Silverlight, the other Flash

If you follow this blog then you may recall me railing against websites that require the use of the Adobe Flash browser plug-in, which I removed from my iMac in November 2010 and never reinstalled. I watch quite a lot of YouTube (too much to be honest) and lack of Flash was a challenge. For a long time my solution was to use Connor McKay’s YouTube5 Safari Extension but in September 2014, when I had turned off Extensions for some reason, I noticed that YouTube seemed to be working fine – presumably it had started serving HTML5 to browsers without Flash. A few days ago YouTube went further and announced that they are now serving HTML5 by default (at least in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and beta versions of Firefox). They are also deprecating “old style” Flash <object> embeds and their Flash API.

But Flash is not the only proprietary technology used for serving video. I searched on Parliament TV today for a speech by George Galloway and found it here. Unfortunately I couldn’t watch because “Silverlight does not appear to be correctly installed on this computer”. Sometimes changing Safari’s user agent string to one used by an iPad is a workaround but when I did that the only option was to watch streams live – the archives were not available. In this case it didn’t really matter because I had already seen the speech posted elsewhere, but if I did need to view archives on Parliament TV it seems like my only option would be to install Silverlight.

According to Wikipedia Microsoft Silverlight is a deprecated application framework for writing and running rich Internet applications, similar to Adobe Flash. Apparently Microsoft announced in 2013 that they had ceased development on Silverlight except for patches and bugfixes. As with Flash I am reluctant to install plug-ins for proprietary frameworks, particularly deprecated ones. There is no reason why the Parliament TV website could not be built on open standards, and the same goes for the Ordnance Survey getamap service which also requires Silverlight.

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2 responses to “Silverlight, the other Flash

  1. Update. I emailed Ordnance Survey about their use of Silverlight and got a reply today which said “You’ll be interested to know that we are currently working on a new version of OS getamap. This will offer improved interface, better functionality and greater stability. It will also move away from using Silverlight and will work in conjunction with HTML5 instead”.

  2. Update. I just tried watching something on Parliament TV (not live) and rather than telling me I needed Silverlight it just worked. Here are a couple of handy tables which show current OS/player specifications for Parliament TV, both live and VOD, for desktop and mobile platforms.

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