Silverlight 1.1: No Love for PPC Macs

John Lam of Microsoft has written a nice blog post called “Clearing the air about Silverlight and the DLR”. In it, he confirms that the final version of Silverlight 1.1 will not support PowerPC Macs:

  • 9. Silverlight V1.1 will only target Intel Mac OS X machines.

This is unfortunate but not surprising. Making .NET work on PowerPC would cost Microsoft time and money. According to this report, Apple sold 17.2 million PowerPC Macs running OS X between 2001 and 2005. Numbers for Intel Macs are a little less clear but seem to be in the 10-12 million range. Bottom line is that they’re blowing off half of the Mac installed base for the sake of their programmers’ convenience. Guess Bruce Chizen was right to question their commitment to cross-platform, huh?

On a more positive note, John Lam’s post also reveals that the new JScript implementation from Microsoft targets ECMAScript 3, which is the same version of ECMAScript supported by Flash Player. It’s great to see Microsoft doing something positive w.r.t. JavaScript/ECMAScript after ignoring it for so long (the ECMAScript 3 standard was published in 2001), even if they are just following our lead. Maybe Microsoft will even start contributing to ECMAScript 4 efforts soon…

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~ by Andrew Shebanow on 07May07.

26 Responses to “Silverlight 1.1: No Love for PPC Macs”

  1. you forget the GNU/Linux users… Wich is larger then the the Mac users…

  2. The .NET CLR _already_ works on the PowerPC architecture, namely the Xbox 360 (made available through XNA). Not doing a port to Mac PPC is therefore more likely a deliberate middle finger pointed at Mac users rather than a choice based on cost analysis.

  3. @onno: I didn’t forget the GNU/Linux users, Microsoft did. I just didn’t make a big deal about it in this post because that was already well known, whereas the decision to drop PPC Macs was new information.

    @fmu: Interesting point, thanks. I had forgotten about the Xbox 360 angle. Still, I doubt it was done as a “deliberate middle finger” – the simplest explanation is simply laziness.

  4. Indeed, the JIT itself and everything works on the PPC (along with a lot of other platforms considering Silverlight is being made to work on Windows Mobile). And that should be the hardest part. The API hooks themselves should already all be hooked up for Mac OS X because of the ICBM side of Silverlight 1.1. AFAICT, the effort is connecting the already existing PPC JIT to the already existing Mac OS X API port. But that doesn’t increase profit margin.

    If MS can show it to companies running on OS X, they can convince them to switch to MS’s brand of RIA. By the time said clients figure out they can’t run it on a lot of machines, MS already has the contracts and promotions signed.

    Look at everything MS dropped for Mac OS X because it didn’t bring a profit. VPC, WMP, RDC (seems to be dead, hasn’t been updated for recent versions of Terminal Services), IE, et cetera.

  5. I knew this Intel-only thing was a Microsoft-Adobe conspiracy! What, did you guys get together over beers to collude on alienating G5 owners? 😉

  6. @Mithras: Have you been reading my email? 🙂

    Seriously, though, I assume you are referring to the recent CS3 video apps that came back to the Mac, since I don’t know of any other major Adobe software that doesn’t support PPC Macs. (Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others.) The PPC video thing was based on the sheer quantity of x86-tuned optimizations in the codebase and the cost/benefit of bringing those features to the PPC Mac. Its a bit of a different situation because high end video apps have serious hardware requirements and there aren’t a lot of people out there with old Macs who are willing to cough up the bucks to buy such high end apps yet aren’t willing to upgrade their hardware.

    On the other hand, for software that really does need to be ubiquitous like Reader and Flash, supporting Mac PPC is essential. That goes for Silverlight too.

  7. I don’t know of any other major Adobe software that doesn’t support PPC Macs.

    Adobe’s new audio app, Soundbooth, also ignores PPC macs. It was the trailblazer in that regard. Bruce Chizen has no shortage of nerve.

    Look at everything MS dropped for Mac OS X because it didn’t bring a profit. VPC, WMP, RDC (seems to be dead, hasn’t been updated for recent versions of Terminal Services), IE, et cetera.

    That’s sort of a weird list. VPC would have needed rewriting from scratch to cope with Intel macs, where it would have suffered in comparison to pure-virtualization approaches (or become one). WMP sucked profoundly and was shunned. MS is presumably paying Flip4Mac to distribute the WMV playback Quicktime codec, if not also for its development. IE was killed everywhere, and before MS decided to resurrect it, Safari got way too far ahead.

    I don’t use RDC, but these are all at least arguably justified decisions, as opposed to the Silverlight thing, which is absurd.

  8. I think this is a bit overblown. The time it takes to get widespread adoption of the platform will overlap the upgrade window for a lot of OS X users. If there are already 30-50% of OS X users on Intel (by your estimates), how long until you’re at 70% adoption? It took Flash until version 5 to hit 70% adoption. By the time the platform has matured (assuming it does, which is arguable), I think the number of OS X users on PPC will be so small as to be largely irrelevant.

  9. Given that Apple themselves won’t likely be supporting PowerPC machines for more than a couple more years, why is everyone/anyone really surprised that Microsoft wouldn’t put forth any effort to support PowerPC Macs? It’s not like they can just fire up Xcode and build a Universal Binary for the .NET framework.

