Novell's Mono Project released version 1.0 of Moonlight today, an open-source platform that allows Linux users to view Microsoft Silverlight-based content and applications. Delivered as a Firefox extension, Moonlight comes alongside the release of the Microsoft Media Pack, a Firefox extension that gives Linux users access to Microsoft-endorsed media codecs. This opens up the door for Linux fans that want to play Silverlight-compatible media (like MP3, WMA, and WMV files). According to Novell, Moonlight should work with all major Linux distributions, including openSUSE, Fedora, Red Hat, and Ubuntu.
This isn't the first time Moonlight has seen the light of day, and you can thank the recent presidential election for that. Microsoft and Novell released an early version of Moonlight in time for the Silverlight-based Web stream of Barack Obama's inaguration. According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President Scott Guthrie , more than 50,000 Linux users used Moonlight to watch the festivities.
But don't expect every Web implementation of Silverlight to go quite as flawlessly. Computerworld's Steven Vaughan-Nichols has already tinkered around with the Linux implementation of Silverlight, and he found that not all Web sites treat the port as a true implementation of Silverlight. Sites like Netflix, for example, don't check the operating system to see that Silverlight is installed and ready to run. Rather, the site will compare your exact operating system and Web browser of choice against an approved list of clients. The various varities of Linux must not be on Netflix's approved list, for the site's Silverlight functionality doesn't work in Moonlight just yet.
While the move is a complimentary gesture for the Linux crowd, it remains to be seen just how much traction Microsoft will gain against Adobe's competing Air platform. When we last looked the numbers, Adobe Air had just pushed past an installation base of 100 million users. The company has also claimed that its Air platform is installed on 55 percent of computers worldwide--with an expected installation base of 80 percent within the next three months. Microsoft hasn't released actual numbers for Silverlight adoption yet, nor do we think they ever will. But if the stats from independent monitoring site Rich Internet Application Statistics are to be believed, it's a telling tale against Microsoft.
Of the 1,365,249 daily unique visits to 39 different sites over the past 30 days, here's how the breakdown of Air versus Silverlight adoption plays out: