Moonlight 2.0: Microsoft and Novell Loosen Agreement

Dec 21, 2009

In close collaboration with Microsoft, a Novell team behind developer Miguel de Icaza has released version 2.0 of its Silverlight clone Moonlight.

Silverlight is Microsoft's attempt to embed modern content such as videos and animation in the Web. It's often viewed as a direct competitor to Flash. Because the Silverlight .NET application runs on Windows only, Mono developer Miguel de Icaza's team at Novell has been working on a corresponding open source version called Moonlight.

The current Moonlight 2.0 release is technically in a status somewhere between Silverlight 2.0 and 3.0 and depends on the recently released Mono, Cairo and Gtk+. The development is prioritized on the most desired features, among them transmission of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the Microsoft Photosynth tool.

Like Mono, Moonlight development isn't without controversy, considering that Microsoft owns a number of its software patents. As a rule Microsoft's proprietary WMA and WMV video and audio formats also apply (the tool installs the corresponding codecs from the Internet). Novell therefore sealed an agreement with Microsoft from the start whereby Microsoft agreed not to hold claim against users of the Novell implementation. The two firms have now renewed and expanded the agreement. Users of other Linux and BSD distros can now use Moonlight and distributors can deliver Moonlight packages without the risk of being sued over patent infringement.

The catch is that only the Novell version will have access to licensed media codecs so that other distros will have to forego automatic codec support. A few options are available, but the matter is still based on the agreement being between Microsoft and Novell only.

The current Moonlight runs on Firefox browsers, but work is underway on a corresponding implementation for Chrome on Linux, according to de Icaza in his blog.

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