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MLB Throws Out Microsoft's Silverlight

Baseball fans have news beyond free-agent signings to consider today: Major League Baseball's site will move its online video to Adobe's Flash multimedia format, only about a year and a half after it began switching those clips to Microsoft's Silverlight software.

The news -- highlighted by Adobe in a press release, although has yet to post its own announcement -- means that fans who want to watch entire games or just catch up on last night's best plays won't have to fuss with installing an extra browser plug-in. Flash already dominates the market for Web video (it's what you use to watch YouTube clips, for instance) and most Web users long ago installed a copy of the free Flash player (though if you haven't updated yours lately, you should download the new version 10 release).

Microsoft can't possibly be happy about this development. It has tried to build up Silverlight as a Flash competitor since its launch two summers ago, and deals like its partnership with MLB were a big part of that strategy. With baseball out of the picture, Microsoft's best chance to persuade Web users to install Silverlight may lie in its deal with Netflix, which uses Silverlight to provide online streaming of movies for Windows and, since October, Mac users.

I try to be conservative about adding to the load of software on my everyday computers, so I've confined Silverlight to a couple of test machines so far. How about you? Have you made Silverlight part of your usual Web toolkit? With going to Flash, will you keep it around? What other sites make Silverlight worth installing?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 18, 2008; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  The Web , Video  
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Silverlight became installed for the Olympics, and if you had the bandwidth, it was fabulous. Not sure of why I would take it off if it cause no harm while waiting to be utilized...?

Posted by: JkR- | November 18, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I installed Silverlight during baseball season as part of the MLB GameDay Audio package rather than use Windows Media. Of course when Firefox 3 came out Silverlight stopped working properly in the Mozilla browser -- a royal pain because I had to listen to games using Internet Explorer.

I never did find any one else that uses Silverlight except MLB.

It kind of reminds me of Microsoft's attempts to popularize XPS documents over PDF files. They have some good ideas (albeit with a lot of borrowing but that is Microsoft's history going all the way back to Apple's Hypercards) but they just don't do a good job of implementing them.

Posted by: jsapovits | November 18, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks you MLB. I can't believe it took you this long to realize Silverlight is terrible. Heck, I even wrote to customer service about it, twice. I guess you guys take a while to change things though, like steroids and instant replay...

Posted by: futbolclif | November 19, 2008 2:17 AM | Report abuse

Silverlight has been an impressively light and powerful browser plug-in. Even if it were ten times the size, it would be less of a pain in the butt then the large and frequent Flash updates, and Flash's terrible performance in Firefox browser. I find I have to switch to IE quite frequently to watch Flash simply because FF chokes on it.

Posted by: memew | November 19, 2008 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Memew, a big part of the reason that Silverlight seems so light is that many of its pieces/parts are part Windows itself, something that is harder for Flash to do.

Posted by: Vienna8425 | November 19, 2008 7:11 AM | Report abuse

memew reads like marketing spin. MS sockpuppet? If "large and frequent" updates were legitimately that offputting for you, you wouldn't be running Windows in the first place.

Flash's performance in FF on my Linux box is just fine. Silverlight performance on the SO's significantly faster Windows Media box during the Olympics was..abysmal would be too kind. With Flash being available on everything from all major desktop computers to cell phones (Verizon's phone UI is flash on many models) there's no reason except an injection of money from MS's coffers for standing up Silverlight streams.

Posted by: washpost18 | November 19, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse

IT was taken off MLB because it SUCKED and a lot of people complained. The picture was choppy. It was hard to control fast fwd and rewind and it only worked with very high bandwidth.

Posted by: Ezra2 | November 19, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I run several websites that are dedicated to primarily providing web video streaming content. I chose Flash over Silverlight hands down. I really could not tell that much of a difference between the two but it seems Flash is always improving, it is also much easier to find developers and designers who are familiar with it (hence cheaper to develop) and it is ubiquitous as this article mentions. 98% of viewers can watch video on Flash and updates are easy. Basically the old adage applies "if it ain't broke don't fix it" Flash works wonderfully, the public is use to it and it has tremendous market penetration.

Posted by: rcc_2000 | November 19, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

I could live without Silverlight, but it's Flash I really hate. I get more crashes from that piece of software than everything else I run combined. And not just on IE: on Google Chrome, too (the latter of which kindly fingers the culprit for me. And it's always Flash.) I don't mind Flash's updates, I just want one of them to actually fix the darned thing.

