Microsoft to Push Silverlight via Redesigned Website

Microsoft to Push Silverlight via Redesigned Website

Several months ago, Microsoft inserted themselves into the RIA framework business – years too late and against pretty scary odds – with the initial release of the Silverlight framework. Microsoft Silverlight is the online  mini site ninja counterpart to the Microsoft .NET 3.0 Framework and a direct Adobe Flash/Flex competitor.

Microsoft isn’t new to the whole “virtual” monopoly business (where a single company holds the entire market thanks to “superior technology” and “better business sense”) – it’s just not too often that they’re on the wrong side of this particular proverbial fence.

When Silverlight was first announced and PopFly, Microsoft’s social network built to demonstrate and hopefully kickoff Silverlight, were simultaneously launched; we were quick to appreciate the technical aspects of .NET and WPF taken online, but were careful to make it clear mini site ninja  that we didn’t think it stood much of a chance.

But things might be on the verge of a big change. Large portions Microsoft’s website are in the middle of a redesign that will feature a fully Silverlight-powered interface – doing away with HTML and everything else. We’ve had a chance to test the new interface (currently in beta), and here’s what we think:

 

  • According to Compete, Microsoft.com is the 8th most popular site on the internet, with around 60 million unique visitors a month. Put another way, if Microsoft successfully pulls this off, that’s 60 million new Silverlight users in the first month alone!
  • The new, Silverlight-powered interface is a pretty big step up from the old design, making it easy to access information about individual downloads and view overall info and lists.
  • The Silverlight part of the interface is almost wholly unnecessary. It’s really nice to use, it’s smooth, it’s easy, and it’s beautiful – but it’s nothing that requires a RIA in the first place. Microsoft could have easily implemented the same user experience (give or take) with HTML + JavaScript/AJAX; with a lot less effort and greater compatibility.
  • At the moment, very few non-Microsoft-owned sites are using Silverlight at all; let alone for the entire UI. And of those that do, none have anywhere the amount of exposure that Microsoft.com gets.

 

 

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