As many of you will be aware, Microsoft’s PDC event this year occurred last week and with it came a comment from Bob Muglia that “our strategy has shifted” in relation to Silverlight. The impending release of IE9, Microsoft argues, makes HTML5 a viable option for “reach” applications based on the desktop Web browser, with Silverlight’s additional features making it the choice for more specialised scenarios such as Windows Phone 7, media-centric applications and line of business apps.
This comment has caused considerable concern in the Silverlight community. (Especially those who went into fainting fits at “Windows Phone 7″ and didn’t see that Bob Muglia went on to talk about all the other areas that Microsoft are still backing Silverlight for.) As usual with a new technology, Microsoft went into marketing overdrive with Silverlight and sold it as the solution to everything from Web development to stubborn stains. Which of course it never was. Silverlight was, and is, a great platform for certain kinds of application. If you’re building rich media apps, intranet applications or certain kinds of Internet application, then Silverlight is still in the sweet spot. But Microsoft are saying that for building Internet-facing, cross-platform Web sites with maximum reach, they’re shifting their backing to HTML5.
So what does this mean for Mindscape customers? It means the same great support and investment in Silverlight, and a continuing focus on the Silverlight sweet spots. As you’ll know, we’ve got a great suite of controls for Silverlight – we’re on the Silverlight bandwagon and have many customers delivering fantastic solutions with the help of our products. We are committed to improving our Silverlight Elements product and have a release planned shortly for a major new version that includes some of the best chart controls ever built for Silverlight. We will continue to support Silverlight Elements and to actively invest in it; in other words – it’s business as usual for us! :-)
Further to this investment, we are not ignoring Windows Phone 7. We have Windows Phone 7 hardware and our developers have been working on testing the capabilities of Silverlight on WP7. We will be releasing an update for our Silverlight controls that fully supports the Windows Phone 7 environment. This will go beyond just making sure the controls run, but making sure we ship with native themes to create an excellent experience for end users and developers alike.
In short, just as we’ve always done, we’re investing in Silverlight for the development of some rich web applications, Intranet applications and Windows Phone 7 development — exactly the areas where Microsoft recommends it.
What about HTML 5?
We’re not technology zealots. We know that every technology has its place: Silverlight, HTML 5, Flash, even ActiveX. (Well, okay, not ActiveX. But every other technology.) And we’ll always be working hard to deliver what our customers need to create the best solutions possible — using whatever technology is right for the job.
We think HTML 5 is pretty awesome — a huge step forward from what was possible in the previous generation of browsers. But the reality is that there’s going to be a big lag in adoption. (Let’s face it, it’s hard getting some people to move on from creaky old IE6.) Even ignoring consumer adoption, HTML 5 developer tooling doesn’t come close to what developers are used to on the Silverlight or .NET platforms.
Right now, we’re watching HTML 5, taking notes, kicking around ideas, planning and seeing what value we can add which would aid in the delivery of kick-ass solutions. We don’t have any news for you yet, but keep watching for announcements — HTML 5 is going to be big and we’re going to be there!