Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

Summary: Microsoft didn't make its own deadline of releasing to the Web version 5 of Silverlight. And there's still no word as to when and if the Softies will talk about the platform's future.

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Microsoft officials said earlier this fall that the gold version of Silverlight 5 would be released to the Web (RTW) in November 2011. It's the last day of the month, but there's no RTW happening today.

Silverlight 5 is the most recent version of Microsoft's browser plug-in and Web, desktop and mobile development platform. It will sport 40 new features, including general performance enhancements, rich-media additions and enterprise-app-specific updates.

In an October 26 Webcast with the Linked.Net user group, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and former head of the Silverlight team Scott Guthrie said that Silverlight 5 would ship “next month,” meaning November. Based on e-mail exchanges I've had, it seemed that as of last week a Silverlight 5 RTW before month's end was still the plan.

But on November 30, I asked Microsoft yet again for more specifics on Silverlight's shifting future and was told by a spokesperson Silverlight 5 still isn't finalized. The spokesperson said officials would have more to say about Silverlight 5 in "the coming weeks," as Microsoft still intends to ship version 5. The spokesperson didn't answer my question as to whether Microsoft also would be talking about Silverlight's future at that time.

Silverlight developers have been hoping that the Softies would use the Silverlight 5 delivery milestone to come clean on what Microsoft plans for Silverlight in the future. As I've blogged, I've heard from various Microsoft partners and customers that Microsoft execs have been telling them privately that Silverlight 5 is the last major release of Microsoft's rich-media platform. (A couple of my contacts said there might be a Silverlight 5.1 in the pipeline, but nothing beyond that.)

I've also heard from a number of my contacts that Microsoft is not holding a Mix conference in 2012. Silverlight has been a big focal point for the past six Mix conferences. Microsoft officials declined to say whether there will or won't be a Mix 2012 show this year, when I asked.

Given that Microsoft arch-rival Adobe recently acknowledged publicly that its strategy with Flash had changed and that there would be no more mobile-browser Flash plug-in releases, I've been hoping and expecting that Microsoft execs might also be willing to explain -- clearly and concisely -- what they plan to do with Silverlight.

As Adobe's acknowledgement made evident, there are nuances in the niche targeted by Microsoft and Adobe with Silverlight and Flash. Adobe isn't dropping Flash entirely in favor of HTML5; it is continuing to deliver Flash versions for PCs and it will continue to enable developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for the major app stores. Adobe also is donating the Flex codebase to the Apache Foundation.

Perhaps Microsoft is planning a similar course with Silverlight: Abandon mobile-browser plug-in versions of Silverlight but continue to support Silverlight as a platform for mobile apps and line-of-business apps? (One thing we do know: Microsoft isn't planning to donate anything Silverlight-related to the Apache Foundation. I asked and a spokesperson said no.)

We also know that Microsoft is pushing HTML5/JavaScript/CSS as its favored, but not exclusive, way to develop Windows 8 apps. All may not be lost for those with Silverlight skills, however. WinRT -- the replacement for Win32 for Metro-style apps -- overlaps substantially with Silverlight, in terms of programming interfaces, according to a recent blog post by software architect and Silverlight Insider Tim Greenfield. Here's a diagram from Greenfield showing that API overlap:

So for those of you asking, yes, Silverlight 5 is still a go. And no word yet as to when -- and if -- Microsoft will explain what's next for the platform.

Topics: Microsoft, Software Development

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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23 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Silverlight as a LOB and mobile platform sounds great. The writing on the walls is clear. As a plug in, it is on life support. But as a platform it is still kicking and could have a long future.
    AceOfClubs
    • My source told me the entire SL team is history

      SL guys either were too pissed off to stay with MSFT any more or moved into other teams.
      LBiege
    • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

      Agreed for Silverlight in LOB apps. I am in favour of open standards generally, but standards are inherently retroactive so where the OS and browser used by users can be controlled it makes more sense to use components from the same propietary stack as much as possible.
      OffsideInVancouver
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    I will quit development before going back to the stone ages of html and JavaScript.
    moorster
    • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

      @moorster
      I think for websites a plug-in Free environment is fine. However I believe phone apps are proving users would rather have a dedicated app for sites they often frequent. So being able to DL/run a .Xap from a website or App Store and having a more feature rich, desktop like experience, and a launchable Icon/Shortcut on the desktop/toolbar/quick launcher will lead to a better user experience.
      AceOfClubs
      • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

        @AceOfClubs Absolutely, I think that's the direction MS will take for Silverlight 5 and beyond, like a WinRT for the web, dedicated apps that run as WinRT apps or Silverlight apps in the web
        keoz
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Microsoft has never released a mobile silverlight plugin.
    Darkninja962
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Have a look at those diagrams comparing SL5 and WinRT and then ask yourself why didn't some marketing genius label WinRT as SL6 and make everyone happy.
    pgb54
    • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

      @pgb54 - Because Sinofsky can't stand happy SL developers would be my guess.
      Dewey2000
  • I give up on MS. The whole desktop/LOB story is an utter shambles.

