Microsoft Silverlight Snubs Linux Users

Microsoft Silverlight is a powerful development platform for creating engaging, interactive user experiences for the web, desktop and mobile applications, either while connected online or offline. At least, that’s what Microsoft’s says on its website. Silverlight is a browser plugin people use to view streaming movies, videos, and sporting events, as well as running business applications online. Microsoft touts that Silverlight works on all browsers, from Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and of course, Internet Explorer.

However, Silverlight only works in Windows and in Safari on the Mac OS. It doesn’t work in Linux. There are however, several open-source alternatives, like Moonlight, which mimics Silverlight. But it has come up short. There are still a number of Silverlight-powered websites that are inaccessible from the Linux desktop. Netflix comes to mind. There are also several major sports leagues that use Silverlight exclusively for live streaming. The NFL, MLB, NBA, and the MLS are just a few.

Netflix uses Silverlight because of the DRM or digital rights management issue. Netflix has to some way protect movies from being pirated online, hence the use of Silverlight. Here’s the Netflix message you’ll get if you try to run Netflix on Linux. It doesn’t really say it doesn’t support Linux, but Linux is not on the list.

Microsoft or Netflix has no plans whatsoever to include Linux users into the fold. Micorosoft doesn’t seem bothered that Linux users are being isolated from viewing popular video streaming websites. I don’t see Microsoft or Netflix changing their stance anytime soon. They are certainly not going to throw resources to develop Silverlight for the Linux desktop. It’s really a shame, because I still have to keep an old copy of Windows XP running either in a dual-boot configuration or in a Virtualbox, just for the purpose of accessing Silverlight-powered websites and other programs that work in Windows only.

I won’t hold my breath for this to change anytime soon. Maybe, one of these days Linux developers can come up with a better alternative to Moonlight. Waiting for Microsoft to open up the source code for Silverlight, is a waste of time. In the meantime, you can get a Roku box or a Xbox 360, albeit a Microsoft product, to view Netflix and other websites online.

But, there’s a catch. You also have to fork out an additional $60 a year for Xbox Live, and whatever additional subscription price others have with their services. Microsoft technology is just the opposite of what open-source and Linux stands for. It’s all about money and doesn’t care about standards.  It just doesn’t act in the best interest of all.

How DRM Cripples Your Enjoyment

I’m sure you heard by now of hundreds of people who bought the movie Avatar on Blu-Ray, but only to find out later when they got home, that they could not watch the movie from their Blu-Ray players because of DRM issues.

Mind you, this is a movie they bought and own, but they couldn’t watch it. The culprit are Blu-Ray players that need firmware upgrades. At first, it was thought to be just Samsung players.

Then, others complained it doesn’t work on other players, LG, Denon and many more. Some have bought the latest Blu-Ray players and upgraded them with the latest firmware only to find out it doesn’t work either.

DRM copyright protection is suppose to stop piracy, but it doesn’t really. Piracy is still rampant. One thing DRM does is cripple the enjoyment of those who have a legal copy, a movie they bought and own.

Amazon can reclaim your book

When you buy a book, it’s yours. You can read it, store it, sell it or even burn it. Not so if you bought a book from Amazon Kindle. There is very limited sharing. You can’t really sell it and apparently you may not even own it. Amazon apparently has the right to reclaim the book from you if they want to. They will refund the price of course (that is so nice of them), but they can still pull it away from you if they want to. Amazon also imposes the number of times you have downloaded a book. If you’ve reached a download limit, you may have to buy it again. What we need is a DRM free e-reader, but with the ability to preserve author copyrighted material. Book owners should have the freedom to buy, lend, share and sell books if they want to. If you are so sick with your Kindle, you can always burn it, but its probably not as good as burning an actual book. At least with a book, it’s an excellent kindle (pun intended) for your fireplace.

Apple EMI Deal

I remember years ago, I’m dating myself now, seeing some old 45 records of Beatles songs. I don’t recall which Beatles songs they were, but I do remember they had the familiar Apple picture label. I learned years later they were records released by the record company Apple Corps Ltd, the holder of rights for Beatles songs.

Apple Corps Ltd were founded by the fab four and still owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, the George Harrison estate and wife of the late John Lennon, Yoko Ono. EMI has been the sole distributor of Beatles songs since the 1960’s.

When Apple and EMI had reached a deal, you would think Beatles songs would be available for download in iTunes. Well, not quite yet. Apple and EMI are still working on the agreement to allow Beatles songs for download.

In the meantime, songs from Rolling Stones, Norah Jones and Coldplay are now available from iTunes for a premium. It’s $1.29 per song instead of the usual $0.99 cents. Ah, the price we have to pay.

All songs were going to be sold DRM free. When Apple sells the Beatles songs, it’s only a matter of time, it will be sold once again by a company with an Apple logo.