Silverlight: A Good Thing, Served Badly
If you've been reading Redmond Developer News
, you know that the Beijing
Summer Olympic Games currently underway in China may be of particular interest
to .NET application developers. You see, Microsoft decided to use
the games as a platform
to showcase its Silverlight rich Internet application
Go to nbcolympics.com and you'll land
at a rather busy-looking portal page with links to all sorts of Olympics-related
news, video and schedules. Silverlight's role in all this is as the delivery
platform for streaming video of events. For followers of less-than-marquee sports
(I'm talking to you, badminton fans), the site is a huge benefit.
The problem is in the execution. First of all, the interface is terribly complex
and convoluted for something intended for a broad consumer audience. Just making
sense of where to find the video can be a bit tough. There's a "Video"
link along the top, but it's unclear if that's where all the latest and greatest
video event coverage is. Navigate by sport, and you're presented with no clear
Second, there's the issue of the player itself, which launches in a second
browser window. The Standard Player offers a smaller window and a busy array
of tabs, links and ads for navigating content. Click the Enhanced Player icon
to achieve higher resolution, and you get a more soothing interface and larger
video window. But I was disappointed that the Video window itself couldn't scale.
YouTube offers a full-screen mode -- why can't Microsoft and NBC?
Finally, the enforced delay on streaming televised events is...well, it's maddening.
It's hard enough to know whether events taking place halfway around the world
are actually broadcast live or on tape delay. Now we have to guess at when the
online video of an event that may or may not have taken place will arrive?
My experience with the Silverlight streaming video, overall, has been good.
There's been just a few, brief pauses in the stream. The resolution is good
enough for desktop viewing. And I definitely appreciate that this channel delivers
so much action that would otherwise never see the light of broadcast day on
NBC or even its sundry satellite channels (MSNBC, CNBC).
But Microsoft should be less than satisfied with the way the video experience
itself has been packaged. Redmond, of all companies, knows that it's not technology
that wins markets -- otherwise, Windows would never have ousted IBM OS/2 as
a desktop operating system.
Have you had a strong development effort undone by bad marketing or packaging?
Tell me your tale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/14/2008 at 1:15 PM