Holy mother of all video codecs, Batman! Microsoft announces Silverlight 3 will support h.264. It’s been a pretty good week for Microsoft on the hearts and minds front. First they role out Seinfeld as a pitchman (you had me at Shoe Circus Jerry). The ad was subtle, avoided the obvious Apple references, was utterly devoid of all normal hyperbole evident in recent campaigns (Surface “revolutionizes” the $10K multi-touch coffee table market), and most importantly no obnoxious “aero” translucency was anywhere to be seen (is it just me or is Aero the equivalent of clear plastic pumps).
However, it was the news that Silverlight 3 will support h.264 video and AAC audio that has me ready to sing Kumbaya, kiss the girls in Redmond or become an English soccer hooligan (lots of drinking and a sport I don’t have to pay much attention to…seems grand to me). Now in typical MS fashion they can’t seem to get out of their own way and appear to be pulling a Zoolander and taking credit for the codec’s development.
Self-aggrandizement aside, this is an absolutely huge move by Microsoft and one they should be lauded for. Sure they didn’t get there first (they actually won’t be there for quite some time) and the Flash Player team’s aggressive moves forced their hand, but the end result helps content creators and the industry as a whole out. It’s a move away from vendor lock-in and toward customer empowerment. Microsoft has big plans for Silverlight. They want it to be embedded on a lot of platforms (mobile handsets, consumer electronics, etc.). They don’t have a dominant market position which means they need to leverage existing and future content repositories. It’s a hell of a lot easier to sell customers on RIA platform than it is to sell them on RIA platform + video format, especially when changing video format means re-encoding a large library. Well done Microsoft. Way to connect the dots and make customer needs come first.
Love the bold UI / workflow approach of Chrome. It also makes complete sense for Google to make a client service play as the gatekeeper to the world’s information, though I’m not without enormous reservations here (too much power and too much control if they ever become the dominant browser). I’m wondering how the web purists crowd will take a potential kill shot to the browser as a platform (next OS) movement from their heretofore champion?
The article is probably referring to the per tab unique memory space and Google may well intend to build a “platform” to push the OS into the background. However, the implied design considerations of the chromeless UI reflects the importance and commitment to targeted experiences and that’s where runtimes like AIR / WPF shine. Google’s got the resources to forgo the RAD platforms, but most of us don’t. Much is changing in the software / platform world, but it should now be pretty clear that the desktop’s not dead yet.
*Update* After glancing through my feed reader for the first time in about 48 hours, I have to apologize for this post. Maybe I need to take some time away from the blogosphere because I’m starting to sound like all the other blowhards out there. ;-(
*Update* Rands may have taken the cake with his Chrome analysis.
Steve Yegge lambasts business requirements as heaping piles of, well, shit. It’s an evocative rant with a few pearls and paradoxes. Definitely worth a read if you’ve got the time. If not, but you want a peek inside my notebook, here’s a jingstream of what I found interesting.
Somehow we’ve lost sight of the fact that we’re more alike than different. Our basic knowledge of self is core to our understanding of others. Humans wouldn’t be so adept socially if we were so inept at understanding others. It’s this very adeptness that’s allowed us to survive and thrive for eons. The puzzler is why does the usability / user experience field often lead us away from the tools for the job we we are actually equipped with?
If you’ve got the time to kill on a video, this preso from Adaptive Path touches on the topic a bit as well (starts around at the 15 minute mark)
So far (one year later) I’m pretty non-plussed with Adobe Media Player. It reminds me too much of Real / WMP which means I must not be the target market, or I’m just old and cranky. The source of much of my irritation has been that it launches at startup and I don’t remember giving it permission to. Regardless, every time I reboot (admittedly infrequent on OS X) I’m confronted with a slow starting app (AMP) and I can’t figure out where startup preferences are that would stop this.
Just today, I decided to again nose around in the “options” and discovered that launch at startup is actually tucked away under a category called “Automatic Notifications”.
Whether in the iPhone, RIAs, or new age desktop apps, motion patterns are all the rage. I dig this and I’m a big advocate for pushing the boundaries of usability and user / brand experience, but at the end of the day some of AMP’s animations don’t add much value for me and end up feeling gratuitous. This contributes to a sense of bloat and “fakeness” in the app which is also part of the “brand experience” that’s often not accounted for.
There’s lots to like it in AMP (rss playlists, file system playback of flv, etc.), but there’s also a disturbing sense of bloat (it sometimes feels like a big advert to me), a slick, but gratuitous, ui which reinforces emotional unease and an overall lack of concern for user control (launch at boot up). Add it all up and it makes me feel like AMP is just more of the same in the media player market.