Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

Summary: The development platform and tools strategy at Microsoft is getting increasingly complex, especially around XAML/Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight. Here's the latest.


The development platform and tools strategy at Microsoft  is getting increasingly complex, especially around XAML/Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight. Here's the latest.

Microsoft on June 20 split up its XAML team, sending part of it to Windows, part to Windows Phone and leaving part in the Developer Division, according to an e-mail from Developer Division chief Soma Somasegar dated June 20.

Why does this matter? XAML -- the eXtensible Markup Language -- is an XML language developed by Microsoft. From Microsoft's own description page about XAML: "XAML is the language behind the visual presentation of an application that you develop in Microsoft Expression Blend, just as HTML is the language behind the visual presentation of a Web page." XAML is used by WPF and its Silverlight sibling.

Here's the e-mail from Somaseagar, sent to me by a contact requesting confidentiality:

From: S. Somasegar Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 To: Client and Mobile Team Cc: Developer Division FTE; Steven Sinofsky; Julie Larson-Green; Terry Myerson; David Treadwell Subject: Bringing together client platform efforts


Over the last couple of years, our Client and Mobile team has done a fantastic job of building a number of XAML related technologies that have been a huge value add to the Microsoft client platforms and an instrumental part of delighting our developer customers. The agility and customer focus that the team has demonstrated over the years has been a pleasure to watch.

Today, we are making some organization changes to bring our platform technologies under a single management structure. These changes are centered around three focus areas:

• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows will move to Windows.

• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows Phone, Xbox and browser plugin will move to Windows Phone.

• The Client and Mobile tools teams, including Windows Phone tools and XAML tools, will stay in DevDiv.

These changes are all effective immediately. From a performance review perspective, we will do this year’s performance review underthe DevDiv organization model.

I want to thank Kevin Gallo and the team for all the great work that they have done over the years. Moving forward, I'm  very excited to bring the client platform efforts closer to the platform teams. There is a lot of very exciting and critical work underway as part of our next wave of platform releases and I am very eagerly looking forward to seeing the team’s work in the hands of our developers and customers.

The follow-up emails will provide more details on thechanges to those impacted.  Please join me in wishing Kevin and the  team all the very best as we move forward.  If you have any questions about this change, please let your manager or me know.


Here's what I take away from the memo:

There's seemingly a battle between Windows and DevDiv inside Microsoft, and it sure looks like the advantage is with WinDev right now.

The "team working on XAML technologies for Windows" referred to in the Somasegar e-mail includes the Jupiter team. If you need a Jupiter refresher, Jupiter is a new UI library for Windows, as of Windows 8, that is expected to be a thinly layered on top of Windows APIs and frameworks for graphics, text, media, input and can be used to build immersive apps using a XAML based approach. Last I heard, Jupiter would allow developers a choice of programming langues. Jupiter-based immersive apps supposedly will be deployed through the Windows App Store.

Will the Windows 8 team kill or promote Jupiter, given this move? I don't know. I'd assume the Windows client team is still planning on promoting WPF/Silverlight a development environment for line-of-business apps, but it's not clear from the Somasegar e-mail that this is the case.

However, according to another June 20 e-mail from Julie Larson-Green, the Corporate Vice President of Windows Experience on the Windows client team, the part of the XAML team that is going to the Windows team "will continue their work on Windows 8 as planned and will join our Developer Experience (DEVX) team. This transition allows us to bring together our platform development team in a single-management structure."

That seems to be good news for devs not comfy with Microsoft's seeming HTML5/JavaScript force-feed. It sounds as though even if .NET, per se, fades, developers should still be able to code with C#/XAML. (In other words, .NET lives under a new name.)

The team working on XAML for Windows Phone, Xbox and "browser plug-in" are now part of the Windows Phone team, which is not in Windows. So XAML (and Silverlight) are still alive in the phone/gaming space. Microsoft officials said last year that Silverlight would continue to be a platform promoted by Microsoft for streaming media. I am assuming this is where/how that mission will go forward.

