At the start of the year the Silverlight Blog kicks off with a juicy article on ... ?. You might expect it to be about Silverlight, but in fact it is all about Windows 8 without any mention of Silverlight, except for some bad news.
Microsoft might not want to upset the Silverlight community too much by declaring it dead in the near future, but you get the general idea of what is going on from the emphasis being placed on the various competing technologies. Where are the articles saying how wonderful Silverlight 5 is and how we should all be using it? Even the Silverlight Blog can't seem to get up the enthusiasm to actually write about Silverlight.
The current article is titled "Windows 8 and the future of XAML" as if some how the future of XAML was something to do with the future of Silverlight. But that really is the point. Microsoft seems to be trying to put across the idea that because WinRT has an option to specify the UI using XAML everything is fine. You can take all of your XAML skills across to WinRT and this is just like continuing to support and be enthusiastic about Silverlight. As the introduction says:
"It’s my goal in this series to introduce you to what we know at this point about Windows 8 and how we as (XAML) developers will need to adapt to the new platform."
So it isn't addressed to Silverlight developers but XAML developers - but, of course, this is a Silverlight blog.
While it might be true that Silverlight programmers have had to be XAML programmers the two are not one and the same thing.
The article is quite good introduction to what WinRT is, but for the Silverlight programmer the key and fairly obvious fact is that this is all new. The way Tiles are used to present information and the entire application model is quite different to a browser application.
It has some similarities to Silverlight on WP7 but this only raises the equally obvious fact that if WinRT is for desktops and tablets then it must also be for the next version of Windows Phone. Even this Silverlight niche is under threat.
Towards the end of the article things get really much worse. The Metro version of IE is presented and to quote:
"This version however doesn’t support plug-ins, so it’s not possible to run Silverlight (or Flash) applications in this browse"
Silverlight is mentioned, but only to point out that it isn't welcome on WinRT/Metro, not even in the browser. There is a desktop version of the browser that does support Silverlight, but this is old technology. If WinRT is Windows for the tablet, then it seems likely that Silverlight apps will not be usable on most of these machines. Currently Microsoft has not made it clear if there is going to be a desktop environment for ARM-based tablets and who knows about the rest.
None of this is news - all of it has been open knowledge since Build. What is news is that programmers keen on knowing the latest about Silverlight are treated to a series on WinRT development.
How you feel about Metro depends a great deal on how much you have invested in it. Trying to tell Silverlight developers that everything is fine because WinRT uses XAML isn't really being honest as, while this stays the same, so much more changes.
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