    I'm scrapping my WinForms app and moving entirely to ASP.NET and web services. Then it's a move to another UI platform/front end for me. I hope Alan Sugar will forgive me using his words 'They haven't got a clue, not a bloody, bloody clue.'
    rmac_z
  • Have fun with Silverlight 4 till then at silverlightfun.com

    FREE chapter of the book 'Fun with Silverlight 4' http://silverlightfun.com/?page_id=105
    connectrajesh@...
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    All very nice, but I currently have an app that is distributed to over 20 countries and by using Silverlight, I don't need to install it on the client and the update process is seamless. Because of its nature I would find it impossible to see it done in HTML/JS for at least the next 3-5 years in terms of developer tools / maturity of the platform.

    WinRT is just not an alternative, because it is bound to Windows 8 and beyond, and it will take at least 10-15 YEARS (!!!!!) before you can program a LOB for that platform, as companies are so slow to migrate.

    They had a chicken AND a golden egg, and the softies are throwing it all away, damn you!
    rogihee
    • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

      @rogihee I have a similar scenario, I cannot imagine rewriting my WCF Ria Services and classes in javascript with the current technology, it would be crazy, I think you're right, to achieve something like silverlight can do in HTML5, at least 3-5 years
      diegomesa
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Wp7 has failed.
    Microsoft Start sue the world......
    Sultansulan
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Silverlight.

    Queue funeral march music.
    Alan Smithie
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Well, in all honesty, it's beginning to smell like "Courier" all over again.

    I guess it's fun mising boats, only to drown on dry land.

    If I'm being too cryptic, the softies are losing faster than a 100mph pitch!
    Dewey2000
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Silverlight is an awesome technology and Microsoft should continue supporting/expanding/building upon it... Would be a shame to see it die of neglect.....come on microsoft..
    hemants@...
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    MSFT isn't throwing anything away. Apple is pushing hard on the world to go without plugins. As long as people buy iPhones and iPads, web developers are getting more and more nervous about using ANY plugins.

    And if plugins are going to be nonexistent on mobile platforms, Silverlight's value decreases. We already have WPF. Silverlight retains value on the desktop but how do you ever expect it to be important if millions of iPhones and iPads won't ever support it?

    Apple is just running out the clock on MSFT and Adobe, and they've run it out successfully on Adobe. Unless MSFT is willing to keep investing and try to beat Apple at iPhones and iPads (and no one is buying the very good WP7), then it's over.

    Apple's commercials are just better.
    Chris Gomez
  • RE: Microsoft: No Silverlight 5 release in November

    Gartner group described silverlight as MSFT's best product, we push it to its current limits and eagerly await SL5. We create web apps that look like apps with SL, not web sites pretending to be apps - well until were forced to HTML5 and the endless Java updates. MSFT wake up and invest in a fantastic product I for one would pay 10 times for SL, but not a penny for HTML5!
    jjkhart
  • dissapointed

    The reason why people are jumping on HTML5 is because other companies are adopting it. It actually has nothing to do with MS. Other companies don't have the patience of a neurotic bipolar infant like MS does so HTML5 will be around for a long time in a nice slow steady pace. You can learn HTML5 and it will be usefull to you for the next 20 years. The one fact we can say about MS is that there is NO client side technology they provide that if you learn will give you stability for more than 5 years. *NONE*. Its always the next new crazy thing with them. Every couple of years its "everyone before me was so wrong". What the heck was so *wrong* with winforms that could not have been innovated on. They couldn't just ADD dependency properties and transparency and switch to direct x and incorporate resolution independence without starting a new team with new namespaces and new *incompatible* paradigms ?!?

    Obviously developers would use Silverlight if they felt it was going to be a worthy intellectual investment. In fact, this is one of the rare cases where consumers actually *adopted* silverlight, but there was just NO content out there to help it shine. But who can rationalize wasting intellectual energy on something that was being touted as the next big thing out of Microsoft for 3 years! 3 years! and one day about to be extinct? Isn't it obvious that, flip-flopping, spastic behavior is what has just simply *killed* Silverlight as a viable development option for enterprises and users alike and will undoubtedly *kill* WP7 and Metro. Why commit to Metro? Why? 3 years from now they could be pitching some totally random new thing. Why build any Windows Phone 7 apps at this stage, any killer apps at least? Come November of next year they could be telling you how easy it is to copy paste your code into the *new* language and framework etc. MS client side technologies have been on an ever changing spiral of MADNESS since VB6 ended. The list of different technologies in the space of the last 15 years is mind boggling. Save yourself the stress and stick to server products that MS will not change too drastically for fear of annoying enterprises.
    >sharepoint
    >IIS (asp.net)
    >SQL SERVER

    Had I known that MS was like the beautiful think full of empty trappings you sink your energy into I would have stayed my but at Sun in boring world of "backwards compatibility". They make you feel special, like you are part of some "new wave" of "world changing technology", but not so. You quickly realize that the wave is the pattern. They are not in the business of *keeping* people in, they are in the business of *keeping people coming in*.
    moemeka