A story for Halloween: Is Silverlight a Zombie?

29 October 2010

This morning, Mary Jo Foley  of ZDNet, published an article called Microsoft: Our strategy with Silverlight has shifted, in which she describes the fact that Silverlight has been all but missing from the current PDC2010, and then proceeds to quote Bob Muglia (president of server and tools):

Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone,” he said. Silverlight also has some “sweet spots” in media and line-of-business applications, he said.

But when it comes to touting Silverlight as Microsoft’s vehicle for delivering a cross-platform runtime, “our strategy has shifted,” Muglia told me.

Silverlight will continue to be a cross-platform solution, working on a variety of operating system/browser platforms, going forward, he said. “But HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform,” Muglia said.

This is exactly the same story that came out about six weeks ago from Scott Barnes, a former Silverlight PM at Microsoft, after he presumably had some private chats with people he knew. The main conclusion from his blog post was that Silverlight is being pushed aside for web technologies in favor of HTML5 with IE9 driving it all. Oh, and that WPF is dead.

The thing for me is that WPF and Silverlight were two of the future tracks for .NET (the third being ASP.NET MVC). Failure of either or both (I’m still uncertain as to how important Windows Phone 7 is going to be, especially as the launch seemed to be a bit of a washout), will mean that .NET’s future will be tied to ASP.NET MVC and — you guessed it — HTML5. (I’m especially struck by Anders Hejlsberg’s presentation yesterday at PDC10 on async programming in C# 5; very oriented to the web, I’d say.) And given the importance of web programming for mobile devices versus native apps — especially for so-called business apps rather than gaming — it’s looking like Silverlight is turning into a zombie.

So, what do you think?

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