Novell, Microsoft Readying Moonlight

A Novell official says the Linux-based version of Microsoft's Silverslight will be delivered in six months.

BOSTON—Novell will be delivering a Linux-based version of Microsoft's Silverlight cross-browser, rich Internet application technology within six months.

Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer platforms at Novell, said at the XML conference here Dec. 5 that his team wanted to ensure that Linux would not be a second-class citizen should Silverlight take off.

"If [Silverlight] becomes successful, we wanted to make sure we weren't left out," de Icaza said.

Silverlight is Microsoft's response to Adobe's Flash technology, which is essentially ubiquitous on desktops and devices.

"We don't consider ourselves competing with Flash; I like Flash," de Icaza said. "Maybe Microsoft and Adobe are fighting it out, but that's not our goal. Our goal is to not be a second-class citizen."

He also shed a little more light on the internal workings of the business agreement between Novell and Microsoft regarding the Linux version of Silverlight, known as "Moonlight." The two companies announced plans in September to work together on Moonlight.

De Icaza said that under its agreement with Microsoft, Novell's role is to deliver a 100 percent compatible Linux version of Silverlight in the Moonlight technology, which will support the major Linux distributions. Contractually, Novell has agreed to support the top three Linux distributions, but de Icaza said the company will go beyond that to support all major Linux distributions, as well as Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system.

Moreover, Microsoft has agreed to provide all media codecs required for Moonlight to run on Linux, as well as regression test suites and complete specifications.

"Somebody has to foot the bill for that, and Microsoft has agreed to pay for all the licensing fees for redistributing the codecs," de Icaza said, including paying to license the codecs that will be needed to run on the operating systems beyond the top three Linux distributions. In addition, de Icaza said Moonlight would support the Apple's technology.

Meanwhile, de Icaza said Moonlight 1.0, which is based on Silverlight 1.0, is expected to ship in six months. It will track Silverlight 1.0 and will not include Mono support. Mono is an open-source implementation of the .Net Framework sponsored by Novell.

Microsoft recently changed Silverlight 1.1 to Silverlight 2.0; following suit, Novell has done the same with Moonlight. Silverlight 2.0 is based on .Net, thus Moonlight 2.0 will feature Mono.

De Icaza indicated that he expects Silverlight 2.0 to ship around March 2008, around the time of Microsoft's Mix '08 conference. Moonlight 2.0 will then ship anywhere between six and 12 months after Silverlight 2.0.

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