Isn't there a way to stream Silverlight-based videos on a non-Intel Mac? Why not?
February 20, 2010 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Is there a workaround for PPC Macs and Microsoft Silverlight? If not, why not?

I'm so baffled by this issue. I have a non-Intel PPC Mac running OSX 10.4.11. Apparently Silverlight is needed to watch more and more videos online; however, version 2 doesn't run on PPC Macs. This means that the Netflix streaming movie feature is inaccessible, as are the videos at NBC's Olympics site. This doesn't make any sense to me. Is there any way to make it work, or is buying a new computer the only option?

In my experience, one great thing about the internet is that it generates multiple solutions to problems, and encourages smart people to get together to do things that seem impossible. If you want to watch .wmv on a Mac, download a program or purchase software to make it possible. If you want to make a PDF or do a document conversion, there are tons of websites that make it possible. So why isn't there any way to watch these videos on a PPC Mac? I have read this question and run a lot of searches, and it seems like no one is really talking about the fact that users have been cut out off from media in this way. What about Silverlight makes this worth it? Why isn't it an issue, i.e. how can huge companies like Netflix and NBC move to Silverlight without offering an alternative? Is it just that the people who would normally complain all have PCs or Intel Macs?
posted by ramenopres to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your PPC Mac represents an insignificantly small fraction of the market. Netflix and NBC don't care about you. For the same reasons, the open-source community that makes these things happen has moved on to Intel architecture and they're also not very interested in working with retro hardware.

Them's the breaks. I use primarily Linux and I can't watch them either (Moonlight apparently isn't up to the task yet).

As for why they would go with Silverlight over Flash, it may have to do with Flash's terrible performance. I also have a Windows 7 netbook (Atom n270 processor), and it can stream Netflix fullscreen to a 720p TV flawlessly. Flash is unable to do this at more than about 3 frames per second. HTML5 may be an option in the future, but it's not widely adopted yet.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:51 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is it just that the people who would normally complain all have PCs or Intel Macs?


The last PowerPC Mac was discontinued over three years ago. There will never be a new one. There are not enough remaining users to make porting the software worthwhile, even if you could still get modern PowerPC development tools for the Mac - which you can't.
posted by Mwongozi at 12:00 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is it just that the people who would normally complain all have PCs or Intel Macs?

Yes. PPC Macs haven't been commercially available in a few years, and the general perception of Mac users is that they've got enough resources to be able to afford a new computer once every couple of years. Heck, Snow Leopard wasn't even released for PPC Macs - if Apple isn't supporting PPC anymore, why should anyone else?
posted by crinklebat at 12:01 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pretty much, nope. You're screwed. It sucks, and I'm sorry.

Silverlight offers what open source can't: DRM protection. Content creators (like movie studios) aren't thrilled with the idea of their videos going out into the world naked and un-DRMed. Silverlight and Microsoft offer that. It's likely that with native video support in HTML5 (a year or two away) will conquer Silverlight for most everything else. But, that doesn't help you out much right now.
posted by fontophilic at 12:03 PM on February 20, 2010

Not to add to your troubles, but the number of applications that support 10.4 is dwindling. Firefox for example is dropping support for the 10.4 . Even Apple is no longer producing updates for it - although Apple has been characteristically mum on this topic - they usually only provide patches for their latest and second latest OSes.

To answer your second question - it costs money and developer time to develop and test these applications on all or most platfoms. So, NBC and Netflix and so on have to pick and choose who they will develop for. The fact that your operating system is considered deprecated is going to influence that decision as well - You'll notice there is no support for Windows 98 or OS/2 or BeOS either.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:26 PM on February 20, 2010

NBC Olympics require the latest Silverlight which will only run on Intel Macs.
posted by Gungho at 12:45 PM on February 20, 2010

How about this: why does the NBC Olympics Silverlight stream suck on my new (late '09) Mac Mini? The sound is all choppy, whether it's Safari, Firefox or Chrome, whether it's my built-in sound card or my external one (Presonus Firebox). And the video ain't quite up to snuff either.
posted by ism at 2:39 PM on February 20, 2010

If you have a late-model g4 powerbook or g5 PowerMac, there's still some latent value left there. Your best bet would be to sell on ebay for a few hundred and count it as a downpayment towards a new machine.
posted by Oktober at 2:40 PM on February 20, 2010

PPC Macs use chips that Microsoft has never typically developed software for, whereas they have quite a lot of experience with Intel chips.

It's frustrating to own a PPC chip model during this time where the transition has passed and precious little is developed anymore for them. However, since Intel chips have now been in Macs a while, you could probably buy an older Intel chip machine for significantly less than buying something brand new. But the reality is, at some point, moving to an Intel machine will allow you to keep apace of current software and OSes.
posted by kuppajava at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2010

I'll just add that computers are getting so cheap that the hackers/hobbyists/developers/etc. who would be the ones that would build an open source version of Silverlight for PPC Macs have all bought new modern computers. At the same time PPC Macs aren't so old that there isn't some nostalgia factor into getting the modern software running on the old hardware. Lastly, Silverlight and the assorted things that it depends on are big, broad complicated things so it would be hard for a "lone wolf" developer to go off and produce a version of Silverlight for PPC Macs all by themselves.
posted by mmascolino at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2010

Try using Moonlight!
posted by mochilove at 2:32 PM on February 22, 2010

« Older Steam Cleaning   |   To Blog and More Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.