Monday, April 1, 2013

Silverlight to be Rewritten into HTML5

I did not get to go to Convergence this year but it is possible to access the excellent presentations if you registered. As it happens I did not register but an MVP friend of mine slipped me a login and password so I thought I would browse the content. There are some great talks on Orion which I highly recommend.

The Interesting Video

However, being the cheeky browser that I am I thought I would sneak behind the scenes a bit. All the videos were assigned a number in the URL i.e. so it was not hard to increment the number to see what else was around. One that I came across was which did not appear to be a polished presentation but a three-way conversation between, what I assume were Microsoft executives. This being said, the gentleman in the middle appeared to have a Finnish accent so perhaps he is from Nokia. Another curiosity is the logo in the top left suggests they are using a Google Hangout, rather than, say, Lync. Therefore, I assume, this is not an official presentation.


Once I started listening to the recording and realised it was significant, I took the screenshot with a hope of identifying the characters later. Unfortunately the presentation now appears to have been taken down and I did not grab a recording.

Anyhow, I am not sure if the recording was supposed to be on the Convergence site but the recording was of them discussing the future of Silverlight. As you may know there is hot debate regarding the relevance of technologies such as Flash and Silverlight in the light of the rise of html5, the new web standard. Consensus on the web seems to be that, while html5 is powerful, it does not have a fully fleshed-out development platform like Silverlight, is not a final standard and is supported by internet browsers to about the same extent as Silverlight is. In short, technologies like Silverlight are not going anywhere any time soon.

Microsoft’s Strategy

On the video, the gents talked about Microsoft’s role in the World Wide Web Consortium, some of the initiatives of the Windows Blue project and the plans for a SVG compatible Silverlight plugin to be the part of all browsers. To be more accurate, for a browser to be considered html5 compatible, it will need to support Silverlight. As the html5 standard is not final yet it seems the plan is to incorporate the Silverlight elements of .Net into the html5 standard if not for 5.0, then for 5.1 in 2016.

I can see the sense in this. For smaller animations and applications, developers can use html5. For larger, more enterprise endeavours where security is a concern and deeper client access is required, developers can use Silverlight and the .Net framework confident it will work in all contemporary browsers. Silverlight will move from being a Microsoft standard to becoming the standard for enterprise web-app development much as it is today for Windows Phones.

In the same way Microsoft and Novell worked on Moonlight for the Linux platform, it seems Microsoft plans to work with the other members of the Consortium to provide Silverlight compatibility in all popular browsers. Given Microsoft has already worked with Apple on bringing Silverlight to the iPhone, it will be hard for the other members to argue with these juggernauts of the client-server and digital worlds. Based on the rhetoric in the discussion it will be a case of getting on board or not getting endorsed as supporting the html5 standard.

It was also briefly mentioned that a project similar to Moonlight, called ‘Silverlite’ would also be hosted on codeplex for browsers not being directly assisted.


If Microsoft can insert Silverlight as a standard component of all web browsers this will probably be the end of Flash but will still complement html5, which can be used for smaller, lightweight projects. Thank you to Chris Cognetta, Jukka Niiranen and Jason Gumpert for their assistance with the article and for more information on the Silverlite codeplex project and Microsoft’s html5/Silverlight strategy, click here.

And, by the way, this is an April Fools Post ;)


Anonymous said...

Cheeky! :)

Unknown said...

Smarty pants

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Conor Gallagher said...

I wish I had read this 2 days ago, awesome article!

Unknown said...

Great convergence. This article would be very useful. Thanks for sharing this article.