Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

Summary:Developers are abuzz over a Wall Street analyst's claim that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may make an appearance at the upcoming Apple World Wide Developers Conference in early June. Could this be the long-rumored debut of Silverlight for the iPhone?

Developers are abuzz over a Wall Street analyst's claim that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may make an appearance at the upcoming Apple World Wide Developers Conference in early June. The speculation centers around talk that Ballmer himself may introduce some kind of add-on for Visual Studio 2010 to support development of iPhone apps using Microsoft's tool suite.

While that's possible -- after all, there's an add-on for Visual Studio 2010 that supports Windows Phone 7 development -- I'm thinking something else may be afoot. If Ballmer is going to make a cameo appearance at WWDC, I'm thinking if such an announcement happens, it'll be Silverlight for the iPhone.

Update: Microsoft (via Twitter) is denying Ballmer will be there, but maybe someone else from Microsoft will? No word on that....

Back to Silverlight and the iPhone...

Thanks to developer Mike Sax, president and founder of Sax Software, for his tweet that put this idea in my head.)

Update: Two of my Twitter followers (@makram and @clubdirthill) noted that the announcement also could be the rumored Bing on iPhone/iPad exclusive. Good point. If it's going to be Ballmer on stage, it's likely a bigger a tit-for-tat deal. ("I'll trade you Bing on the iPhone if you give me Silverlight on the iPhone...)

No one from Microsoft is talking about any kind of rumored Ballmer/WWDC announcements, but such a move isn't outside the realm of possibility. Yes, Microsoft and Apple are rivals in the phone and PC space, but Microsoft sells Office for Mac (and has a new version of that product coming out this holiday season).

More fodder: WWDC kicks off the same day/week that Microsoft's TechEd developer/IT pro conference does. And Microsoft has been tight-lipped about which of its execs (other than Server and Tools President Bob Muglia) will be keynoting that event in New Orleans. I'd guess that means Ballmer is not going to be at TechEd -- which means he could be in San Francisco (with a live webcast feed beamed to the TechEd masses from WWDC).

A Silverlight for iPhone port has been hinted at by Microsoft for the past couple of years. And since Apple CEO Steve Jobs is continuing to ban Silverlight-rival Flash on the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft would love to get a leg up there. (And Apple would have some kind of alternative those wanting to view rich-media content on its mobile devices.)

But Silverlight isn't solely about media playback via a plug-in that already works on Apple's Safari (as well as Internet Explorer and Firefox). Silverlight also a development platform. Silverlight is one of the two main developer platforms (the other being XNA for games) that Microsoft is offering developers for Windows Phone 7.

Would it really be so hard for Microsoft to extend support of Silverlight to iPhone developers? (I'm asking here because I don't know and I'd love some input from Windows Phone developers on this one.)

What do you think? Could the rumors be true? Might Microsoft be willing to sacrifice one of the few advantages it has in the smartphone space (great development tools) to get more folks developing on Silverlight?

Topics: CXO, Apple, Enterprise Software, Hardware, iPhone, Microsoft, Mobility, Smartphones, Windows, Developer


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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