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Microsoft Entertainment

Major League Baseball Dumps Silverlight For Flash 388

Posted by kdawson
from the silverlight-in-the-pan dept.
christian.einfeldt writes "This week, Major League Baseball will open without Microsoft's Silverlight at the plate, according to Bob Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which handles much of the back-end operations for MLB and several other leagues and sporting events. The change was decided on last year but was set to be rolled out this spring. Among the causes of MLB's disillusionment with Silverlight were technical glitches users experienced, including needing administrator privileges to install the plugin (often impossible in workplaces). Baseball's opening day last year was plagued by Silverlight instability, with many users unable to log on and others unable to watch games. Adobe Flash already exists on 99% of user machines, said Bowman, and Adobe is 'committed to the customer experience in video with the Flash Player.' MLBAM's decision to dump Silverlight is particularly problematic for Microsoft's effort to compete with Adobe, due to the fact that MLBAM handles much of the back-end operations for CBS' Webcasts of the NCAA Basketball Tournament and this year will do the encoding for the 2009 Masters golf tournament."
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Major League Baseball Dumps Silverlight For Flash

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  • by XorNand (517466) * on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:53PM (#27497577)
    I wish the article would have explained why MLB went with Silverlight in the first place. What kind of arm-twisting (or hooker-and-blow-providing) could MS have possibly done to convince a company to take such a major financial gamble? For the most part, Silverlight is largely unproven tech and--to add insult to injury--proprietary. Can someone explain the appeal?
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:57PM (#27497617) Homepage Journal

    I can guess why.
    1. Microsoft probably offered a bunch of technical help.
    2. Silverlight has a much better programing model the Flash. I have not looked at Flex yet but Flash is nasty.
    3. Probably thought that they would get better performance out of it.

    Flash is in this case is the Devil that we know. Silverlight is the Devil we don't so Flash will probably win this fight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:02PM (#27497665)

    Nearly all front end developers know javascript, and are therefore quite capable of flash programming. Silverlight has low market penetration and nobody wants to use it because it's widely seen as the latest in a long series of failed attempts to Microsoftize the web.

  • by weston (16146) <westonsd AT canncentral DOT org> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:08PM (#27497737) Homepage

    ... as they say.

    As industry devils go, Flash has fairly low levels of evil. It's proven, it fills a niche, it works, and while it's not wide open, it's not exactly locked shut either.

  • by tcopeland (32225) <tom&thomasleecopeland,com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:18PM (#27497817) Homepage

    I cancelled my subscription last year because the player interaction/interface/experience/whatever was just dreadful. Heading over there now to sign up for this year, go Yankees!

  • Re:work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindowlessView (703773) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:21PM (#27497837)

    why are people trying to watch MLB on their work computers in the first place?

    Have you ever watched or listened to a baseball game? It's been the chosen background noise of America since the 1930s. It's not like a lot happens that is going to disrupt your work.

  • by grahamd0 (1129971) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:22PM (#27497855)

    Silverlight has a much better programing model the Flash. I have not looked at Flex yet but Flash is nasty.

    Sure, the Flash IDE is a toy, the timeline is only useful for simple animation, and Actionscript 1 and 2 are crap, but Flash isn't bad at all if you're working on a pure code-based Actionscript 3 project.

  • by owlnation (858981) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:28PM (#27497905)

    go Yankees!

    Mod parent insightful!

  • Re:HTML 5? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:29PM (#27497917)
    The whole point of using flash for video is to 1) prevent viewers from skipping over ads, and 2) prevent viewers from saving the streaming video to disk. If you allow native web browser applications, then what is to prevent users from substituting their own native application which violates points 1 and 2?
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:01PM (#27498191)

    Flash is in this case is the Devil that we know. Silverlight is the Devil we don't so Flash will probably win this fight.

    Not true anymore. Apparently, Silverlight is now the Devil that MLBAM has gotten to know, and they decided they hated him so much that they went back to the other devil they already know, Flash.

    A high-profile reverse-course like this has got to be really bad news for MS. You'd think that, in trying to unseat Flash, they would have spent a little more effort making sure everything worked just right so that people wouldn't try it out and hate it, and go right back to what they were using before. Pissing off your early (and high-profile) adopters is NOT a good way to run a business and build marketshare.

  • Re:HTML 5? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:04PM (#27498221)

    Yes, you can save in PowerPoint 2007's format. Or in the old-style PowerPoint format. Or in ODF format. Or as a PDF.

    What exactly are you complaining about?

  • by RedK (112790) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:29PM (#27498403)
    Except right now, it only supports WMV, WMA and MP3. That's pretty far from your assertion that it supports what the user wants. From your FAQ :

    Windows Media Audio and Video 7,8,9 (WMA, WMAPro, WMV/VC-1), as well as MP3 audio. Microsoft has announced support for H.264/MPEG AVC and AAC playback in a future version of Silverlight coming in early 2009. We will explore the need for additional formats and codecs based on customer feedback and market need over time. Our philosophy around media formats support is "choice". It is important to note that Silverlight is a format-agnostic RIA environment that should support any media format that users require. The addition of native H.264/AAC video and audio decode inside of Silverlight is all about providing choice to customers.

    So basically, either you have to ask Microsoft to support it or maybe write support yourself, which you'll probably then have to distribute to everyone. Yeah, way to be open...

  • by Phase Shifter (70817) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:34PM (#27498433) Homepage

    >

    As industry devils go, Flash has fairly low levels of evil. It's proven, it fills a niche, it works, and while it's not wide open, it's not exactly locked shut either.