Kevin Gallo, just a month ago, was referred to in a Microsoft Server and Tools reorg memo as the guy heading up the "Client Platform Team" in the Developer Division, following Scott Guthrie's transition to the Windows Azure team. His Linkedin Profile lists him as the "General Manager of Silverlight."  So that means the Silverlight team seems to no longer be in the Developer Division. Does Gallo still have a job at Microsoft? Not clear, but I'm thinking he now works in Windows client (?).

Update: One of my readers says that Gallo was moved to the Windows Phone development team, given that's where the Silverlight plug-in is going

So there you have it. What "it" is, I'm not entirely sure. All I can say, yet again, is Microsoft is doing itself more disservice than service by refusing to offer Silverlight and WPF developers even the most bare-bones official reassurance that there are plans to continue to support these technologies in Windows 8. The silence (and promises that all will be revealed at September at the Build conference) is creating a lot of unnecessary fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).

I tried  to contact the powers-that-be in Microsoft's Developer Division this week for clarification on the Silverlight/Jupiter/Windows 8 development situation and received no comment (beyond being sent a link to the upcoming Build conference).

Topics: Mobility, CXO, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development, IT Employment, Windows


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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  • i dont know why you are so pessimistic

    basically, if xaml is moving into the windows team (specifically devx), that means xaml will be an important part of windows in the future... that can only mean xaml support in the new windows 8 jupiter framework.

    silverlight is a subset of wpf, so where full wpf is available, silverlight is not needed (besides, they are basically the same thing as far as markup/libraries are concerned)

    as a .net developer, I am totally reassured that the new windows 8 touch stack will use .net/wpf.

    there is no disservice being done, except for you being sensationalist.
    • Glad you are reassured!

      Glad you are seeing the glass half full here. And maybe it is. I am talking to a lot of devs whose bosses now see the glass as half empty, and who are killing/postponing SL projects because they believe MS is no longer committed to .Net/WPF/SL. I hope you are right. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

        @Mary Jo Foley

        but thats the thing I dont get with your article, from where I stand, the glass is full and almost overflowing with all the cool shit that microsoft is doing as far as new sorts of software I can develop (pen / touch / kinect for xbox / tv / tablet / smartphone / pc / laptop / web / surface) - and its all .net

        .net will be way more important in windows 8 than it ever has been. If anything, I feel sorry for the devs not using .net
      • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

        @Mary Jo Foley People love to be scared, and they love to be sad. Any newspaper editor knows that. Those bosses who see the glass half empty are the same kind of people who would complain about having to pay higher taxes if they won the lottery, and based on my extensive experience of life ;) this is the case for 98.6% of people out there (these numbers must be true, because I just made them up).

        Microsoft could solve this with just a couple of nice words, but they chose not to do that. Why it seems a good idea to them is beyond me. It is unfortunately a sign that WinDiv is running the show regarding Build, and that they have no idea on how to make developers happy. However, seeing how Build is almost sold out, it seems to be working. Trying to make sense of all this is like peeing in the proverbial violin (

        I for one am very excited about Win8, and really happy I will be at Build to be part of all that. 2012 is going to be a blast, with Win8, Jupiter, Mango, XAML/C#/Blend, Kinect and more. I cannot wait. Guess that makes my glass 3/4 full ;)

      • Devs rule no matter what

        @Mary Jo Foley Simply put, devs will keep alive what they like. When Microsoft moved from VB and MFC to .Net, it was a clear winner. A majority of devs could see the advantage and moved their quickly. Subsets like ASP.Net, MVC, WPF and SL have their camps, but the force is strong in them. I don't see them abandoning .Net for years to come. The only way that would happen is if Linux or Mac became the next office standard OS.

        I personally like Html/Javascript for web because its so light and new tech makes it more powerful. But for those who want that "app" experience, SL/WPF will still be around.
        A Gray
      • MJ - There's a detailed post on Ars on this topic yesterday !

        MJ & everyone reading this blog post may wan't to read this should read this Ars tech posted yesterday. by "Peter Bright". A must read for everyone following this SL/XAML/WPF stuff/FUD.

