Appeasement is a Type of Strategy

by chromatic

"Why port Microsoft's new own-the-web Silverlight to Linux" Miguel de Icaza replied to the question,"Why port Microsoft's new own-the-web Silverlight to Linux":


4 Comments

Simon Hibbs
2007-05-04 08:51:21
OpenOffice does read, and write .doc files and it wouldn't have a fraction of it's current success if it didn't. ODF won't change that fact for quite some time to come. Certainly I would not be able to depend on NeoOffice day to day if it didn't have stellar .doc support.


If there were a top-tier open source competitor to Flash and Silverlight then I'd see your point, but there isn't. The Open Source community is full of stellar innovation, but the fact is the market is wide open for Microsoft to introduce Silverlight, and they have every right to pitch it in and compete with Adobe and everything else that's out there.


In this instance Microsoft are actually the good guys. They opened up the specs for .NET, and are even offering up the dynamic runtime code that underlies Silverlight under a BSD-a-like license. I'd rather look at the situation as it is now. Harping on about old legal cases is so last century.

trianglman
2007-05-04 09:34:54
I believe you are falling into the common *nix fundamentalist view that any software that isn't 100% free is evil and should go the way of the dodo. Software is only there to serve a purpose. If it does that well, then it is good software; if it does it well and shows you how it did it, it is even better software. I am a firm advocate of free and open software myself, but I do not believe that in advocating this, I should remove other people's freedom to use software that works for them.


In supporting more software, it may increase the viability of the software, but in doing so it increases the viability of the platforms running it. At the very least, not supporting popular software (or, in this case, software that may become popular) is a good way to limit the viability of the platform. I cannot count the number of times I have heard "We can't use Linux, {insert popular Windows/Mac only program name here} doesn't run on it and we need it." In fact, this is one of the reasons I still dual-boot at all.


If you have a better option than a, b, or c listed above, then let us know so we can support it. Otherwise, option c is the best option we have.

Kevin Ollivier
2007-05-04 11:10:25
@Simon Hubbs


OpenOffice does read, and write .doc files and it wouldn't have a fraction of it's current success if it didn't. ODF won't change that fact for quite some time to come. Certainly I would not be able to depend on NeoOffice day to day if it didn't have stellar .doc support.


However, if you didn't have NeoOffice, then if MS dropped support for Mac you'd have no choice but to drop the Mac platform or invest in an emulated solution (very costly now if you adhere to Vista's EULA). With NeoOffice, you have a choice. Plus, ODF allows you (and business and government) to move away from depending on closed formats at all. All of these things put pressure on Microsoft to work to keep their customers. That's good for customers.


The Open Source community is full of stellar innovation, but the fact is the market is wide open for Microsoft to introduce Silverlight, and they have every right to pitch it in and compete with Adobe and everything else that's out there.


The problem is that historically, once Microsoft beats the competition, they put the brakes on their 'innovation' and move on to other markets. IE stagnated for years, until Mozilla started taking market share. Now, MS is "innovating" again. I honestly wonder what Vista would have been like if Apple wasn't around. The same? I doubt it. I think this is what chromatic meant by his point of porting IE 4 vs. creating Mozilla. By competing with MS, even MS users win. By replicating MS solutions, on the other hand, you're just giving MS a freebie and in fact helping them to beat their competitors, which may in the end harm innovation.


If there's an open source competitor, that does as well as Flash and is easy to install, both Adobe and MS would have to work harder. Why doesn't Miguel spend the resources he planned for Silverlight on that? It's more work, but unless you thought the IE6 years were the heyday of web innovation, you might want to consider that MS' goal isn't to make users' lives better. Even if this OSS competitor doesn't 'take over the world', it is always there to remind MS and Adobe that if they stop innovating, devs and users do have somewhere they can go.


Also, how do you think it looks to the computing world in general when Linux distros do all the hard work of porting someone else's apps to their platform for free? Not a sign of healthy growth and a solid platform, if you ask me. It's more an outright admission that Linux distro developers themselves feel their solutions are inferior, and that they could never gain the market share to get MS to take them seriously. Not the best advertising banner to wave around about why your platform is best.


Finally, what surprises me is that no one so far has asked - shouldn't we wait to see if Silverlight succeeds first? This is not (yet) a make or break technology for Linux adoption, is not likely to be widespread for 1-2 years best case, and moreover, there are lots of areas in Linux that could be improved. Why is this a huge priority when the app is still in beta?

Simon Hibbs
2007-05-08 10:21:17
>If there's an open source competitor, that does as well as Flash
>and is easy to install, both Adobe and MS would have to work harder.
>Why doesn't Miguel spend the resources he planned for Silverlight on that?


How come you get to tell Miguel what to work on, why don't you come up with one yourself? The fact is that the OSS community hasn't and MS has. That's the world we're living in.


Anyway a mono based silverlight implementation would be open source. It would be everything you're asking for, it's just that MS would happen to have an implementation and dev tools first. Which is fair enough, they came up with the goods so they get a head-start advantage.


Yes I am aware of the fact that Microsoft can be a very unhealthy actor in the market sometimes, but they are also an inescapable fact of life right now and when they come up with someting cool and that is compatible with Open Source then what is the problem? In the end they're just a company like Sun or IBM or Apple. They have a track recors so we need to be careful, but also we can't just bury our heads in the sand and hope they go away. Silverlight exists, it's gaining a lot of momentum even from a standing strat, and so if Miguel (who happens to already have a hughe chunk of the components already in place) wants to jump in then I say good luck to him.