    On the flip side of the coin, when is Adobe going to get around to releasing a Universal Binary or Intel-specific Shockwave Director plug-in instead of requiring us to run the browser under Rosetta if we need to use the plug-in?

  10. There’s no way that intel macs make up half of the installed base of OSX. Macs typically last for a lot longer then PCs do. There’s still a ton of macs from the last 2-10 years that people are using, and they’re all PPC.

  11. @Rosyna: WMP was supposed to bring a profit though. It’s advertised that business can build pay-per-view and rental services on top of the WMP DRM, but then Microsoft never made it work on Mac at all and finally dumped any future development. It seems counter-intuitive from a business standpoint.

    Macs are largely in people’s homes. A big percentage of Window computers are sitting on people’s desks at work.

    Microsoft’s past and present web strategies should not appeal to businesses because they exclude customers. On the web you can easily have something that works cross-platform. Why choose a solution that will lose you 5 to 10% of your potential income?

  12. Apologies for taking so long to moderate these comments. Its been a busy week here at Casa Adobe…

  13. Who cares, yet to see anything that looks beyond a Flash 4 demo on this.

  14. […] Windows Media videos, so this has to be taken as good news. Unfortunately, however, Microsoft is apparently not going to support PPC Macs in future releases of Silverlight (via […]

  15. Don’t forget that Silverlight also contains Windows Media stuff as well as the CLR/DLR stuff – and that may be Intel specific. I’d also go with the poster who pointed out it’s a future product. No one’s going to base a consumer business on Silverlight deployed apps for a good few years. You’ll see some interesting toys, and I’d wager adoption inside the corporate sphere where a company knows all the machines are running right version.

    BTW – I thought that AS3 was based on ECMAScript 4.0 not 3.0??

  16. @JulesLT: The Windows Media stuff is not the problem with Silverlight 1.1 – Microsoft already has those codecs working on PPC for Silverlight 1.0. Its the .NET stuff that caused them to drop support.

    As for your BTW comment, ECMAScript v4 isn’t done yet. We are in compliance with the Netscape proposal for v4, but I was being an overly pedantic standards nerd and only talking about the last approved standard. Adobe has commited to having Tamarin be compliant with the final v4 standard.

  17. > you forget the GNU/Linux users… Wich is larger then the the Mac users…

    It is ridiculous to say there are more Linux users than Mac users, however it is also ridiculous to say you’re on the Web if you can’t run in Firefox on any Unix. Somebody at Microsoft knows C, right?

    Also, Silverlight will not run on iPhone or PlayStation or PSP or Wii or Nokia. The Web is quite clearly moving off the PC an into everything. The PSP has better CSS support than Explorer by the way.

    MPEG-4 is where this stuff is happening. It plays everywhere and it is not built from scratch with thousands of new bugs, it is the standardization of the decade-old QuickTime container, it already works with ALL of the content-creation tools that already worked with QuickTime. With a container format, the movie has multiple independent layers which can be audio tracks, video tracks, subtitle tracks stored as localizable plain text, Flash movies, Java, MIDI, whatever is appropriate to your content.

    After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to unseat QuickTime, now Microsoft goes after Flash? It is like revenge of the 90’s.

    > the recent CS3 video apps that came back to the Mac
    > doesn’t support PPC Macs.

    If you have a PowerPC Mac and you’re into video, you are already happy with either iMovie, Final Cut Express, Final Cut Pro, Avid, or others. These apps are built for Intel Macs because it will be a few years before anyone is even interested in them. The few people who are demanding this app are Premiere for Windows users who want to switch over to Macs.

    > Adobe’s new audio app, Soundbooth, also ignores PPC macs.

    There is no market on the Mac for this app right now. Soundbooth is where InDesign was many years ago … they are going to give it away as part of the suite to try to get you to stop buying something else. There is no PowerPC audio software that Soundbooth can compete with, so it is not trying. In a couple of years it may be competitive on the Mac.

    Silverlight is different because we’re talking about the decoder ring part of an infotainment platform.

  18. Don’t forget TESTING (and support) !

    The coding is usually about half the picture in this stuff. By not having to test on PPC Macs the amount of work goes down considerably, in both the testing and coding phase. Fewer machines to support also means less bug fixing. Going Intel Mac only means FAR fewer supported platforms.

    There is also the case that some very low level (machine code) stuff may be cross platform on the Intel Macs, but would require a considerable undertaking to port.

    Also how long do you think Apple will continue to support the PPC Macs???

    I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but in this case I think they want their platform adopted, so I think deep down they would have liked to support PPC macs. But for my reasons and those mentioned above it probably didn’t make much business sense.

  19. For those of you arguing the “it makes business sense” side of the argument, I have a simple question for you: if it was Adobe announcing that we stopped supporting Flash Player on PPC Macs right now, would you feel the same way? If not, why not? Is it just because they have no installed base?

    From my side, I know the screaming from those millions of users would be quite loud. Heck, we regularly get complaints from people because we don’t support PPC Linux, never mind PPC Mac OS X…

    (Disclaimer: Adobe could very well stop supporting PPC Macs someday. I have no idea if or when such a thing might happen, but I suspect it won’t be for quite some time.)

  20. […] Silverlight 1.1: No Love for PPC Macs John Lam of Microsoft has written a nice blog post called “Clearing the air about Silverlight and the DLR”. […] […]

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