Microsoft Adds Linux Concession to Silverlight Release

Microsoft on Wednesday announced that its cross-browser plug-in, Silverlight will eventually appear on Linux.

Silverlight, a challenge to Adobe’s Flash, means Microsoft will have to convince Web users they can really “light up the Web,” with Silverlight, as the ad copy states, and view high-quality video.

The announcement was paired with news that Microsoft has partnered with Novell to produce a future release of a Silverlight Linux version, dubbed Moonlight, which should be available in about six months.

No Zero-Sum Game

The collaboration goes against the perceived “zero-sum game mentality” that has gone on between free software and Microsoft camps, Miguel de Icaza, lead Mono project developer and Novell vice president of developer platforms, told LinuxInsider.

Novell-supported Mono has been working on the Moonlight implementation.

“We should be working together,” de Icaza said. He called the collaboration between Microsoft and Novell developers historic.

“I think historically, the birth of Linux and the creation of a completely free operating system was positioned by the press and the world as being a zero-sum game between Microsoft and the free software world,” he said.

“Folks presented Linux as the operating system that would destroy Microsoft. The reality is that this is not a zero-sum game, that we can all grow the market together.”

De Icaza pointed to Microsoft’s steps toward collaborations. “They are starting to open source fairly important projects and starting to adopt open source collaboration practices, IronRuby, for example,” he said, pointing to the .NET implementation of the Ruby programming language, which Microsoft is developing under the Microsoft Permissive License.

Desktop Linux

The “Moonlight” Linux announcement, though, is a first, he told LinuxInsider. “This was the first time that Microsoft would put a significant set of resources into making a product that would directly benefit Linux on the desktop.”

Novell, nonetheless, see challenges. Collaborations with Microsoft are easily taken in a positive light by corporate customers, said Justin Steinman, marketing director for open platform solutions at Novell.

“When we talk about making directories, virtualization, and documents communicate across Windows and Linux, they like that,” he said. “At the same time, there are some in the community who don’t like our agreement with Microsoft. So that’s made our communications challenges with the community more difficult.”

Novell’s Goal

Novell’s Linux goal and Microsoft collaborations worked hand in hand, Steinman said. “We are increasing Linux adoption and making it work better with Windows. Our overarching goal is interoperability. That’s what customers want. And we’re delivering that.”

The more applications on Linux, the more attractive it becomes, Steinman stated.

“I would argue that the announcement around Moonlight is very much supportive of an open information world,” he said.

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