Linux Can Now Access Silverlight; The Rat Race Between Silverlight and Adobe Flash Continues

The open-source, Novell-sponsored Mono Project released Moonlight 1.0, which allows Linux desktop users to access Microsoft Silverlight content. Novell’s Moonlight also allows Linux users to access Windows multimedia content, including Windows Media Video, Windows Media Audio and MP3 files (all supported through the Microsoft Media Pack). This is one of Microsoft’s first real commitments in participating and supporting an open-source extension of one of their products. Moonlight 1.0 is based on Silverlight 1.0 with Moonlight 2.0 (compatible with Silverlight 2) set to be rolled out later this year.

Silverlight is Microsoft’s platform for rich media applications and was best known for delivering video content for the Bejing 2008 Summer Olympics and as the media platform for the official feed of President’s Obama’s inauguration in January. Linux users were able to use the Moonlight application to watch the inauguration. Silverlight is direct competitor to Adobe Flash and the two applications are in a heated battle to gain market share in enabling rich media applications. Linux users have been able to use Flash applications.

There is some debate as to which application is better and whether one or the other is picking up speed. Of course, high profile clients like NBC, the Presidential Inauguration Committee and even the Democratic National Committee (Silverlight was used to stream the Democratic party’s convention proceedings in last year) are helping Microsoft penetrate the market. And we noted that online movie rental service Netflix is using Microsoft Silverlight to allow subscribers to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Macs. Mac users were formerly out of luck when it came to watching NetFlix movies on their computers.

But a few weeks ago, Adobe said its AIR and Flash Player 10 applications received a record number of downloads in the past year, with AIR receiving more than 100 million installations. Looks like there is no clear cut winner yet.

Moonlight has already proven useful to tens of thousands of Linux users. A pre-release of Moonlight was delivered on January 19, 2009 to allow Linux users to stream Barack Obama’s Inauguration. More than 20,000 Linux users downloaded Moonlight to watch the Silverlight broadcast.