Posted by: bcamarda2 | November 19, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Isn't Silverlight more than just Flash? It is like saying Flex is like Flash?


Posted by: dorai | November 19, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why in this day and age one wouldn't just have both. I got it as part of my Netflix install and it works fine, although I guess, my satisfaction is more due to instant Netflix movies than to the technology displaying it. I do have a new Dell w/ plenty of memory and FiOS so I'm probably not as likely to run into resource contraints (and yes I have Vista) as others might.

But then, on the other hand, Netfix is the only use I have for Silverlight, EVERYTHING else comes via flash. hmmmm.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | November 19, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I guess this means that the odds of watching MLB on an iphone have diminished significantly since flash is unsupported.

Posted by: Ian9 | November 19, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

When will Jobs finally realize that everyone wants Flash to work on the iPhone?

Posted by: giantfan | November 19, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I never tried to watch MLB clips, but I desperately wanted to see Olympic videos of the soccer games. Although I downloaded SilverLight several times and tried everything I could think of, it just would not work on my iMac in FireFox or Safari.

Flash works. QuickTime works. I just want video that works. So who needs SilverLight??

Posted by: garyvikkimorris | November 19, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

So that's why the video on sucked.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | November 19, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Ahso, Silverlight 2.0 has 64 bit Vista Capabilities. while Flash states very broad acceptance, reasonable large number of occassions Flash is complete failure.

SilverLight is made to cover ShortFalls of Flash & MUCH,MUCH MORE.


Posted by: thomasxstewart | November 19, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I installed and tried this software once... if you want to call it that.

I call it Bloatware

It was uninstalled the same night after a few hours of "checking it out"

Posted by: indep2 | November 19, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

It's good news for me - now maybe I can once again watch games on my Linux box (though the MLB site in general is such a mess that even that is not necessarily a sure thing). Am I paranoid to suspect that Microsoft is not now and never was serious about platform independence for Silverlight?

Posted by: jgbay | November 19, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Silverlight is an attempt by the Monopoly to extend their dominance of the desktop to an area of functionality dominated by another. Adobe is fighting back with quality and an instinct for survival. Wish them luck. Heroism is not enough; they have to prosper.

Posted by: toquasin | November 19, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh well at the rate the post Bill Gates Era
Micro Soft Screw Ups are going so how long
will it be until Micro Soft Products like
silverlight and the newly messed up Windows
Live Hotmail cause Micro Soft to join the
ranks of failed Internet Giants now then?

So has anyone tried to use this miserable
non working Micro Soft Windows Live Hotmail
yet and faced it will not even let users
read their own e-mails? So just be glad
Yahoo got rid of that idiot Jerry Yang
before he screwed yahoo like Micro Soft
did by getting rid of Hotmail Classic...
Please,Dear God Don't Let Micro Soft
Hire Jerry Yang!

Posted by: Jan1977 | November 19, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Rob, per Netflix, "only a small percentage" of subscribers are currently able to access the view-now library via their Intel Macs, with or without Silverlight. Netflix promises end-of-year Mac service.

Posted by: Jessestiller | November 19, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I spend 13 to 14 hours a day working with people, especially Grandmothers and Grandfathers, their friends and family. I go the extra step with them, you know, the ones that always as you for help and you just don't have the time.
After that selfless self advert,
I think I can offer a fair comment to this issue. the answer is there is problems with both, especially on 2 to 4 year old systems, usually not a problem with current dual core systems with 2 Gig of RAM or more, and of course, DSL, Cable or FIOS (you lucky dogs!).
Not broadband, forget it, and if you are running X64 Yeah Baby with Silverlight, Flash running on Vista 64, I have not had a system yet that did not run into problems.

Anyone wanting any infor on other stuff without the BS, let me know

If you need someone with the right touch to take care of you families systems or Friends, Another Self plug here (but hey I am different then you typical remote support guy! you can understand what I say over the phone!) and I do care about my clients, try me. End of selfless plugs.
Take care all, let the Silverlight / Flash wars continue. (Adobe, please come out with an x64 version!) Hey wait, no Don't, I can use the support requests!
~Steven Longmire

Posted by: StevenLongmire | November 20, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Silverlight performs very smoothly as a Netflix movie viewer on my new iMac, but that's my only experience with it.

Rob, your column is always helpful. Thanks and best wishes.

Posted by: georgehparker3 | November 22, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

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