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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 @07:53PM (#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 @07:57PM (#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 grahamd0 (1129971) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:22PM (#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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Are there any decent free platforms for developing for Flash using actionscript? For a hobbyist like me I can't afford to plunk the change down for their IDE.

        • by dudpixel (1429789) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:56PM (#27499041)

          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.

          I agree with this. Having used flex/actionscript3 recently it is very easy to learn/use, even on linux - and worked great. Admittedly I was only doing a simple game but as a programmer I was impressed at how easy it was to get up and running.

          Find a good text editor that does syntax highlighting for actionscript (even as2 highlighting will work ok) and just use the console-based compiler for generating the swf files.

          I never liked flash before - and I'm still not a fan of websites coded entirely in flash, but I'm starting to become a fan of flash programming and the web apps it can potentially produce :)

          I did look at silverlight but the linux plugin (moonlight) is a long way from compatibility with the windows one (2 versions behind!), and also I saw the term ".NET" and decided I'd see what flash was like these days...and I'm glad I did. :) The flex SDK (including flex/actionscript compiler) is free so you can develop flash on linux/mac/windows and its free. This is a huge plus for me.

      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:01PM (#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.

        • "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 @09:57PM (#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 JohnBailey (1092697) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @05:59AM (#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?

            • I agree with every criticism you wrote except Office 2007. After a few weeks, I found it far more intuitive to use and productive than any previous version of Office.

              I think it's a fair criticism of Microsoft that they often rearrange GUIs and document command line alternatives poorly solely for the purpose of selling training and tech support. But the Office 2007 UI redesign, for at least some tasks, seems to be a case (exception?) where they did it for the right reason - to make it better.
          • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:07PM (#27498647)

            What theories do you have about why Microsoft allowed the failure to happen? Has Microsoft become unable to function?

            It goes to the top. Until the board comes to its senses and gets rid of Ballmer, Microsoft is going to continue its slow, steady slouch toward... ... well, toward a lucrative government bailout.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Grishnakh (216268)

              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., bu

              • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:25PM (#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 symbolset (646467) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @01:27AM (#27499927) Journal

            They were counting on the massive market share of Vista to put it over.

            Oops.

    • Depends on who it needed to appeal to.

      If it's management, it only needs to work in the demo and be new and shiny.

      If it's the IT dept it only needs to be stable and easily managed. Oh, and do the job.

    • by tpgp (48001) * on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:05PM (#27497709) Homepage

      -to add insult to injury--proprietary.

      Flash is no less proprietary.

    • The only thing I can think is that perhaps they were planning a redesign anyway and some pointy-head got their devs thinking about this "new Silverlight thing" he read about in the latest Ass-Hatting Executives, Monthly.

      Now, let's look at the request headers, shall we?

      Server: Sun-ONE-Web-Server/6.1

      Hmm. Looks like somebody higher-up caught wind of the price tag for running a Microsoft shop and decided on another approach. Can't say I blame him. Java p0wns enterprise webapp-land.

      And for all the hatred that

    • by gardyloo (512791) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:22PM (#27497863)

      I wish the article would have explained why MLB went with Silverlight in the first place

      There was a mixup and they thought they were going with the Fleshlight.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by owlnation (858981)
      Yeah, that's a good question. I suspect that MS offered a lot to get them to use it. MLB.TV was the only reason I installed silverlight. I suspect I am not alone. If MLB offered a choice between the two I'd never have installed it. I've yet to come across another site where it's necessary. Now I can safely uninstall it, and most likely never need it again. I had endless problems with it -- especially on my Mac. Silverlight simply did not work well.

      The new flash player for MLB.TV this year is a vast impro
    • by Trogre (513942)

      An all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii for the product demonstration?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by joocemann (1273720)

      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?

      Also, most people don't have or use or even WANT to use Silverlight.

    • by SenFo (761716)

      This "proprietary" argument is getting old.

      Silverlight is an open-standard. While Microsoft doesn't actively develop a Linux client, they have collaborated with Novel to bring the Moonlight project [mono-project.com] to the Linux and other Unix/X11 platforms.

      Granted, the Moonlight 2.0 implementation is behind Microsoft's implementation, with the Moonlight Roadmap [mono-project.com] indicating a planed release date of September 2009. While this is frustrating to end users and developers, I don't think it's fair to call Silverlight "proprietary".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:49PM (#27498087)

      I interviewed with them a few years ago.

      MLB.com had all their video in WMV and a pre-exisitng Windows Media Server infrastructure, because they were very concerned about rights management.

      Because they were a big Flash shop, they had to do a lot of mixing and matching Flash and JS to work with Windows Media player.

