Desmond File

Blog archive

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 platform.

Go to 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 Video section.

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 [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/14/2008 at 1:15 PM

comments powered by Disqus


  • Top 3 Blazor Extensions for Visual Studio Code

    Some developers prefer to create applications with Microsoft's open-source Blazor tooling from within the open-source, cross-platform Visual Studio Code editor. Here are the top tools in the VS Code Marketplace for those folk, as measured by the number of installations.

  • How to Invert a Machine Learning Matrix Using C#

    VSM Senior Technical Editor Dr. James McCaffrey, of Microsoft Research, explains why inverting a matrix -- one of the more common tasks in data science and machine learning -- is difficult and presents code that you can use as-is, or as a starting point for custom matrix inversion scenarios.

  • Microsoft Engineer: 'It's Time to Move OData to .NET 5'

    Microsoft engineer Sam Xu says "it’s time to move OData to .NET 5" and in a new blog post he shows how to do just that.

  • Microsoft Goes Virtual with Developer Education in Face of COVID-19

    Like many organizations that host developer educational events, Microsoft has gone virtual amid shelter-in-place directives and a surge in remote work stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Microsoft Enhances Low-Code Power Apps

    Microsoft's nod to the low-code movement, Power Apps, has been enhanced with a bevy of new features, including mixed reality, canvas/model support in a new mobile app, UX improvements and more.

.NET Insight

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.

Upcoming Events