Silverlight: Alphabet Soup No More
As Microsoft product code names go, "WPF/E" had to be among the all-time
worst. Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere got its unfortunate nickname
from Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). The idea was to convey that WPF/E
presents a subset of the incredibly rich graphics and UI environment delivered
with WPF as part of Windows Vista and the .NET Framework 3.0.
Last week, Microsoft finally coughed up a name for WPF/E: "Silverlight."
If you find the title a bit underwhelming, join the club. Microsoft, of course,
faced a tough task in putting a palatable moniker onto this vital technology.
After all, WPF/E (I mean, Silverlight) is supposed to be a lot of things to
an awful lot of people.
On the one hand, it's a decidedly Flash-like software runtime that installs
on Windows and Mac PCs so that various Web browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari) can
display video, animation, vector graphics and the like. On the other, it's a
design and development target that will feature tooling and resources for crafting
rich media for online delivery. And it's intended to cast its magic on everything
from desktop PCs to smart phones.
One thing Silverlight won't do, though, is run on Linux -- at least, not yet.
Silverlight seems to convey a couple things. One, the branding announcement
came at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, and it's clear
that Silverlight is intended to evoke the idea of the "silver screen."
Look for Microsoft to push this technology early and often on studios, broadcasters
and media providers of every stripe.
Second, Silverlight seems to convey a bit more of a "durable" presence
than its nearest competitor, Flash. It's interesting to me that Microsoft passed
on a catchy, single-syllable name (like, say, Spark) and went with a concatenation.
Ultimately, what really matters isn't the name, but the force that Microsoft
can put behind Silverlight developers. Silverlight will find itself quickly
installed on a ridiculous number of client systems, thanks to the wonders of
Windows Update. But what Microsoft really needs to do is convince designers
and coders that Silverlight is easier, cheaper and more effective to work with
Can they do it? You tell me. What would it take for you to switch allegiances
from Flash to Silverlight? Write me at email@example.com.
Posted by Michael Desmond on 04/18/2007 at 1:15 PM