    ...For small values of "works."

    Anyone else having problems with "You muct have flash 9 or greater" messages using the non-IE version of the flash plugin?

    If I still have to use Microsoft's browser to get Flash to work, then it's no better than Silverlight.

  • "You'd think that ... they [Microsoft] would have spent a little more effort making sure everything worked just right..."

    I agree with everything you said.

    It's interesting that the failures of technological companies are often social failures, not fundamentally technological failures.

    What theories do you have about why Microsoft allowed the failure to happen? Has Microsoft become unable to function? Or, is Microsoft accustomed to its virtual monopoly causing people to accept Microsoft software no matter how buggy? Or, what?
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:57PM (#27498583) Homepage
    What theories do you have about why Microsoft allowed the failure to happen?

    Judging by some of Microsoft's recent bad moves, such as the bewildering array of Vista versions, re-working of the Office UI for Office 2007, the enormous bloat they added to it and so on, I'm beginning to believe that the programmers and developers no longer control development. It's beginning to look like MS is being controlled by marketdroids who not only have no clue what their customers want, they have no desire to gain one. It's a shame, really, they used to be able to produce good products that people actually wanted.

  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@NospAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:10PM (#27498669)

    It should be plenty fine to play a fucking video.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:28PM (#27498833) Journal

    A chimp on a flying chair.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:15PM (#27499181)

    Exactly. As far as I'm concerned, any failure in any company can be blamed on those at the top. They're the ones who have the ultimate power to change things (even if they didn't cause them, and were hired on later), and they're the ones that are paid ridiculous sums of money for their supposed talent. If they're so skilled and talented, they should be able to manage their company so that it performs well.

    Of course, a lot of a company's problems can be blamed on its structure, corporate culture, etc., but again, these are things that upper management has the power to look into and change, by drastic means if necessary.

    Personally, I think that large companies have a big disadvantage in that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, and that they're so large it's too hard for them to change quickly and adapt, and there's too much infighting. It would probably be better if many very large companies split up into smaller companies. MS should have long, long ago split up into separate OS and app companies. Instead, they've squandered enormous sums of money on failed or unprofitable ventures like Zune, Xbox, MSN, etc., which could have been returned to shareholders instead.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:19PM (#27499213) Homepage Journal

    "Silverlight - Great performance, and the best Video streaming delivery for SD and HD content. PERIOD."

    That is not true. PERIOD.
    What is that the Ad ergo punctuation fallacy?

    Ah, so you have drank the kool-aid. Well done.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:25PM (#27499245)

    I'd like to add that you can see examples of how a company's upper management totally influences the way it does things. For instance, MS is always doing a sloppy job on stuff, and has really horrible marketing (e.g., the MSN butterflies) that people make fun of. Their upper management hasn't changed substantially in several decades now. Apple, OTOH, always is really anal about little details like their packaging, making sure their user experience is just the way they want it, etc., and this has always been attributed to Steve Jobs (they sure weren't like that under Sculley). (For the record, I'm no Apple fanboy, as I'm a Linux fan instead, but I do appreciate Apple's dedication to quality products and styling, even if it's not exactly my own taste. Just like I'd never buy a Rolls-Royce even if I was a billionaire, though I can appreciate their styling, and I can appreciate good country music like Johnny Cash even though I don't really like country music.)

    But it's not going to change until the board throws Ballmer out and puts someone better in his place. But with the way large corporations work, that's not likely to happen, unless MS starts having really serious financial problems. Some shareholders are upset and complaining (although that makes me wonder why they still own stock), but it's not enough to force a change.

  • by aaron.axvig (1238422) <aaron@axvigs.com> on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:21AM (#27500175)

    I pray to the gods of streaming video that Netflix doesn't follow suit! I hate running flash on my machine, it is such a performance dog. In fact, I and millions of other people regularly click on the view now button, and are rewarded with a stellar viewing experience that is capable of streaming high-quality videos (not that other products aren't capable of such)!

    Many millions are able to really enjoy their full netflix service because of their common sense in recognizing that it is OK to install Silverlight on their computers. It does not have a separate updater always running (Flash does) but rather uses the one that comes with Windows. It works in multiple browsers on multiple platforms. If Hulu and the MLB can stream full length movies with Silverlight, I recommend to all of my friends to join in the party! And we all watch more movies on whichever service we want because we aren't fools that don't install Silverlight because of some personal bias against Microsoft!!

  • by JohnBailey (1092697) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @04:59AM (#27501061)

    It's beginning to look like MS is being controlled by marketdroids who not only have no clue what their customers want, they have no desire to gain one. It's a shame, really, they used to be able to produce good products that people actually wanted.

    Don't forget Uncle Fester is a salesman. And he is also the big boss. Bill Gates, for all his megalomaniac tendencies, was at least technically literate. So he could provide a steering influence to the company on technical grounds rather than purely make money to finance the next version which makes more money to pay for the next version. Selling a technological product requires the people making the decisions to be technical people. Nothing wrong with profits, so long as profits are not the only consideration.

    Or to use the beloved car analogy.. When the colour and appearance of a car is the most important aspect for the company, the car is going to eventually be crap if they ignore the trivial things like the engine and the steering. Which is why a Ferarri doesn't just look good, and a Toyota doesn't just run well.

    Question is... What happens to Microsoft if the WOW doesn't start with 7?

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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