SkyDrive drops Silverlight
Written by Mike James   
Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Yet another Microsoft website has dropped Silverlight.
How can Microsoft expect independent developers to base their future on Silverlight when Microsoft itself is abandoning it like a sinking ship?

 

Microsoft's SkyDrive, a web service that provides cloud storage for end user files, has just acquired a revamped user interface - and it is HTML5 based. Yes, another Microsoft website has dropped Silverlight. How can Microsoft expect independent developers to base their future on Silverlight when Microsoft itself is abandoning it like a sinking ship?

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There has been much discussion of Microsoft's attitude towards .NET and some responses have focused on the lack of facts. Microsoft hasn't said that it is dumping either .NET or Silverlight. Of course anyone looking at the history of Microsoft will know that it rarely announces the death of a product until the nails have been hammered in and the coffin buried. In the meantime all you can do is to look at what it IS saying and what it IS doing.

What Microsoft is currently saying is that HTML5/JavaScript is going to be the way to create apps for Windows 8. At the same time it is removing Silverlight from its websites and implementing HTML5/JavaScript interfaces. Microsoft may not remove .NET, WPF or Silverlight from the platform you target - after all the VB6 runtime is still in there somewhere - but it can downplay it to the point where you are left unsupported, unloved and distinctly untrendy.

So what should Microsoft do?

After all HTML5/JavaScript does have one huge advantage over Silverlight - it doesn't need a plug in. However it does need an up-to-date browser and this too might be seen as a the same sort of negative effect. For example, the photo and video resizing on SkyDrive use CSS3 so if you don't have a browser that supports CSS3 you will have to upgrade - isn't downloading a plugin easier?

More to the point this isn't the way Microsoft does things - or is it did things. If Microsoft really wanted the world to adopt Silverlight what would it do? Answer provide Silverlight only websites that offered services that were unmissable. So if you want to use the free 25GBytes of storage and all the other impressive features of SkyDrive then you would have to download and use Silverlight. This is the way Microsoft has leveraged its new technology into use before - remember websites showing "best viewed with Internet Explorer"?

By making its technology desirable, Microsoft makes it ubiquitous.

By moving SkyDrive to HTM5 it perhaps increases the odds that SkyDrive is a success but it places another nail in the Silverlight coffin.

It was interesting that after the first batch of "Silverlight is dead" news items, which were swiftly followed by a Microsoft denial (see Silverlight is alive and well), the use of Silverlight to deliver video seemed to increase on Microsoft web sites. However, this has recently developed into a choice of viewing the video in HTML5 or Silverlight. Perhaps this dual technology approach would be a better way to go on sites such as SkyDrive.

After all if Silverlight really is so much better than HTML5, the Silverlight version of the site would have more features and be much easier to maintain. Whatever happened to "eating your own dog food"? It seems that now Microsoft would rather eat dog food made elsewhere....

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Sky Drive Website

Related articles:

Silverlight better than HTML5?

Dumping .NET - Microsoft's Madness

Silverlight is alive and well

Silverlight is dead, long live Silverlight?

Windows and .NET - the coming storm

WPF & Silverlight at risk from Microsoft's passion for HTML5


 

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