Microsoft's attitude towards the future of Silverlight and what it seems to see as an alternative, HTML5, is growing ever clearer since it was first raised in a series of tweets from Scot Barnes - despite the fact that the company seems to want to avoid talking about it. Indeed mention of the future of Silverlight was noticeably absent from this year's PDC. Last year Silverlight was the main talking point; this year HTML5 was mentioned at every opportunity.
Mary Jo Foley writing at ZDNet had something of a scoop to report when she asked Bob Muglia, the Microsoft President in charge of the company’s server and tools business, about the future of Silverlight:
“Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone”
"Silverlight also has some “sweet spots” in media and line-of-business applications"
And on Silverlight's role as a cross-platform environment:
“our strategy has shifted".
"Silverlight will continue to be a cross-platform solution, working on a variety of operating system/browser platforms, going forward."
“But HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform,”
It is also reported that he offered assurance that Silverlight 5 would see the light of day.
Of course the irony of all of this is that Silverlight is heavily used on the PDC site to present sessions to the world. It clearly takes time to turn a mega ship to a new direction.
Although nothing is certain the most likely scenario for the future of Silverlight is that it will be presented as the programming environment for Windows Phone 7. For the web we will have HTML5 and on the desktop who knows...
And where are the development tools? You can argue that open standards are better and that Silverlight never really got a hold on the web, but if you are looking for a powerful easy to use general purpose web application development environment it is still difficult to beat.
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