Silverlight and the future core of Microsoft

Silverlight and the future core of Microsoft

Summary: Today Microsoft is unveiling Ray Ozzie's project, Microsoft Live Mesh, which can best be summed up in the words of Mary Jo Foley - "a Software + Services platform for synchronization and collaboration." In simple terms, I think it's being able to interact with your data anywhere you go across a number of devices.

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Silverlight and the future core of MicrosoftToday Microsoft is unveiling Ray Ozzie's project, Microsoft Live Mesh, which can best be summed up in the words of Mary Jo Foley - "a Software + Services platform for synchronization and collaboration." In simple terms, I think it's being able to interact with your data anywhere you go across a number of devices. And it's a vision of the web that I really, really like. I think Adobe helps with that vision and empowers developers to help create it but Microsoft as a company singularly has the clout and the brand equity to pull it off. And Live Mesh looks like the first stab.

I don't have an invite yet so I don't know how well it works. Reviews seem mixed, but it's Microsoft, so the first version is kind of a dry run. But this is Ray's baby and it's going to be a core, core part of Microsoft. But in order to make it work, Live Mesh does have to have genuine access points across operating systems and the browser. When you're working with the web you need to be as universal as possible and even though Microsoft still has the lion's share of the market, cross platform is important to the long term success of Live Mesh. So how do you provide a very expressive, Windows-like experience across multiple platforms and operating systems? Silverlight.

I think this is going to be Silverlight's big, big driver. With Silverlight 2.0 and I assume future versions, they're trying to make it more like Windows Presentation Foundation. They're looking to support a bigger subset of the XAML and controls that WPF has. It seems like they're working very hard to bring the development experience and the UI possibilities of Windows to a cross-platform runtime. Why do that if you make all of your money on the operating system? Because Live Mesh is the future and you've got to be able to provide part of that great Windows experience (don't laugh, I love Vista) on many platforms. Live Mesh is cool because it supports so many technologies (including Flash) so it's very platform agnostic, but to appeal to Microsoft developers, they need to provide Microsoft technology and tools. Silverlight will be a great way to let those Microsoft developers quickly start building into the Live Mesh Ecosystem.

I think Live Mesh is a big, interesting step for RIAs. Creating that back end infrastructure to handle collaboration, synchronization, and the cloud means we can start building user interfaces around them. As an RIA fan boy, I'm excited to see what people build on top of Live Mesh because I think it tries to solve the right problem. We should just have access to our data. It shouldn't matter if we're in the browser, on the desktop, or on a device. That's a goal I think both Adobe and Microsoft share and I think the next couple of years are going to be great in unifying the web and getting rid of "web application" versus "browser applications". They're just going to be applications when all is said and done.

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

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  • Competition

    "the clout and the brand equity"

    What Microsoft has is money and the ability to isolate technology and exploit that to beat down competition. I don't mind that they're developing Silverlight but its important that they don't approach this the way they did with IE or .NET for example. Something tells me that is not going to happen though...
    fabian_v
  • The future core of Microsoft Lock-in

    Microsoft understands the diminishing importance of the isolated desktop operating system. With the new abundance of mobile computing devices, where Microsoft is doing poorly, and the rise in web-based applications (the "cloud"), their walled garden is showing some deep cracks.

    So what is a large monopolist to do when the basis for their monopoly is losing its legs? Why pull out their biggest and baddest weapon--Embrace and Extend.

    While Symbian and Linux entrench on the handheld devices, Microsoft is going to start seeding the cloud itself with proprietary technologies. The protocols we use in the future to tie everything together could end up being the new walled garden they're searching for. Imagine Microsoft in the middle of every calendar sync between your handheld and your home server. Every time you call up a movie to watch while waiting for a plane, Microsoft delivers it to you wrapped in their own proprietary DRM.

    Think I'm kidding? Try and watch an online movie in Netflix without Microsoft software.

    Have you seen those new Ford ads? Microsoft is going to tie your car to your cell phone and your life. Sounds cool--as long as you have Windows Mobile on that phone.
    shawn_dude
  • RE: Silverlight and the future core of Microsoft

    Silverlight is really good. It does not work on my 64 bit version of Vista, either the 32 bit or 64 bit version of IE 7. It does work on Firefox, though. I have been looking for Linux tools that are even close to the tools in the Windows world for software building and the only tools there are the TrollTech QT tools but Linux has no web tools compared to the asp.net web tools.

