It's Official: Microsoft/Novell/Mono Project Ink Silverlight Collaboration Deal; Audio/Video Codecs Included

by M. David Peterson

Microsoft/Novell Collaboration on Silverlight. - Miguel de Icaza

Today we are announcing a new collaboration with Microsoft around Silverlight. The Mono team at Novell will implement open source versions of Silverlight 1.0 and Silverlight 1.1.

Our implementation of Silverlight is Moonlight.

We have had a cordial relationship with many developers at Microsoft for quite some time. Scott Guthrie and Jason Zander provided us with informal advice on how to implement Moonlight, and we also have good relations with the open source teams working on IronPython and IronRuby.

Today we are formalizing a collaboration between Microsoft and Novell with the explicit purpose of bringing Silverlight to Linux and do this in a fully supported way. The highlights of this collaboration include:

The highlights of the collaboration are:

* Microsoft will give Novell access to the test suites for Silverlight to ensure that we have a compatible specification. The same test suite that Microsoft uses for Silverlight.
* Microsoft will give us access to the Silverlight specifications: details that might be necessary to implement 1.0, beyond what is currently published on the web; and specifications on the 1.1 version of Silverlight as it is updated.
* Microsoft will make the codecs for video and audio available to users of Moonlight from their web site. The codecs will be binary codecs, and they will only be licensed for use with Moonlight on a web browser (sorry, those are the rules for the Media codecs[1]).
* Novell will implement Silverlight 1.0 and 1.1 and will distribute it for the major Linux distributions at the time of the shipment. We will offer some kind of one-click install for Linux users (no "Open a terminal and type su followed by your password..." as well as RPM and DEB packages for the major distros and operating systems.

This is an historical collaboration between an open source project and Microsoft. They have collaborated with other folks on the server space (Xen and PHP) but this is their first direct contribution to the open source desktop.

ed. Emphasis added.

Folks, this is a *MUCH* bigger deal than it may already seem: Up until now, the ability to deliver to users of the Linux operating system the same level of audio and video quality over the web that you can get on the Windows platform was simply not possible**.

And anyone who has been following the Moonlight project already knows that significant effort has been made to deliver the virtues of the Silverlight platform to the desktop user, or in other words *external* to the browser as an integrated piece of the Linux desktop.

In other words, the future Linux *desktop* will, for all intents and purposes, be at least partially funded by -- you guessed it -- Microsoft.

My oh my, how times they are a changin'. ;-)

Congratulations to Miguel de Icaza, the Mono Project, Novell, and to Microsoft for finding ways to work together with one another on the foundation of tomorrows web-based desktop platform. This is truly a remarkable achievement!


** And from the standpoint of Linux desktop applications, if I am reading "they will only be licensed for use with Moonlight on a web browser" correctly, it's still won't be possible. But none-the-less, this is a significant step forward for users of the Linux platform, something in which has been a *HUGE* problem in the past.


2007-09-05 13:35:03
It might be huge. Maybe. It might be if Microsoft weren't involved. The dead horse is still worth beating though:
PlaysForSure/Zune, Mac IE, Mac Windows Media Player, extremely late MS Office for Mac (which is actually an extremely profitable product), etc. Now that they're working with linux peoples, I wonder how many of them will trust MS enough to develop with their product? How many people in general trust Microsoft with an "open standard?" How about OOXML, or the not so open file/print sharing, or the Shared Source Initiative?
With Microsoft it's not about the occasional independent olive branch and a movement within the company. That means a whole lot of nothing when you consider the two-faced nature of the past in so so many ways. Didn't they even have a Microsoft Java VM for a while...?
I'm sorry but even though they've hired as many FOSS based employees as they have, it doesn't mean a whole lot when at one conference they are saying that they want to submit licenses to the OSI while their lawyers are ambiguously accusing/threatening the FOSS community.
I'm sorry but to say that OSI *has* to accept them like any other business or that OOXML should be taken at face value or that Silverlight is a great development tool, to me, is very much beside the point. This is Microsoft and being completely objective, I believe they cannot be trusted.
2007-09-05 13:42:19
Sorry, it *was* a rant. I just think that Silverlight should be taken with a grain of salt still. The live search desktop thing seems neat but I've just read too many stories lately that say that Microsoft's initiatives should be taken at face value whith their current stance on so many things. Even with their open source community employees as well as still being under the anti-trust settlement and under investigation by the EU, they are still pretty anti-competitive.