Late last week a number of posts popped up online talking about the “death of Silverlight”. These posts were roughly based on a piece by Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet, who had reported on Microsoft’s change in strategy around Silverlight. Based on what Mary Jo saw at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) last week, Silverlight was more in the shadows than at previous conferences, so she spoke with Bob Muglia, Microsoft’s President in charge of the company’s server and tools business and got the scoop on Microsoft’s change in strategy with Silverlight. Bob stated that “Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone”, and he went on to state that it also has some “sweet spots” for media and business applications. However, he stated, for cross-platform development Microsoft was putting its weight behind the only real alternative at the moment, HTML5.
Sites like Tech Crunch jumped on these comments, took them out of context, and reported that Silverlight was dead. This sparked outrage by a group of Silverlight developers who countered with their own list of reasons why HTML5 is not ready for prime-time. Finally Bob Muglia came out himself and posted a reply clarifying his position and reaffirming Microsoft’s commitment to Silverlight as a media and business application technology. He restated that Silverlight is an important and strategic technology for Microsoft, that it is the development platform for Windows Phone, and that the company is working hard on the next release.
So what’s the final outcome of this back and forth? Silverlight is not dead. Microsoft is simply stating that if you are looking to do true cross-platform application development, then HTML5 will be your best option. However, for certain media application and for enterprise applications with rich interactions and complex data visualization, Silverlight remains a strong and viable alternative.