      When Silverlight came out, it looked like it would be an all-in-one deal that would let them retain their existing video infrastructure and clips, and be able to better utilize them inside the RIA's they build.

      They gave it a shot because it cost them almost nothing, MLB.com is rolling in dough and gets free stuff all the time because they're high profile.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:35PM (#27498445) Homepage Journal

        because they were very concerned about rights management.

        Considering they threaten to sue anyone who uses the term "World Series", that doesn't surprise me.

        Every time I hear some poor minimum-wage sports radio announcer have to use the term "The Fall Classic" when he really means the Series, I spit on Major League Baseball.

        Next, they'll want me to call White Sox Park "US Cellular Field" instead of the canonical "Comiskey Field".

        Which reminds me, has anybody else noticed the amazing discipline that McDonalds has forced sportscasters to exercise now that All-Americans have become "McDonalds All-Americans".

        During every broadcast I watched of the NCAA tourney, whenever there was mention of the top high-school players, it was always "McDonalds All-Americans" and nobody even choked on it once.

    • by MouseR (3264)

      Flash is as proprietary as SilverLight.

      Dont get me wrong. I hate Flash and for one am glad my iPhone is not plagued by flash content.

      But besides SL being unproven, is no more mediocre or evil than Flash.

    • I wish the article would have explained why MLB went with Silverlight in the first place.

      Here's what I've seen. The reps bypass the IT department and pitch directly to the execs. Every IT shop...except mine...has a couple Microsoft cheerleaders. So between the former Ms. Arizona sales rep and rah-rah squad on staff, management starts believing it'll actually work. Most management types don't understand the concept of scale. Just because you can make a product work in a demo or for a small number of

  • That's like saying (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:54PM (#27497579) Homepage Journal

    "Major League Baseball Dumps Pact with Demons for Pact with the Devil."

  • Have no fear, the Microsoft fanboys will soon tell us the many, many reasons why this is actually a good thing and how, Real Soon Now, Microsoft will fix it and add dozens of fabulous new features that make Adobe software a thing of the past. The Mono fanboys will do much the same, although nobody will understand why.
    • As someone who is currently writing a medium scale .NET application and intending on releasing it as GPL, I'd really rather compile against Mono but they aren't 3.5 compatible.

      In addition to that, it seemed to me the integration with Visual Studio IDE wasn't that good. Hate to say it, but the Visual Studio IDE is pretty much bomb compared to a lot of the open source stuff I've used in the past, including Eclipse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:02PM (#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.

    • Agreed.

      I tend to view Silverlight as the black sheep of the family of WPF UI-programming technologies; an approach that is useful for desktop application development, but an utterly inappropriate choice for web content.

  • Until they have a "Do not ask me again" checkbox directly on the "This site wants to store data" dialog I will continue to leave flash disabled.

    I don't want every site able to store data, but some sites will not play anything that way, because they store data files locally instead of using the browser cache. I can steal youtube videos directly out of the cache, but I can't get crap out of these sties that store things using flash storage unless I allow sites to store.

    Well, I have no way of knowing which si

  • Tag: goodriddance (Score:2, Redundant)

    by PingXao (153057)

    That's part of it. The other part is how I guess I'm in the 1% who does not have Flashy installed. On my machines I've said "good riddance" to that, too. Except for one, but on that one I use FlashBlock and I probably actually click through maybe 1 out of 500 flashy thingies to let them play.

  • by dingDaShan (818817) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:13PM (#27497773)
    MLB could benefit from the high resolution available. Has anyone watched the March Madness on Demand from Cbs.sportsline.com? The quality was amazing... much better than any flash video that I have watched. It seems that Flash is way behind in terms of video. Youtube is NOT good quality. Cbs.sportsline.com's video scaled down or up based on the available bandwidth and was an excellent viewing experience. Of course, I am not factoring in the business aspects, but the quality of silverlight's video can be high. further reading http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/61563 [sportsbusi...ournal.com]
  • Microsoft today announced the release of version 2.0 of its world-beating Silverlight multimedia platform for the Web. As a replacement for Adobe's Flash, it is widely considered utterly superfluous [today.com] and of no interest to anyone who could be found.

    "We have a fabulous selection of content partners for Silverlight," announced Microsoft marketer Scott Guthrie on his blog today. "NBC for the Olympics, which delivered millions of new users to BitTorrent. The Democrat National Committee, which is fine because those Linux users are all Ron Paul weirdos anyway. It comes with rich frameworks, rich controls, rich networking support, a rich base class library, rich media support, oh God kill me now. My options are underwater, my resume's a car crash, Google won't call me back. My life is an exercise in futility. I'm the walking dead, man. The walking dead."

