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Old Mar 4, 2011, 02:14 PM   #1
Makosuke
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Silverlight vs. Flash: MS outdoes Adobe

I haven't had much opportunity to use Silverlight since the Olympics, but I just had an amusing experience with it that I thought I'd mention.

Background: I am not a fan of Flash. I hated it LONG before Apple started their anti-Flash campaign, because it routinely pegged the processors on my MBP, ran dog-slow, crashed and brought Safari down with it, or all of the above. Installing ClickToFlash was the single biggest improvement in the day-to-day websurfing experience with my Mac that I have ever made.

Well, I should have known that there was only one company capable of out-doing Adobe when it came to harmful software, and it's all to perfect that it would be with the only competing technology for Flash (apart from HTML5, if that counts). Silverlight was in the running when I discovered during said Olympics that if you left a window with a Silverlight video in it minimized it would write a steady stream of errors to the console, and it completely filled the boot drive on my HT Mini overnight--the only time my Mini has EVER crashed when it wasn't running Windows in a VM.

Well, yesterday I discovered on Bing's maps, the aerial photos of my town are WAY better than Google's (Arcata, CA; Google's are almost entirely clouds over town, while the surrounding fields and forest are clear). I figured I'd check out Bing's streetview equivalent; no streetview of my town, so I switched to a city and browsed around.

After a couple of minutes, Safari starts beachballing. Then I realize that the entire computer--a brand-new 17" MBP with 4GB RAM and not that much open--has slowed to a crawl. Activity Monitor reveals why: Silverlight is using 1.3 Gigabytes of RAM. That's real, physical RAM, not virtual. And it apparently wanted more, because the system was busy paging everything it could to disk. It had also hung, and of course hung Safari with it, plus increased Safari's real memory allocation by about 100MB to boot.

The only plus to this is that killing the Silverlight plugin didn't bring Safari down too, since it's a separate process.

So congratulations, Microsoft: You've managed to bring a well-equpped four-core CPU to its knees with a simple web browser plugin.
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Old Mar 4, 2011, 07:09 PM   #2
Cboss
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I've actually found that Silverlight works much better than Flash, at least for video. I can watch the HD movies from Netflix (which uses Silverlight), but HD Flash videos are VERY choppy.
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Old Mar 5, 2011, 12:11 PM   #3
Melrose
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I was originally very against Silverlight - but to fair I am also against 99% of the common uses for Flash.

In the end, Silverlight is one of the recent examples of Microsoft really trying to get something right. Sure, it's not innovative by any means, but it solves some flaws in Flash, which took a huge nosedive after Macromedia was bought by Adobe.
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Old Mar 7, 2011, 03:01 AM   #4
Makosuke
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I suppose in Sliverlight's defense, if you're ONLY using it to stream DRM'd video, it does seem to work quite well--the Olympics stream last year was better than the Flash-based Hulu of right now, although that also works reasonably well.

But that doesn't excuse bugs that cause it to bring your computer down by dumping 50GB of crap in the log file, or trying to grab over a gigabyte of RAM while poking around a panorama.

My point isn't that Silverlight is a useless technology, just that it's got even more disastrous bugs than Flash, which is unstable and resource-intensive, but usually just crashes quietly. Well, that, and while I've heard of other apps going berserk with junk in the system logs, I have NEVER seen a program try to grab that much RAM due to a bug. Heck, apart from photo and movie editors, I've never personally had a program grab that much RAM, period.

Last edited by Makosuke; Mar 7, 2011 at 03:10 AM.
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