Here's the good news for Microsoft developers attending Build: Silverlight and .Net are not dead. Here's the not-so-good news: They are mainly a means to write classic/Desktop apps, and not the new, "Metro-style" apps that Microsoft will be playing up in Windows 8.
Some of us press and analysts who agreed to a day-long non-disclosure agreement on September 12 -- the day before the Build conference started -- received some background on Microsoft's planned messaging for the confab. To me, there was one slide we saw that said it all, from a presentation by Ales Holecek, a Distinguished Engineer working on Windows. It's the Windows 8 architectural slide:
(image courtesy of @longzheng)
The second class of applications that can be built and run on Windows 8 PCs and tablets is called "Desktop" applications. These are applications that users can access by clicking on the Desktop tile in Windows 8. They don't have to be immersive; they can look and feel like classic Windows applications that don't assume that users will want/need to rely on touch as the primary way that they interact with them. Examples of existing Desktop apps that will work on Windows 8 are things like Photoshop or Intuit.
Microsoft's execs are emphasizing that Windows 8 is a no-compromise platform. They are positioning it as an operating system that can be all things to all people. But make no mistake: Microsoft sees Metro Style apps as the future. If you don't believe me, browse through the just-released list of sessions for Build.
Another interesting tidbit from the diagram above has to do with the "system services" layer -- the new app model plus the three boxes known as WinRT (Windows runtime). Readers of my blog will recall that some of the folks who dissected leaked Windows 8 builds already discovered the existence of WinRT. It does, indeed, look as seem to me that WinRT is the core set of services -- communications, graphics and devices/printing -- that replaces the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), etc. layer in Windows today. (Note: the replacement of WCF/WPF is just a guess on my part, and something I'll try to flesh out this week.)
Developers: What else do you want to know about Windows 8?