Home Microsoft Silverlight to be Installed on Millions of HP Computers

Microsoft Silverlight to be Installed on Millions of HP Computers

Microsoft announced this morning that HP computers will soon be shipped with Live.com as their default search engine. The big news, though, isn’t that Live’s hit-it-with-a-stick ugly search results will be placed in front of millions of eyes. The most important part of the announcement is that the search toolbar will be powered by Silverlight, Microsoft’s product that competes with the nearly ubiquitous Flash from Adobe. The competition could be great for consumers.

Many people who have never changed their default search engine will discover how easy it is to do after a few days of using Live instead of Google. As Emil Protalinski writes at Ars Technica, though, going to the trouble of uninstalling Silverlight is something almost no one is likely to do.

Market Adoption so Far

Microsoft is working hard to spread Silverlight. It’s cut deals with NBC for their online Olympic coverage, with Major League Baseball, and with Nokia. Oprah uses Silverlight. You, dear reader, will have Silverlight on your computer soon if you don’t already.

Silverlight works closely now with .NET, it’s available for Macs and Linux as well as Windows machines and mobile phones. Now Silverlight will see millions of default installs, an even better motivator than requiring a download to watch the Olympics online. Despite Microsoft’s efforts, Silverlight adoption is probably minimal so far though it launched a year ago. That could change relatively quickly, though.

The Impact of the HP Deal

“In the first quarter of 2008,” writes power blogger Larry Dignan at ZDNet, “HP shipped about 3.9 million PCs to the U.S. and Canada. So let’s project an even 4 million a quarter for simplicity’s sake for 16 million PC units from HP in 2008 in the U.S. In 2009, we’ll throw out 18 million PCs as a guesstimate for U.S. shipments.”

That’s another good chunk taken out of the lead Adobe has with Flash. Adobe claims that 98% of US web users have Adobe Flash installed. Update: Adobe’s John Dowdell drops by in comments below to say we are insane and point out that Flash 9 installs are still going at a pace that makes HP computer sales look like nothing. Point taken and perspective revised. While the new Acrobat release will likely spread adoption of similarly competitive product Adobe AIR in a similar fashion, this HP deal is big for Silverlight.

We’re hearing reports that Silverlight is being offered as an optional download in the latest Windows update, too. Should HP owners feel offended?


Today a substantial preponderance of the most creative people working in visual content online work in Flash. Deals like today’s are likely to change that in the near future. To its credit, some people say that Silverlight has a much bigger vision than Flash, Flex and AIR and thus isn’t really competing with Adobe. That’s hard to believe though.

For a more skeptical perspective on the whole field of Rich Internet Applications, see Stephen O’Grady’s very good RIA Q&A.

Despite arguments otherwise, we believe that cross-platform mixed online/offline development environments with appealing user experiences have a whole lot of potential. The rise of Silverlight is important to keep a fire under Adobe at the very least, and it is likely to offer some very compelling applications of its own in the near term future.

For an in depth look at Silverlight compared to Adobe’s products, check out the this podcast , wherein Colin Birch spoke to Pete Barr-Watson and Jon Harris of Microsoft, and Mike Downey from Adobe.

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