Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

Summary: Microsoft has posted an update on the future of Silverlight which confirms the shift in the company's strategy about which I blogged last week.


After I published a blog post last week about Microsoft's shift in its Silverlight strategy (based on an interview I did at the Professional Developers Conference with Server and Tools President Bob Muglia), there were a lot of concerned and angry Silverlight developers and customers.

Many of these unhappy campers were reacting not so much to my post, but to subsequent reinterpretations which claimed Silverlight was dead (something I never wrote and Muglia never said).

In a November 1 post to the Silverlight Team Blog, Muglia attempted to calm the storm.

Muglia said the interview where he spoke about Silverlight at the PDC was "accurately reported." In the new post, he reconfirmed that Microsoft is working on the next release of Silverlight (which will be cross-platform) and that Silverlight will continue to be important to developers in the Windows Phone and Windows markets.

Muglia restated that Silverlight is a good development platform for media and enterprise applications. "Silverlight provides a rich UI framework that enables smooth animations and lends itself very well to touch input and embedded devices," he noted (meaning, in this case Windows Phones and embedded devices, not slates/tablets).

Muglia also said, as I blogged last week, that Microsoft no longer considers Silverlight as the best way to install a single runtime on all devices. For that, Microsoft is planning to rely on HTML. From today's post:

"Lastly, there has been massive growth in the breadth and diversity of devices made by a wide variety of vendors providing both open and closed systems. When we started Silverlight, the number of unique/different Internet-connected devices in the world was relatively small, and our goal was to provide the most consistent, richest experience across those devices. But the world has changed. As a result, getting a single runtime implementation installed on every potential device is practically impossible. We think HTML will provide the broadest, cross-platform reach across all these devices. At Microsoft, we’re committed to building the world’s best implementation of HTML 5 for devices running Windows, and at the PDC, we showed the great progress we’re making on this with IE 9."

What does this mean to folks who were betting on Silverlight as Microsoft's Web design/development platform? That's not quite as clear.

Will Microsoft be spending energy to port Silverlight to new platforms like Android, as was originally promised and assumed? Will Silverlight ever be available on Apple's iOS? Will Microsoft try to do what Adobe is and somehow provide a Silverlight-to-HTML conversion tool? Will Microsoft be introducing any new development tools specifically for HTML and if so, when? No word on any of these questions (so far).

What other questions about Silverlight's future do you still have after reading Muglia's update today?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development


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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  • RE: Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

    Having people who know nothing about software development blogging on such subjects is never a good thing...
    Silverlight was never gonna replace HTML. Get over it.
    • Kind of an impolite a$$hole, ain't ya

      • RE: Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

        @sackbut Just stating the facts, mam
      • No, not just facts, and uncalled for insult of a very good journalist.

    • Before HTML did not have what was needed to do web applications that would

      replace locally installed applications. With pre-standard implementations of HTML5 parts and truly amazing JavaScript performance, we are getting there.
    • Oh, and I think Mary Jo does a really good job. She understands the issues

      very well. She has very insightful and informative posts.
      • RE: Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

        @DonnieBoy I love reading MaryJo's blog when she covers what she knows. Software development clearly isn't her area of expertise.
        Silverlight was never supposed to replace HTML. Not HTML 4, and clearly not HTML 5. Silverlight was always pitched first as a media plugin (think flash), and as the platform evolved, Silverlight was positioned as the the best way to develop client apps.
        Making a big fuss because BobMU said that html 5 was the best way to develop cross platform web apps has the same impact as stating that the earth is round
      • NO!!!! Silverlight was CLEARLY developed to replace web applications. It is

        just that Google and about everybody else jumped on the HTML5 bandwagon, AND, improved JavaScript performance. Current implementations are what, at least a hundred times faster than IE6?

