“Why port Microsoft’s new own-the-web Silverlight to Linux” Miguel de Icaza replied to the question,”Why port Microsoft’s new own-the-web Silverlight to Linux”:
I believe that [Silverlight] will become an important component in future applications… if there is no Silverlight for Linux, we will be prevented from getting access to content and applications that will be available.
So we got a couple of strategies dealing with this:
(a) the ostrich strategy also known as the “i-cant-hear-you” strategy: pretend that Silverlight does not exist and hope that by ignoring it, it will go away and vanish.
(b) Hope that nobody adopts it. I seriously doubt that Silverlight will not be adopted, in particular the CLR version shows a lot of promise.
(c) Be proactive and implement it ourselves: we got most of the hard bits of the technology already (a CLR, a JIT, the GC, the core class libraries, even up to some parts of LINQ).
I understand this argument as “This technology may be successful, and I don’t want to get locked out of useful information because my preferred platform (Linux) is unsupported.”
Maybe Miguel does have the right approach. Maybe history will prove me wrong. (It’s difficult for me to ignore the past 25 years of computing, though.)
I’m sympathetic to that point of view (try running Adobe’s so-called “Flash Player for Linux” on anything more exotic than 32-bit x86 Linux, for example), but I see the third option as somewhat impractical.
Doesn’t making any technology more widely available increase its viability? Adobe, for example, certainly beats the Big Drum of So-Called Linux Compatibility when promoting Flash over other proprietary technologies. Microsoft seems pretty pleased with itself that it’s figured out that cross-platform means something slightly more than “runs on multiple flavors of Windows Vista”. I take that as evidence that a certain degree of platform independence is strategically important at least as marketing copy.
I’m not sure that making the life of the marketing department of a convicted monopolist which just loves to embrace, extend, and extinguish competition is the best way to spread freedom through software. Imagine if Netscape had decided that the best way to stay relevant in 2000 was to create a clone of IE 4 instead of restarting and creating Mozilla.
Imagine building a Free word processor that read .doc files and not ODF.