R – How to improve the much-to-be-desired Silverlight installation experience

silverlight-2.0

I wanted to get a sense of the average user experience of having to install Silverlight in order to use the Silverlight applications I've been making.

I fired up a virtual machine with clean browsers and pretended to "be my Dad" just wanting to check out the website and then being confronted with the "you must install Silverlight" button. I wrote down all the steps for Firefox and Internet Explorer below.

In general the Silverlight installation in both browsers is confusing, unsettling, and scary: because of the numerous security warnings and lack of options other than to abort installation, you unfortunately get the false impression that Silverlight is a Trojan horse of sorts that "could infect and harm your computer with viruses and malicious code" with no apparent options to protect your computer other than agreeing to install it and hope for the best.

In addition, I found the fact that you have to download a file, then go find it, then execute it, is a step that many people in my family (the generation above me) is going to find frustrating and will likely be a reason why they never get Silverlight installed on their machine.

Questions:

  • is there way, as a programmer, that I can make this experience better?
  • is Silverlight going to be shipped with future versions of browsers?
  • is a one-click, one-security-message install of Flash, Silverlight and other third party browser addons in our future or is this the best user experience we can hope for:

Silverlight installation experience in FIREFOX 3:

  • see: the graphic button to "Install Microsoft Silverlight" (which I put in my object tag)
  • click the button
  • see: "you have chosen to install Silverlight 2.0" [save file] [cancel]
  • click [save file]
  • click [save]
  • (sit there wondering what happened)
  • …eventually ask someone what to do or get lucky and right click download message and choose "open"
  • see: "silverlight 2.0.exe" is an executable file…may contain viruses…malicious code…harm your computer…use caution…are you sure?… [OK] [Cancel]
  • in spite of the fear that I am infecting my computer with "viruses and malicious code", I click [OK]
  • see: "Security warning…may potentionally harm your computer…" [Run] [Cancel]
  • fearfully click "Run"
  • says: "extracting files…Install Silverlight 2" one button: [Install Now]
  • click [Install Now]
  • says: "Silverlight is being installed on your computer", then shows checkbox "enable microsoft update (recommended) … privacy statement…" [Next]
  • click [Next]
  • says: "Installation Successful, you may have to refresh the web page…" [Close]
  • click [Close]
  • go back to web page and click the refresh button on browser
  • I see the silverlight application, success.

Silverlight installation experience in INTERNET EXPLORER 6:

  • see: the graphic button to "Install Microsoft Silverlight" (which I put in my object tag)
  • click the button
  • see: "To help protect your security…blocked this site from downloading files to your computer" and "did you notice the information bar" [OK]
  • click [OK]
  • (sit there wondering what to do)
  • finally click the bar on top, see "what's the risk?" click "download file" anyway
  • see: "Security warning…may potentionally harm your computer…" [Run] [Cancel]
  • click [Run]
  • watch it download, 15 seconds
  • see: "Security warning…can potentially harm your computer" [Run] [Don't Run]
  • click [Run]
  • says "Install Silverlight 2" one button: [Install Now]
  • click [Install Now]
  • says: "Silverlight is being installed on your computer", then shows checkbox "enable microsoft update (recommended) … privacy statement…" [Next]
  • click [Next]
  • says: "Installation Successful, you may have to refresh the web page…" [Close]
  • click [Close]

Best Solution

When i first started my Silverlight experience, i've found very interesting and useful watching this video about "Silverlight Install Experience". It gives you some suggestions on how to improve it and avoid some of the pain.