Silverlight: lead pony or stalking horse?

This article about Novell’s Moonlight project made me giggle (via Hack The Planet – hi Wes!). I was wondering just the other day about how Miguel de Icaza, a very smart and talented guy, ended up in a career spent developing one Microsoft-clone project after another. Evolution, Gnome, Mono, Moonlight. Just think what he could have done if he had tried to do something new.

~ by Andrew Shebanow on 20May08.

4 Responses to “Silverlight: lead pony or stalking horse?”

  1. With all due resect, that’s a rather foolish statement to make (wondering what Miguel could have done if he had tried to do something new).

    In the end, one would hope that he is doing the things that he believes in, and while you might not agree with the direction of his output, if he is doing what he believes in, then he is a better person than most. The value of his contribution can be debated all day, but as long as it is not a detriment, we should support him, and others in our field (programmers) to pursue and explore the things that we believe will contribute and shape the field we are so passionate about.

  2. No offense taken.

    I guess the question is whether the things he are doing really are “not a detriment” as you put it – the linked article certainly points out how something like Moonlight can be seen as a detriment, and the similar arguments can be made about earlier products.

    I think there is a valid contrast to be made between projects like Moonlight which ape Microsoft (who in turn were aping Macromedia/Adobe) and those like Firefox who are building better competitors.

    But that doesn’t mean I think Miguel is a bad person or that what he does has no value. Like I said, I like him a lot personally and have a lot of respect for his abilities. I just don’t understand why he chooses to spend his time chasing Microsoft’s tail.

  3. Hrmmm, not a huge fan of the condescension in this post. You may think Miguel’s wasted his time creating open source products and technologies that are interoperable with Microsoft’s — but really, are you qualified to judge how he’s spent his time? For most of the world you’re indistinguishable from the guy who has your analogous position at Microsoft.

    Also, remember that Miguel’s accomplishments reflect how much more open Microsoft is that Adobe. It’s only recently that Adobe’s seen the writing on the wall and opened some parts of Flash in a way that it’s even possible to consider doing this.

    “I just don’t understand why he chooses to spend his time chasing Microsoft’s tail.” Insert obligatory “better Microsoft’s tail than Adobe’s ass” joke here. 🙂 He probably wonders why you’d spend your time working on closed-source products.

    — Charles

  4. You are welcome to disagree with my opinion but there is really no need to turn it into a personal attack. For most of the world all software engineers are indistinguishable so its best not to get too big-headed about things. As I said previously, I have a lot of respect for Miguel.

    That said, I have to say that your allegations about adobe’s openness vis-a-vis Microsoft’s are sorely lacking in facts. To name just one example, the PDF format was open from day one back in 1993 so Adobe isn’t exactly a johnny-come-lately in the world of open standards. I could go on…

    I would agree, though, that Adobe is a relative newcomer to the world of open source. But we’ve contributed a lot more to that world than Microsoft has. Tamarin alone was a huge donation, which Frank Hecker called “the largest single code contribution to the project since Netscape originally released the Mozilla source code in 1998.” ( We’ve since open sourced Flex, fixed the Flash format licensing, turned control of PDF over to ISO, open sourced Tamarin Tracing, etc.

    Microsoft, meanwhile, has been destroying the open standards process by fighting dirty to get OOXML approved. None of their WPFE Flash-wannabe stuff is open source or even an openly defined standard. They did at least put IronPython and IronRuby out there, I’l give them that. Maybe they’re more open because they’ve invented so many of their own licensing programs? (

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