Chalk this one up as potentially the worst web decision that I have seen from a company… Ever. I have bitched and complained about some of the decisions that companies like Google have made (ie. reducing the feature set of Google Reader), but really how much can you complain when using a free service.

Well Questrade is a company that I am a real paying customer of, and due to their disastrous decision I have to cancel my account with them. Questrade for those that don’t know is an online discount stock brokerage.

They recently announced a new upgraded (and much needed) online trading platform called IQ. I signed up to be transitioned to this new platform and received the email yesterday saying that I would have access to it on Monday. While reading more of the details, I realized that this actually would be the end of my relationship with Questrade.

The key section of the email stated:

First, make sure you have Microsoft Silverlight (the technology that powers IQ). If you don’t have it yet, download it here and follow the installation instructions. Then, simply refresh your browser and you’re ready to trade.

This is a real problem for me, as the chair that I sit on a 9-5 Monday-Friday basis does NOT have access to the Silverlight plugin. At my desk with me, I have a Linux based PC and an Apple iPhone. There is a Silverlight plugin for Linux called Moonlight, but I have never had it successfully load a Silverlight app. No mobile device (Android/iOS/Windows Mobile) can run Silverlight apps.

So I read further in the email…

If you can’t download Silverlight, use IQ Edge.

This sounds promising… Stripped down HTML version of the trading platform? Nope its a Windows executable, still not a cross platform solution.

So this application that they have created runs only on Windows and OS X web browsers. Did Questrade miss the last 5 years, and the web dominance of the Android and iOS platforms as web devices?

Maybe they forgot to talk to Microsoft, and the impending doom of Silverlight as a platform:

Plug-ins were important early on in the web’s history. But the web has come a long way since then with HTML5. Providing compatibility with legacy plug-in technologies would detract from, rather than improve, the consumer experience of browsing in the Metro style UI.

-Dean Hachamovitch – the Microsoft executive who leads the Internet Explorer team

A quick browse of the web yields that Silverlight may in fact be sunset, with Silverlight 5 being the final version:

Microsoft is poised to release to manufacturing Silverlight 5. There’s word from some of my contacts that this might be the last major release of Silverlight, but Microsoft isn’t confirming or denying.;content

Questrade also told me in this email that my existing trading platform would be unavailable today at 4pm. I phoned and cancelled the transition, which apparently will only buy me a month of time. They plan to close all of their other trading platforms and only support the Windows only (OK it also runs very poorly on OS X) IQ trading platform as of May 14th 2012.

So I have a few options. I can get IT at my company to create me a Windows VM so that I can run Silverlight I would feel mildly bad wasting company resources due to my association with such a short-sighted company as Questrade, or search for a new online brokerage house that understands the web, and the fact that not all web browsers run on Windows PCs.

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