        MS was trying to stagnate the standard web in order that you had to use MS proprietary technologies for rich interactive web applications. Then came Firefox, later, unbelievable JavaScript performance, and the rest is history.
  • Yes, Microsoft is forced to admit the obvious: Silverlight is going nowhere

    HTML5 is the future of web applications. There is really no justification for writing applications in Silverlight.
    • RE: Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

      I was going to repply... but then I saw your name
      • Well, it should be VERY easy to refute my arguments considering you have

        such a low opinion of the quality of my posts. However, it seems you are depressed and have no good argument to counter what I said, and must revert to off-hand insults.

        Waiting for your argument . . . .
    • You missed the point: Silverlight, for as good a platform as it is

      has one minor drawback: With HTML5, Apple kinda HAS to support that as it'll be the standard moving forwatd, Silverlight on the other hand, Apple, or anyone, can keep off their future devices like they've done with Adobe.
      John Zern
      • Right, that is EXACTLY the problem for Silverlight. The popularity of new

        platforms that do not run Windows and that they refuse to install Silverlight in order to screw Microsoft. Well, to be honest, it is also Microsoft's inability to port rapidly to new platforms. I assume an Android port might be coming????

        But, it is also a problem that websites are refusing to use Silverlight.
      • Wrong DonnieBoy, sites aren't refusing to use Silverlight

        as it appears alot of sites are. I think MS is being VERY smart here, not allowing companies like Apple to try and do an end run around as they did with Adobe.
        John Zern
      • John Zern: I do not even know one web site that uses Silverlight, AND, I am

        not trying to avoid anything. With the ability to test for and use HTML5 features right now, there is no reason whatsoever to use Silverlight for your website.
    • RE: Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

      @DonnieBoy Hey man, what do you know about HTML5, did you ever written an app in HTML5. If MS is going to support HTML5 big way in PCs, why not in WP7, why asking people to write in SL. If Chrome is going to support HTML5, why they've not implemented it in full. Apple again the same story.<br><br>Get over it, HTML5 is 2-3 yrs away. PERIOD. You, MJ & Bob Mugila need to understand this.<br><br>@pedroroque<br><br>I totally agree with you, she spoiled her reputation by writing on SL. It's not her fault, Bob/MS guys who've decided made the worst decission ever.
      • Actually, pre-standard implementations of important parts of HTML5 are

        already here, and being used by web developers RIGHT now. It is super easy to test for and use individual HTML5 features. Also, JavaScript performance is nothing short of unbelievable, a major piece in making HTML viable for web applications.<br><br><br>Here is a great tutorial on getting started with HTML5:<br><br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>
      • RE: Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

        @Donnie Boy: ACTUALLY ... while parts of HTML5 are at recommendation stage, A LOT of HTML5 and its supporting technologies (e.g. CSS3) are some way off. Most haven't even achieved last-call.

        While increasingly complete implementations of HTML5 and its supporting technologies will emerge in the coming years, they are unlikely to achieve full ratification until AT LEAST 2020.

        Oh ... and just to correct you further ... there are plently of things that Silverlight does REALLY well which HTML5 does not. Not least it's storyboarding and animation, high-performance video and audio playback combined with the fact that the code inside a Silverlight site/app is compiled, not interpreted, results in it being able to execute MUCH faster than Javascript.
    • RE: Microsoft's Muglia reconfirms HTML is Microsoft's cross-platform play

      HTML5 is the future of html applications... by definition. The specification is still in Editor's draft form, and some parts (like canvas) are safe to implement, and I, - like many developers - look forward to how it plays out, but it will be a few years yet.

      For today, Silverlight is a much better choice for a wide range of applications. In fact you can't find a better choice if you want to build a Rich Internet Application using powerful development tools.

      I am sure MS has a plan to fold them together eventually, since we'd all prefer to write for the native browsers instead of a plugin. But this all happens down-the-road.
      • Nobody is using Silverlight for web applications, and, you can already use

        HTML5. You can test for and use individual features:

        HTML5 is already widely used. And, with unbelievable JavaScript performance, you can just use plain Ajax for a lot of things.