        Seems .NET is getting deep into the Win 8 OS with this WinRT, as I posted below in my comments yesterday.
    • Common sense...

      What are you trying to do here? Bring common sense to the "All About Microsoft" blog? This is a place where code-names and gossip and speculation rule. You know, if you become a master of code-names, you automatically become a genius wih the underlying technology.

      Clearly, this blog cares more about Microsoft developers than Microsoft itself - while Microsoft is trying to screw them over, this blog is trying to stand up for them. (end sarcasm).
      tick tock
      • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

        @tick tock lol
      • Microsoft screwing who?

        @tick tock Code a few enterprise apps in Cocoa and Objective-C then talk about screwing developers. That language is stuck in 1999 and will be for decades to come. The "magic" of the Mac takes a LOT of effort. Microsoft has done a great deal to make developing for Windows interesting and fast. I wish Objective-C were like coding in Silverlight, that would certainly make my life easier.

        Seriously, no memory management on the phone? No dot-notation methods? Reflection is cumbersome at best. And if you drop down into C-land its a dev nightmare. Where is the watch/replace/immediate windows of XCode?
        A Gray
      • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

        @AGray - I couldn't agree with you more.

        Every time I have to code something in Objective-C for iOS/OSX, I throw up a little.

        Coding for iOS and OSX is like stepping back to writing code in 1990. There's a reason that nobody (other than Apple) uses Obejctive-C and why, until Apple unlocked the marketplace, almost nobody wrote apps for Apple's platform.

        As for XCode? It's an absolute joke.

        Wherever possible, I prefer to write iOS/OSX code in C# atop Mono/MonoTouch. ANYTHING is better than Apple's dev platform.
    • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

      @kidsilver just cause the OS supports XAML/WPF doesn't mean the user browser will support the silverllight plugin. A lot of people are building pieces of their website (EG WebParts or iWidgets) with silverlight to offer RIAs with very small dev time & great performance that HTML5 just can't match, filling in the hole that Java Applets never could hit and Flash has been OK at working with. Now it's possible that space will be completely missing. that's what developers fear, rich features in thin apps delivered over HTTP, not thick client applications hosted by the OS.
      • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

        @drdamour Sinofsky said explicitly that IE10 will support Silverlight.
      • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?


        as lbugnion says, IE10 will support Silverlight, and not just that... but ActiveX, so Flash and Java as well, as well as the new HTML5 stuff, and HTML4 stuff as well, so... honestly, imo that is about as good as it can get for a developer.
  • You have no idea what you're talking about

    @Richard Flude MS Dev tools is extremely focused and has evolved into something really awesome. There is no deviation from the path - the interpretation of the email in this article is terrible!
    General C#
  • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

    @Richard Flude I'm with you, Richard. MS Dev tools have tried to be all things to all people, without enough care and attention to provide adequate integration. All the talk of HTML5 takes away from WPF.<br><br>EDIT: Richard, your message has since been deleted. There was NO reason for your message to be deleted. There was nothing in it that would violate any AUP. This is occurring more and more at ZDNet and severely detracts from the product. What are you thinking ZDNet?
    • Message has been deleted.

    • RE: Microsoft splits up its XAML team: What's the fallout?

      @woulddie4apple, you're missing my point. Richard said nothing to warrant having is message deleted. ZDNet is doing a disservice to us, and themselves, by arbitrarily deleting messages. Just because a message is flagged, doesn't mean it should be deleted.

      To find humor in it is equally repulsive.
    • Knowing Richard, it deserved to be deleted

      Like I said, Richard has made quite a reputation for himself by being one of the biggest trolls here.

      And yes, I find it very humorous that his message was deleted and even better that it pissed him off so much. YEAH!!! :)
  • Deleted?

    This is getting crazy. The company I lead is a MS partner and paid up subscriber yet it appears no criticism of MS position is allowed, even the obvious.Enjoy the ignorance.
    Richard Flude
    • HAHA!!

      @Richard Flude