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My review of Microsoft Silverlight and its services

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Operating System: Windows XP Pro SP2

Browser: Firefox

Main Review


Microsoft's Silverlight is a platform that is supposedly a competitor to Flash. I decided to try it out. Microsoft's Silverlight supports Windows and OS X and browsers IE 6/7, Firefox 1.5/2, and Safari of course. Full system requirements can be viewed here. Silverlight can easily be downloaded and installed through a petite 1.44MB executable file from the Microsoft site here. Installation was nice and easy, a 2 second install, which after it tells you to restart your browser and Silverlight gets to work. There are still not that many services that use the Silverlight platform but I picked out two: the Halo 3 Online Game Guide and the visually appealing tafiti search engine.


The first system I reviewed was the Halo 3 Online Game Guide. To be honest, it wasn't too impressive over Flash. There were animated menus and interesting loading screens but there was nothing there that couldn't have been done easier with Flash. I'd say that a better job could have been done using flash. So, the Halo 3 game guide is nothing out of the ordinary. However, the tafiti search engine was a completely different case and I'm utterly impressed with it. I would definitely use it as an alternative to Google once it comes out of the beta stages.


Tafiti can be easily accessed by going to www.tafiti.com. Tafiti is powered by Microsoft Silverlight and Windows Live Search. As you can see, the new Tafiti has a big emphasis on Halo, with Halo backgrounds and even a seperate Halo search category. To start searching, you enter your search query into the search box and hit the Go button. Then tafiti sooms into action. The search box moves to the left of the screen and 5 rotating icons start spinning and moving underneath the search box and shortly, you have your search results. Search results are divided into 5 categories, as indicated by the 5 icons on the rotating tray (web, images, feeds, news, and...Halo). Click on an icon to see the results in that category.


You can save search results by dragging a result to the box panel on the left. Once you save a result, you can label it. If you click a saved result, an interesting window about the result (links, info) appears and you have options to blog or email the result. NOTE: To open results in tafiti you have to enable pop-ups for tafiti.com or disable your pop-uo blocker. Now, a sort of hidden interesting part of tafiti. Click on the "Click here for the original tafiti" link on the top right side of the page.


This brings up the original tafiti engine without the Halo stuff and to me, is easier on the eyes and looks somewhat better. This engine is the same as the new tafiti, except instead of the Halo category, there is a "Books" category which I think is much more useful. However, I can understand why they replaced Books with Halo. When you search for Books, nothing comes up even if you search for something obvious like "harry potter". So in other words, at this time Book search is useless.


One thing, pages and websites that use Silverlight take a CRAZY long time to load the first few times. tafiti took a good half a minute or maybe more to load and Microsoft's Silverlight home page took forever, I mean like 1 or 2 minutes. Also, a new news report states that MS is doing a redesign of microsoft.com, adding in Silverlight elements to increase its popularity. Full story here.


Well, that ends the worded review, and all in all I think someday it could grow up to become a major Flash competitor, keeping in mind that its this good in beta stages.


Pros and Cons


MS Silverlight Platform



  • Good animation and is quite smooth
  • Could easily become a Flash competitor once out of beta stages
  • Its fantastic for a beta service


  • Crazy long loading time for pages and sites that use Silverlight
  • Mouse scrolling doesn't work on pages

Halo 3 Online Game Guide



  • Nice animations, menus, and loading screens


  • Nothing that couldn't have been done better and easier with Flash
  • Long loading times for pages
  • Mouse scrolling doesn't work on pages

tafiti Search Engine



  • Great interface, easy to use
  • Fantastic animations and menus
  • Search results are pretty good for a service that uses Windows Live Search
  • Good user friendly features


  • Takes a crazy long time to load
  • Mouse scrolling doesn't work on pages

Overall Rating out of 5: :blink::):) . 5

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MS To Push Silverlight Via Redesigned Microsoft.com


"It looks like Microsoft is getting desperate about the dismal rates of Silverlight adoption by consumers and developers since its release earlier this year. According to NeoSmart Technologies, Microsoft is preparing a fully Silverlight-powered redesign of their website, doing away with most HTML pages entirely. With over 60 million unique users visiting Microsoft.com a month, Microsoft's last-ditch effort might be what it takes to breathe some life back into Silverlight. The article notes: 'At the moment, very few non-Microsoft-owned sites are using Silverlight at all; let alone for the entire UI.'"




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Oh OK, sorry didn't read the requirements right. So it supports PPC but it requires an 800MHz processor. Thats whack. Processor intensive stuff needs that much power. An animation platform requiring an 800MHz processor? Crazy...why don't the hire a developer that can actually write PPC...its not like they don't have enough money already :)


Another little thing I discovered, quote from The NeoSmart Files:


When Silverlight was first announced and PopFly, Microsoft's social network built to demonstrate and hopefully kickoff Silverlight, were simultaneously launched;


Well I just checked out "PopFly" and it really doesn't look to me like its using Silverlight. Nothing there really is animated.

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