By Emil Protalinski | Published: December 22, 2008 – 02:53PM CT
With the release of Silverlight 2 in October, Microsoft added official support for the newly released Google Chrome, in addition to IE, Firefox, and Safari support. Support for Opera, and other browsers with little market share, was nowhere to be seen. On his blog, Joe Stegman, a group program manager on the Silverlight presentation and graphics team, has given details as to why not all browsers receive official Silverlight support:
There are a couple of factors that contribute to Silverlight adding new officially supported browsers/platforms: new version/update to an officially supported browser, expected or measured up-tick in a browser’s penetration (here’s one site that measures share but this data varies on region and by polling method) or, as described above, based on customer demand when balanced against other requested features.
Even browsers that are not "officially supported," should generally work with Silverlight, if they support either the Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI) or ActiveX plug-ins. Unfortunately, browsers don't provide perfect implementations of these plug-ins, and therefore Silverlight generally needs to work around these inconsistencies or bugs in order to provide the same experience across browsers. The Silverlight product team has to trade off the cost of supporting new browsers with the cost of supporting new product features; each supported browser has a slight impact on how long it takes to release the product. Nevertheless, Microsoft still does some level of testing on the most popular non-supported browsers.
Returning to Opera specifically, Microsoft has found that its Flash alternative works relatively well in the browser, except when hosting Silverlight in Opera via the MS AJAX Silverlight control. The Silverlight control will correctly instantiate in Opera, but the content will not load and a blank page will appear instead. The Opera team has been informed of the problem, and if Opera and Microsoft end up working together to fix the problem, Silverlight may gain yet another supporter.