Web-Killer 2.0

Carl Howe’s “Microsoft’s Silverlight and Adobe’s Apollo: Web-Killer 2.0” argues that “these proprietary browser extensions break the utility of the World Wide Web in important ways”:

  • Put users into plug-in hell.
  • Create Web ghettos.
  • Don’t provide accessibility.
  • Make search a pain.

It’s a great beginning to a real debate about the place of technologies like Silverlight that many others have been fawning over.

He doesn’t mention one that I would add:

  • Require users to accept closed, proprietary software. You can have a completely Free/Libre experience of using the web, until you hit Flash / Silverlight content, which cannot be accessed in a pure open stack, and may never be ported to Linux (Flash Player has finally been ported to Linux – no word on Silverlight).

My only nit to pick is that Apollo’s really not the target here so much as Flash itself is – Apollo’s really about extending web apps (which can be in Flash or Ajax) to the desktop. (The media loves an opportunity to put Adobe up against Microsoft – and painting Silverlight as going up against Flash would require acknowledging how long Flash has been in use).

That said, similar criticisms can be extended, since Apollo only deepens the distinction between those who have it and those who don’t, and extends the life of Flash as a web-delivery mechanism.