Microsoft has learned its lesson and, not wanting to alienate or spook its Silverlight developers yet again, has posted a carefully crafted blog post that explains its position vis-a-vis Sliverlight and HTML5.
Only a short time ago Microsoft upset a lot of developers by claiming that HTML5 was the way of the future, a fine sentiment, and that Silverlight was only for Windows Phone 7 - not such an OK thing to say. Lots of Silverlight developers were feeling a little worried that the technology that they had invested in might be about to be sidelined.
Now Microsoft has made the situation clearer in a joint blog post Standards-based web, plug-ins, and Silverlight. Notice that even the title of the post doesn't give away that it's about HTML5 v Silverlight - Microsoft is learning some tact and diplomacy!
Its main points are:
- For plug-in based experiences, we believe Silverlight delivers the richest set of capabilities available to developers today, making the choice of Microsoft technologies even more compelling.
- For Windows Phone development, Silverlight and XNA are the core fundamental building blocks for building rich experiences that take full advantage of Windows Phone.
- HTML5 is a solution for many scenarios, and developers should make the appropriate choice based on application needs, knowing that we have a heritage and a future vision of supporting a wide variety of technologies to meet those needs.
Well that didn't give much away! Then follows several paragraphs of waffle that basically says there are tools for different jobs. Then it points out that, in more tactful words, that the universe is no longer centered around Windows and the desktop. The next part fo the argument points out that HTML5 is the unifying environment and it is now up to doing many of the jobs that previously required a plugin:
The market momentum behind adoption of HTML5 as the path forward for broad cross-platform reach continues to gather momentum, and with Internet Explorer 9 Microsoft is chief among those leading that charge.
We then return to a "horses for courses" waffle and then the observation that:
While much has been written about a diminishing gap between the capabilities of HTML5 and capabilities provided by plug-ins, plug-ins will continue to evolve and so there will likely be a gap of some degree, and it will cyclically contract and expand. Contraction occurs as the standard specification "catches up" with the plug-in technologies, and then expands again as the next wave of innovation pushes the boundary further forward.
Yes this is all true. Then we get to the point - yes a beta of Silverlight 5 will be released at MIX and Microsoft is ready to ride both horses - HTML5 in IE9 and Silverlight as a plugin when that isn't up to the job and for Windows Phone 7,
If you take out the Microsoft hype and bias then what you have is an accurate, clear and welcome analysis of the situation. Back HTML5 - yes - but don't drop Silverlight it goes much further than HTML5 does.
What would have been nice is to hear some commitment from Microsoft to ensure that Silverlight was as cross platform and as cross browser as possible. There is still the suspicion that Microsoft is using HTML5 as its cross platform browser effort and using this to justify leaving Silverlight isolated as a Windows/Phone solution.
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