    Silverlight was created by Microsoft to leverage its desktop monopoly on Windows, to work off the tremendous sales and popularity of Vista. Flash is present on a pathetic 96% of all computers connected to the Internet, whereas Silverlight downloads are into the triple figures.

    "But it's got DRM!" cried Guthrie. "Netflix loved it! And web developers love us too, after all we did for them with IE 6. Wait, come back! We'll put porn on it! Free porn!"

    Similar Microsoft initiatives include its XPS replacement for Adobe PDF, its HD Photo replacement for JPEG photographs and its earlier Liquid Motion attempt to replace Flash. Also, that CD-ROM format Vista defaults to which no other computers can read.

    In a Microsoft internal security sweep, Guthrie's own desktop was found to still be running Windows XP.

  • HTML 5? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RonGHolmes (574268) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @08:18PM (#27497815) Homepage
    I'm still surprised companies aren't jumping on the HTML 5 bandwagon. Eschew flash and plug-ins for native web browser applications and video. http://280slides.com/ [280slides.com] is a great example of what can be done. The ObjectiveJ they're developing is truly amazing - and it's all browser native. Even IE 8 works. I hate to say it, but Apple are right for once - get rid of flash and other plug-in based user interfaces and get back to basics. Share your JavaScript frameworks, use local storage and more - embrace HTML 5.
  • This is a typical case of top down management with flashy MBA's looking at BS numbers from large entities with conflicting interests (sound familiar, if not then look-up Arthur Anderson or Enron, conflict of interest, on Google). I can bet some IT company that is a Microsoft partner fed the MLB board some lame numbers showing that Microsoft is on everyones desktop thus Silverlight will be a no brainer. The fact the Microsoft technology is immature and the competition (Adobe flash) is extremely mature with l
  • by Eyah....TIMMY (642050) * on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @09:42PM (#27498499)
    Yes everyone has flash, but what they don't tell you is that you'll also need the Swarmcast NexDef browser plug-in.
    Check out the not so great review of the flash/nexdef experience: MLB Support Forums [mlbsupport.com]

    Oh and if you want to also understand this from Microsoft's perspective: Miscosoft SL Team Blog [silverlight.net]
    The CBS March Madness HQ streaming was SilverLight and was a huge success.
  • Screw Flash (Score:3, Informative)

    by techsoldaten (309296) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:21PM (#27498779) Journal

    I really don't care what technology they use, just make it work.

    Today, the audio of the first 2 innings of the Red Sox game were replaced with a high pitching whining noise. Opening day and all I could do is turn off the sound.

    M

  • by actionbastard (1206160) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:47PM (#27498955)
    And 0 and 2 to Ballmer.
    MLB is up one zip on that last homerun by Adobe Flash.
    "Bud" Selig goes into his windup...and Ballmer gives it tremendous jolt!
    It's going, going, and it's gone!
    Right off the 'Microsoft will give MLB all the assistance it needs in the way of servers, tech support, and donated Windows Server 2008 licenses in every MLB stadium across the country if you'll install Silverlight' sign in center field!
    The crowd is going wild!
    They're pouring onto the field!
    They've got Selig down and there cramming Ubuntu Server DVDs down his throat!
    And wait...they're after Ballmer now hurling chairs...but he seems to be holding them off with free copies of...Yes! Windows XP!
    I've never seen anything like this in all my years in Baseball.
    This is truly a sad, sad, day.
    This is Bob Uecker signing off.
    Next, 'Silverlight' returns to MLB after the All Star break 2009. Right after these messages.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:14PM (#27499177) Homepage Journal

    Flash, savior of the Universe.
    Flash, It will save everyone of us
    Flash It's a miracle
    Flash, King of the impossible

    I mean, duh.

  • Pay service? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Wednesday April 08, 2009 @03:01AM (#27500333)

    It's too bad that MLB charges money for this service. Considering the number of ads that naturally fit into a baseball game broadcast, it should still be profitable to broadcast it for free. This works well for TV stations which broadcast baseball games, and it's also been very successful for the web broadcasts of the NCAA basketball tournament in recent years.

    Of course, it's not free because the MLB won't pass up this (or any) chance to make money. Never mind the fact that the game broadcasts themselves are also ads, since the fans often buy merchandise and tickets.

    I would love to see the day come when virtually any sporting event is broadcast online for free. The economics seem to add up. Because of the importance of a live broadcast, and the frequency of breaks in the action, ads actually make sense as a way to pay for sports broadcasts. I don't often tolerate ads for any other sort of video.

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