The end of Silverlight?

Someone recently pointed me to an article about PDC 10 and the lack of Silverlight.  I have followed Mary Jo Foley who follows everything that goes on within Microsoft and respect her work.

Here is my take on it…

Silverlight doesn’t have anything to say yet. The focus has been on Windows Phone and Azure. I would say the Azure discussion was over 50% of the keynote. Micrososft has been silent about technologies in big conferences before, only later to announce something big at another conference.

IE has been a problem for developers for some time because of their history of not developing to web standards. Microsoft is trying to get on their good side by showing that the browser is keeping up to date with web standards, and right now, that’s HTML 5.

There is also a big rift within Microsoft over HTML 5 and Silverlight. IE is developed by the Windows OS group, so their focus is on the OS elements and its interaction with the world. Bob Muglia is in charge of the Windows OS group, so it is natural for him to push IE 9 and HTML 5. Silverlight is a product of the Developer Division, that has different goals.

I was surprised that Scott Guthrie had a very small part in the keynote, since he is the head of the Developer Division and this was a developers conference (I’m not sure if he reports to Bob Muglia). I’m sure the responses from Scott Guthrie would be different than Bob’s.

Azure is going through a big change right now.  During the demo of the keynote, it was mentioned that the Azure portal was re-written with Silverlight.  It appears the portal website is just a Silverlight app.  If Microsoft was only going to use Silverlight for the phone, why would they develop the Azure portal in Silverlight?

Personally, I don’t see Silverlight going away anytime soon. Silverlight will always be ahead of HTML 5 in features and functionality (as will Flash). HTML 5 is just trying to catch up to Flash and Silverlight.  Regardless, everything we develop today has to support a browser that is at least a few years old.  As developers, we constantly have to worry about what version of Firefox or IE the client is using and then develop our application around it.  Until everyone is on IE 9 (or any HTML 5 browser) we will still need to develop this way.

If Steve Ballmer made similar statements, I think my viewpoint would be different.

About: Mike