Why does Flip4Mac need Silverlight?


Silverlight isn't even silver

Whenever I use software installation wizards I always choose the custom option to make sure it’s not installing anything I don’t want (package managers with custom flags are so much easier)! It was a good thing too, because when I installed Flip4Mac this afternoon it was going to install Microsoft Silverlight. Say what?

Silverlight may have been of interest to me when I was a .NET developer in my high school years, but thesedays I have absolutely no use for it whatsoever and I’d prefer not to have yet another plugin and API that could be used as a vector for exploitation. Plus, I’m a purist and I like having as little software on my computers as possible.

As a kid I spelt it as "Trogan Horse" #confessions

A Trojan Horse [in computer science] is a malicious application masquerading as, or hiding within, an application an end user wants; in other words it takes advantage of the user thinking it’s something else to get itself installed without their knowledge.

Silverlight installing itself with Flip4Mac

I’m not suggesting Microsoft, Flip4Mac or any other vendor that does this is in the same league as black hat hackers who use Trojan Horses to monitor for credit card details, how many comments you’ve posted to Rubenerd.com, what heat settings you have your oven on while you’re making grilled cheese sandwiches, but it still doesn’t come across as very honest.

End users have enough trouble maintaining secure systems without more software being installed they either didn’t ask for or didn’t want. If I hadn’t selected a custom install for Flip4Mac and Silverlight installed itself, I wouldn’t know it was there so I wouldn’t attempt to keep it current with patches. On the flipside, if it attempted to keep itself current itself, I’d be bombarded with even more "update available" alerts of which I get enough already.

"This is the post that never ends…" oh, wait

I guess I’d end this rant by asking what I think to be a simple question: why would an application designed to let Mac people watch Windows Media Video need Silverlight in the first place? It never needed it in the past.

I registered and paid money for a licence for Flip4Mac because I reckon it’s a fantastic piece of software, but such experiences leave a bad taste in my mouth. And besides, the Silverlight logo isn’t even silver which makes even less sense.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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