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Marketing killed my darling (Amiga, Halo 3, Silverlight) 

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 11:00:00 AM

This time my comment is how bad marketing can kill a wonderful product.

First on the line was Commodore Amiga - back when PC users was using text based DOS, some of us had a complete graphical OS, which was probably hugely inspired by Unix in some of its core operations. If it had been more promoted for serious use, it could have killed the first Windows OS as being so far behind... But Amiga was not promoted very much, and after years of lack of marketing it died silently.

Then there was IBM who made a system to replace the old ISA cards, that could have given us much faster computers years ago - but they sat on the patent, probably thinking they could earn lots of money on the technology, and other companies with slower but cheaper products won the day.

A lot later there was Halo 2 - I loved the first one so even though Halo 2 required that I upgraded to Windows Vista, I happily did it just so I could buy and play that game! Ouch, that one was regretted later when trying to play other older games... But what a marketing trick that was - if you want to play you need to upgrade! Now I find that Halo 3 is only for XBox, and this time I am tired of such marketings stunts - maybe Microsoft thinks they got a game so great that they can use it to sell XBox machines, but I don't see the reason why I should buy a second 'computer' with no keyboard and that is probably slower than my real computer, just so I can play a game.

(Oh, how many PCs got I around me right now... 3... well then an XBox would be computer number 4, and not the second - no I will reserve that space for something else).

And the last in this chain of what I feel like bad marketing experiences is unfortunately again due to Microsoft. Now I have been writing windows programs for ages, and I am definetly a "Microsoft kind of guy", so of course I started studying Silverlight when it came out. And I really thought it could be a great platform, that would make writing fancy animations much easier - by having a similar platform and C# language working for both Windows programs, websites on the server side and Silverlight on the client side...

And I was all ready to suggest using it for a major project, but I just had to do one test: If a guy without Internet Explorer was browsing the net, and he came to a website with Silverlight, what would be his experience? Other people told me Silverlight was cross platform and works in most browsers, but was it true?

Well, Silverlight was able to work with many browsers, but if you did not already have it installed on your computer, then clicking on the "install" link would give you a page from Microsoft saying that your browser was probably not compatible! The real link to install Silverlight could still be found lower on the page, but do you think anybody will try if they are told that it will probably not work!?

If you anyway dared to install Silverlight, then you could see the Silverlight showcase website, but if you went to Microsoft's home page, do you think you saw Silverlight working there? No! You got a message saying that you should upgrade to the newest version of Internet Explorer before you can see it!

In short: The guys behind the Silverlight program have done a fair job of making it cross planform/browser, but it feels like Microsoft sees it as more important to promote their own browser - more important than setting a truely workable standard.

The result: Silverlight was rejected for my project, and instead I spent two weeks learning Flash and ActionScript programming!


Ok, actually, the above happened more than a year ago, and the result of my two weeks study of Flash is what you see on the front page of the website (the graphics/video was of course done by a professional: Horst Dubiel).

And while I hope that Microsoft will wake up and change it's marketing strategy (meaning: making Silverlight really cross platform, including smooth installation experience for anybody no matter what browser or OS combination they got), currently I expect Silverlight to end the same place as IBM's replacement for ISA cards that I cannot even remember the name of anymore...

Maybe it already changed during the last year?

Anyway, the technology & design process behind Silverlight will live on in desktop applications and probably also in special devices like touch-walls and phones, so I'll use what I studied even if I never uses Silverlight for websites (that was after all the original brilliant plan: that the same programming & design model would work for everything).

Allan K. Nielsen, Kindbergs Program Udvikling
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