Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

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?

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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, Software Development, Software, Smartphones, Operating Systems, Mobility, Microsoft, iPhone, Hardware, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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98 comments
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  • Bing!

    Wouldn't a Bing announcement be a more likely possibility? That seems more likely to me. If Jobs won't allow flash, why would he allow SilverLight?
    rjohn05
    • And MS maps and not Google Maps

      @rjohn05

      VS? I don't see it.
      Bruizer
      • Silverlight is a far more promising platform than Flash

        If Jobs could not stand the threats from Flash as a platform, there's no way he'd want SilverLight.
        LBiege
      • And the promise behind what Silverlight can do

        would be enough of a reason to put it in a browser. What will happen is you'll have one side running Silverlight (Microsoft and Apple), and running it well on devices capable of OpenGLES 2 and later (iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPod Touch 3rd gen 32/64 GB). On the other side (Android), you'll have a number of devices that can run Flash. Some will run it well, others will choke more than half of the time. The majority of current Android devices choke on Flash 10.1, and only the fastest devices run it well.

        This would also prove very beneficial to Microsoft, as it would further promote the adoption of Silverlight on the desktop as a replacement for Flash. Adobe would be forced to improve, and it wouldn't be a bad thing. Especially since Silverlight has been able to comfortably play streaming HD video on my wife's MacBook Pro in OS X and Windows this entire time, where the flash 10.1 beta just added this ability recently (by comfortably, I'm not talking about frame rate, I'm talking about heat generated at the bottom of the machine).
        nix_hed
      • Balmer will say

        @Bruizer I say it'll just be his annual "Office for Mac" announcement with a twist (if anyone at all shows up). They'll be bringing Office Live Mobile to iPlatform. Big Woopi... <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/grin.gif" alt="grin"> Silverlight violates the same agreement that FLASH does. That's the old anyone can develop for Apple as long as they are white and wear Clonewear Designed by Steve Jobs Rule!<br><br>Bing would have Steve and Steve (of Microsoft), looking like the bobsy twins. Bing's Gaudy Vegas flashing lights look can repel vampires. So it'd repel Steve Jobs for sure. Not to mention users, who would go nuts over that change alone. Also the likelihood of their deal with Google for Search being tied to Google Earth and it's geo tagging location awareness!<br><br>Microsofts tool suite? Right.... no way.... it too violates Objective C native apps only development on iPlatform. Anti-Trust litigation would surely come with that move. Remember.... it's then like a group of corporations working to keep competition out. That would also violate Apples whole reason for not wanting FLASH on iPlatform. Every Program Must be developed using Apple's tools and Objective C for conformity of performance!
        i2fun@...
      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

        The hypocrisy is astounding as much as it is obvious. I increasingly regret my move to Apple a year ago.
        angel tenan
      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

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      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

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      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

        I get that Mary Jo probably doesn't follow Apple and probably isn't on top of things, but your comment is just as disappointing. Silverlight is in the same category as Flash. It's not going to happen. Apple has no reason to F-U Adobe. Not supporting Flash is about making the iPhone experience better, not about F-Uing<a href="http://www.bueydecabeza.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> af</font></a> <a href="http://www.makeawishhawaii.net/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ag</font></a> <a href="http://www.magistralianucleo.org/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ah</font></a> <a href="http://www.silcon.org/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ai</font></a> <a href="http://www.workingclasshero.us/"><font color="light&amp;height"> aj</font></a> <a href="http://www.fwtrack.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ak</font></a> <a href="http://www.wa2dci.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> al</font></a> <a href="http://www.funds-china.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> am</font></a> <a href="http://www.britishshakespeare.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> an</font></a> <a href="http://www.6999999.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ao</font></a> <a href="http://www.belex-homes.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ap</font></a> <a href="http://www.basistrening.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> aq</font></a> <a href="http://www.estudielenco.net/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ar</font></a> <a href="http://www.landrac.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> as</font></a> <a href="http://www.nikkeibp-chinese.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> at</font></a> <a href="http://www.expressnetairlines.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> au</font></a> <a href="http://www.israeliharvestcooperative.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> av</font></a> <a href="http://www.revistaurbanismo.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> aw</font></a> <a href="http://www.roypac.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ax</font></a> <a href="http://www.asklocal.biz/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ay</font></a> <a href="http://www.eriteatteri.com/"><font color="light&amp;height"> az</font></a> Adobe.
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      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

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      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

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      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

        Silverlight is very import, but is not enough to move SteveB that far. Only Bing can do.
        angel tenan
      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

        Performance (less resource hogging)? Better optimisation for iPhone OS? If any software house can make that happen, and do it better than Adobe, it's gotta be Microsoft or Google, and forget the latter in this war-climate.
        angel tenan
      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

        You made a good point. I think people seeing it as anti-Flash when in reality it isn't anti-Flash, it is also anti-Java, anti-Silverlight, anti-Brew or what ever other VM like runner you can think of. Anything that acts as a virtual machine and allows an individual to run an application inside another application (thus bypass the appstore) is banned.
        angel tenan
      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

        Flash just so happened to be the most high profile ban but that doesn't mean it is specifically targeted at Flash.
        angel tenan
    • Bing

      Yes. Good point. Added an update mentioning a possible Bing exclusive deal to the post above. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

        MJ, Silverlight is very import, but is not enough to move SteveB that far. Only Bing can do. Hey, what about both?
        jk_10
    • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

      @rjohn05: "If Jobs won't allow flash, why would he allow SilverLight?"

      Performance (less resource hogging)? Better optimisation for iPhone OS? If any software house can make that happen, and do it better than Adobe, it's gotta be Microsoft or Google, and forget the latter in this war-climate...
      AirmanChairman
    • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

      @rjohn05

      You made a good point. I think people seeing it as anti-Flash when in reality it isn't anti-Flash, it is also anti-Java, anti-Silverlight, anti-Brew or what ever other VM like runner you can think of. Anything that acts as a virtual machine and allows an individual to run an application inside another application (thus bypass the appstore) is banned. Flash just so happened to be the most high profile ban but that doesn't mean it is specifically targeted at Flash.

      For me, I love my iMac and MacBook but I'm leaning towards getting an Android tablet once 2.2 appears and Kindle is available on it. Apple makes some great stuff but I do think they're being overly paranoid - if people are going to screw up their devices, let them - but just warn them they'll receive no support as a result.
      Macintoshtoffy
    • RE: Is Silverlight for iPhone finally on its way?

      @rjohn05 an autonomous car that is actually practical. Also, Google is doing something very interesting here in tapping their cloud infrastructure. Notice that they hired engineers from previous automated vehicle competitions - thus funding some bright engineers to keep the technology advancing.
      Arabalar