Silverlight? indeed

Over at UXB, Shane Morris is trying to convince us there’s really no competition between Flash and Silverlight (along with no competition between the Expression toolset and similar Adobe products). I’ve had a couple of short conversations with Shane recently about where and how Expression and WPF are going to impact the incumbent toolsets – Flash, Flex, Dreamweaver and other Adobe design tools (not to mention Eclipse) and I’m not convinced by his arguments that they can all play nice together.

Shane’s a super-smart guy – incredibly likeable and with few peers in the user experience space – but it’s his job as a Microsoft representative to ensure that as many people are introduced to the new Microsoft tools in as non-challenging, friendly way as possible. With the Age of User Experience sessions running at the moment, a major part of his job is to introduce Australian developers to Expression and WPF.

Sadly for Shane and his bosses, his arguments seem redundant in the face of Sean Corfield’s most recent post.

As a former senior Adobe staffer and ColdFusion guru, Sean holds major league sway in the Adobe tool using developer community. Given the pretty awful experience he’s just had trying to get Silverlight to work on his Mac, this group is going to be even less likely than ever to look at Expression and WPF.

To confirm Sean’s findings, I tried to repeat his experience on my MacBook Pro. I followed the instructions and did exactly what the Microsoft site told me to do. Apparent success in installation. But, as with Sean’s experience, no seamless redirection back to the Silverlight home page. You have to try to intuit what Microsoft expect you to do, given you’ve moved past the installation instructions…

Now, here’s the doozy – my experience was worse than Sean’s! Every time I try to go to the Silverlight home page to check out this cutting edge new technology, Firefox crashes without warning, and I can’t even check out how cutting edge and “check that out” Silverlight is… UPDATE – I can now view the sample apps without Firefox crashing.  That said, like Sean, I see no video in the top of the page.  Also, and this is opinion so take it with a grain of salt, the demos show me nothing Flash hasn’t done in spades for years.

For Shane’s sake, I really hope Microsoft get their act together and make this both seamless and error-free, because at the moment, getting Silverlight happening on OS X is:

  • counterintuitive;
  • error-prone;
  • an unmitigated usability disaster.

3 Replies to “Silverlight? indeed”

  1. I’m quite happy about Silverlight being a competition. I’ve been with adobe & macromedia for a number of years, and it was sooo boring until the news of “sparkle” popped up. Now you see that Adobe is actually trying to defend the position doing everything they can and I like it very much.

    As per the silverlight experience itself is pure crap for the moment. Starting from poorly written player that throws myriad of errors in FF and hardly working in IE, through lack of any sort of support for my browser of choice (Opera) and any linux support at all, to completely uninteresting examples on page. But as with all m$ products – they’re fine after first service pack, so let’s wait.

    BTW – What I’d really “buy” is a plugin that takes advantage of opengl OR directx API-s, at lease for the video support, but that is not something I see these 2 provide right now.

  2. [quote comment=”32764″]I just said I don’t think Expression is trying to compete with Photoshop and Illustrator specifically – which is what the SMH article suggested.[/quote]

    And I think you’re right. I’ve been to your Age of UX session, I see where the synergies aren’t. But perception IS reality, and perception for most developers will be driven by media reports and the experience of getting Silverlight installed and testing out the Expression toolset.

    At the moment, the Silverlight experience is a long way from satisfactory and the Expression toolset is up against huge incumbency-based competition, especially with the release of Creative Studio 3, which offers big improvements, and the fight against tools like Eclipse, which has a virtual stranglehold in the Java/ColdFusion/PHP/anything but .NET space.

    I’m personally impressed by the Expression toolset, but I don’t think it’s compelling enough to steal significant market share from the Adobe user base. And with the negative Silverlight experience, you guys aren’t winning friends and influencing people. And you deserve to. The job you’re doing at Microsoft is heroic (I’d love to be doing it, but i don’t envy the hard work you have to do) and I’m more than happy to see worthy competition in the space. Microsoft just needs to make the experience of installing and using that competition seamless and “check that out” easy.

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