Chromebook: Yes to Flash, No for Silverlight and Java

An interesting point about Chromebook is this bit from their support FAQ:

Will Chromebooks support Flash, Java, Silverlight, and other plug-ins we need for some of our internal applications?

Chromebooks have Flash support built-in, but they do not support Java or Silverlight.

I don’t think the support for Flash is any indication that Google has some affinity for Adobe. It’s simply that the lack of Flash support in Apple products makes the presence of Flash in Google’s products major marketing advantage. Plus Flash is VERY common on the web, and a lot of people would never consider any real system that doesn’t have flash (yet).

But the lack of Java might be a different story. Oracle recently sued Google over the use of Java technologies in Android. Yes, that’s exactly what Sun did back when MS was doing well… notice a trend? Java is not “open” in any meaningful way, and it never has been. The lack of Java in Chromebook could be political as much as technological, or they could just be avoiding the suit that Oracle/Sun will file (they probably will file a suit of some sort anyway since that’s about all the company does these days).

The lack of Java support isn’t much of a drawback for end users since few public sites use Java in the browser these days anyway, but the lack could be an issue for enterprises that have internal web systems that do use Java in the browser. 

With Silverlight, I can’t blame Google for not including a plug-in for it. Microsoft has done a piss-poor job of getting Silverlight onto Linux anyway. Since the OS for Chromebook is Linux under the hood, Google would have found it hard to support it unless Microsoft were to built the plug-in themselves. Strategically though Google’s obviously gunning for Microsoft’s core market (corporate windows and office licenses) so they also have a political reason not to support Silverlight even if MS were willing to write the necessary plug-ins. Silverlight hasn’t gotten enough public adoption, so most users would not notice the lack of Silverlight support, but if Chromebooks do see widespread adoption, that lack could be a serious blow to Silverlight’s growth potential going forward; though I do suspect that MS has already killed Silverlight as a cross-platform client platform anyway.

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