    But Linux is lamp or nothing. I have done several web applications using PHP but they are all pretty incomplete and take way too much time to maintain so I am back to Microsoft tools and using asp.net. Linux really does need its own dot.net initiative or to create a set of tools that are complete.
    progon
  • Wishful thinking

    [i]Live Mesh does have to have genuine access points across operating systems and the browser. When you???re working with the web you need to be as universal as possible and even though Microsoft still has the lion???s share of the market, cross platform is important to the long term success of Live Mesh.[/i]

    Two words: "Wishful thinking."
    Two more words: "Windows everywhere."

    Just because you want that to be Microsoft's direction doesn't mean that it's actually in Microsoft's best interest. The value of Microsoft's platforms increases not only with their ubiquity, but even more so with the absence of alternatives.

    Supporting competing platforms is cutting their own throats; see the famous Gates memo on file formats. As recent events have shown, Microsoft's willingness to support interoperability is strictly limited by sovereign jurisdiction.

    [i]So how do you provide a very expressive, Windows-like experience across multiple platforms and operating systems? Silverlight.[/i]

    Which, despite denials, is still only "cross-platform" to the extent that you define "multiple versions of Microsoft Windows" as "cross platform."
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Very good analysis. This is MS dancing around, trying to pretend to be open

      and at the same time, introduce things that will never be cross platform, or are only cross platform at the discretion of MS. And, MS can make billions more on something that is not really open at all compared to something that is completely open, so no real guessing as to which way MS will go. Interoperability is enemy number one at Microsoft.

      But, I think Ryan knows all of this. Somebody help me. Who is the Greek guy that was prohibited from not supporting the official line, so he gave an eloquent speech, saying everything exactly opposite of what he though? Everybody then understood his REAL message.
      DonnieBoy
    • Because it uses REST, JSON, Web Services, it can be called from many plats

      As these services can be called from many protocols, it is "open" at least in that sense
      Roque Mocan
      • Still, Silverlight applications are NOT cross platform. Using a couple of

        standards for the creation of a proprietary platform does NOT make it cross platform.
        DonnieBoy
        • That all depends on the other platforms

          ability to write good code.
          No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Error...

      In reference to Silverlight being cross platform you said:

      Which, despite denials, is still only "cross-platform" to the extent that you define "multiple versions of Microsoft Windows" as "cross platform."

      Well..not really. If you want to install Silverlight on your Mac right now, go here:

      http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/

      A version of Silverlight for Linux is being developed by Novell in cooperation with Microsoft. Details can be found here: http://www.novell.com/products/desktop/moonlight.html

      So, what do YOU mean by cross-platform?
      marksashton
  • Hmmmm... future core.

    Hmmmm... future core. Good concept, wrong company. Microsoft has a rotten core and silverlight is not going to change that...

    Silverlight would be great if done by a company that understands consumers. Microsponge has proven that they never have and never will understand consumers.

    Consumers want it easy, powerfull, dependable, secure, and enjoyable. They want a user experience that Microsoft is incapable of understandiung let alone delivering. Microsoft is about as many knobs and controls as possible, Microsoft is about controling thier customers and milking them for as much money as possible.

    Consumers want it to just work without having to fiddle with it. They want to pay for it once and then forget about it.

    There are a few companies who actually understad consumers and human nature. Microsoft is not one of them.

    Silverlight.. um... yeah right... I see a very dim future for that one.... I think that bulb is gonna burn out mighty fast.
    i8thecat
  • RE: Silverlight and the future core of Microsoft

    Silverlight is cross-platform, but will it stay that way? Remember, Microsoft always does what is in its own best interest, and its primary interest is in maintaining its dominance of the desktop os market. If Silverlight catches on, then we can be quite sure that Microsoft will at some point in the future add propriatary extensions, as it has done so many times in the past.
    Eduardo_z
    • It is not even cross platform right now. You can be sure that you will have

      problems with Silverlight on any platform other than Windows, RIGHT NOW. At any point that MS got a critical mass of adoption, the value of Silverlight working cross platform will go to zero. Actually, at that point, Silverlight working cross platform would cost MS billions. No need to guess which way things will go.
      DonnieBoy
      • Because the other platforms

        aren't keeping up.
        No_Ax_to_Grind
  • You just making it up now Donnie in desperation?

    Silverlight supports IE, Firefox and Safari on Windwos and Mac platforms. Gee that sounds like - wait for it, CROSS-PLATFORM.

    Or are you referring to the less than 1% who use one of the many and varied *nix desktops? