obscure thing that we can just ignore it?

I guess the safest route is to update it and then delete the whole Silverlight package down the road if it looks like it's not going anywhere.

You should see it the other way round. ;)

Nowadays there are BIG disks.

Notwithstanding the amount of bloat that made basically the same OS get from 600 Mb (Win2K) to 1.5 Gb (XP) to 4 or more Gb (Vista :ph34r: and Windows 7), still disks have grown much more, so a lot of space in them is unused.

Silverlight is a very good way to occupy a relatively small number of sectors that would otherwise feel lonely/uncared for being all 00's (that's about the only practical use of it, short of increasing, as seen above, the chances your system is more vulnerable to web attacks). :angel

:lol:

I mean, the more things you add the more likely it is that they add vulnerability to your system, no matter how quick and effective will be updates, there will always be some chances that you get affected before the update, now having this risk is "reasonable" for something (an app, protocol, whatever) for which you have an actual use, it is much less so for something that you don't use, don't need or don't even know what's for.

The safest route is always NOT having something (anything that isn't there, cannot break) :).

jaclaz

#10
JorgeA

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jaclaz,

Great to hear from you! :hello: Wow, you do get around this forum! ;)

Let me ask you something about Silverlight. In your estimation, is the use of Silverlight going to become more widespread in the coming months (or years)? Is the growth (if any) going to be an extremely slow process?

--JorgeA

#11
jaclaz

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In your estimation, is the use of Silverlight going to become more widespread in the coming months (or years)? Is the growth (if any) going to be an extremely slow process?

Let me before express my opinion (this one founded) on the utter futility of your question. :w00t:

Unless you attribute me clairvoyancy related powers, WHAT actual reliability do you think can have the opinion of a Mr. Nobody on a board?

It's just like asking me if the next year Brand "X" new car Model "Y" will sell or not.

Here is a "trend report":
http://trends.builtw...ork/Silverlight

Even IF the data is actually anywhere accurate AND IF you can see a pattern in it, ANY pattern :whistle: , HOW the heck do you think that anyone can do anything but a completely random forecast?

Here is a general report or current framework usage:
http://trends.builtwith.com/framework

The amount of Silverlight made sites found is currently negligible.

jaclaz

#12
JorgeA

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In your estimation, is the use of Silverlight going to become more widespread in the coming months (or years)? Is the growth (if any) going to be an extremely slow process?

Let me before express my opinion (this one founded) on the utter futility of your question. :w00t:

Unless you attribute me clairvoyancy related powers, WHAT actual reliability do you think can have the opinion of a Mr. Nobody on a board?

jaclaz

Well, that's why I prefaced my question with, "In your estimation." Of course nobody can predict the future with certainty. But since you seem to keep very much on top of developments in the computing world, I did not think it was such an unreasonable question, and hoped that you might be able to offer an informed assessment. Maybe Silverlight is starting to gain momentum, and perhaps you had heard about that or had direct experience, I don't know -- that's why I asked.

Instead of laying on the sarcasm -- because, whether you intended it or not, that is how it came off -- you might have replied simply, "We just don't know." And I would have accepted that.

Sorry I asked.

Edited by JorgeA, 02 September 2010 - 10:41 AM.


#13
jaclaz

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Well, that's why I prefaced my question with, "In your estimation." Of course nobody can predict the future with certainty. But since you seem to keep very much on top of developments in the computing world, I did not think it was such an unreasonable question, and hoped that you might be able to offer an informed assessment. Maybe Silverlight is starting to gain momentum, and perhaps you had heard about that or had direct experience, I don't know -- that's why I asked.

Instead of laying on the sarcasm -- because, whether you intended it or not, that is how it came off -- you might have replied simply, "We just don't know." And I would have accepted that.

Sorry I asked.

No prob :), you asked, I answered you :yes: , my personal estimation is:

Cannot compute - not enough data.

Or if you prefer:

a suffusion of yellow


Sorry if I seemed sarcastic, I actually meant to be pragmatic.

This might come handy for similar calculations ;):
http://www.thateden.co.uk/dirk/

jaclaz

#14
JorgeA

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Thanks, jaclaz, I appreciate it.

Cute calculator, by the way!

--JorgeA

#15
Cyker

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Personally I hope it dies off; We need less proprietary content plugins, not more!

It's basically an attempt to take on Flash, but it's just stupid - being forced to install Flash to be able to access large parts of the web is bad enough, but I'll be damned if I help another proprietary content system get a foot hold. Why force everyone to install two plugins that do the exact same thing anyway?!

(Personally, I hope HTML5 kills off both of them...)

#16
5eraph

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Not likely with Firefox and IE supporting different video codecs. But one can dream.

#17
Cyker

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Well it's possible as H264 has been released royalty free for web use, and if we're lucky WebM will become prolific enough that all browsers will need to support it :)

But that's not the main thing I mean; Flash started life as a vector graphics animator, but has grown quite a lot from there.
With javascript and svg you can already do a lot of Flash-like stuff, and newer browsers which support things like Canvas tags are getting closer and closer to modern Flash-levels of functionality...

#18
submix8c

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FWIW, Silverlight is/was used by Netflix for streaming movies. At least it did when my brother got his "free trial of Netflix"...

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#19
JorgeA

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FWIW, Silverlight is/was used by Netflix for streaming movies. At least it did when my brother got his "free trial of Netflix"...

submix8c,

Oh, so I might actually have some use for Silverlight! (Been thinking about joining Netflix.)

I'm glad that you pointed this out, thanks.

--JorgeA

#20
CoffeeFiend

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Silverlight is used in some places. The sliverlight version of Bing maps is pretty slick (although I use google maps most of the time). It was also used to stream the Bejing and Vancouver olympics. It's also used extensively by Microsoft for all their developer video series (from various events, tutorials, etc)

I hope it dies off

Let's hope not! Flash *needs* competition, otherwise it'll just stagnate, very much like IE6 did. Thanks to Silverlight, we're now seeing a lot of extra features being added to Flash -- things like video decoding acceleration (H.264).

Personally, I hope HTML5 kills off both of them...

And it definitely won't. HTML 5 has support for video which could indeed kill a large chunk of Flash usage on sites like Youtube, but with browsers supporting different codecs the future isn't so simple (most likely serve H.264 to everything that supports it, and H.264-played-by-flash to everything else).

And that doesn't really address the rest of its uses. And no, HTML5-only features like canvas/video/audio tags + SVG + JavaScript + CSS isn't a replacement in many ways (like for dynamic audio in a game) -- nevermind that all of this runs on a very small portion of web browsers right now whereas Flash works with pretty much everything (nevermind the cross-browser quirks).

Also, Flash has a large and active community based around it, a lot of people already know actionscript, it has great development tools for animators, it's easy to use and rapid to develop with, it's a supported output format by a LOT of other tools used by non-animators (like InDesign), etc. Silverlight also has its strong points like being able to reuse existing C# or VB code instead of actionscript. I thought about using silverlight before as you can have pretty amazing user interfaces (on the web) using it (just check out the demos of these controls for example) but I just don't have the time to look into it.

I very much dislike Flash: slow loading, CPU/memory hog, browser crashing, battery draining, where bookmarking or the back button don't work, nor does it let you open links in other tabs, nor can you adjust the text size with ctrl + or -, forget about using ctrl+f to find something, can't save pics, it's not indexing friendly nor really accessible, it doesn't resize with screen resolution like HTML does or at least can, it seems to be used mainly by highly annoying slap-the-monkey style ads that sometimes even have sound, it's not really meant for touch devices, it doesn't run on a lot of mobile devices, it has those flash cookies your browser won't delete, judging by its track record it's a liability (insecure), etc. Most of the time it's just used to add very distracting and somehwat annoying animations all over the place and it just gets in the way of actual content. But unfortunately it's not going away anytime soon. I wish nobody would develop those really, REALLY awful flash-only sites anymore (I know a guy who swears by that and thinks this is the future... you should see his sites :puke: ) and I really hope that devices like the iPhone/iPad/etc that don't support flash will help, but for some tasks (e.g. games) it's still the best tool for the job.
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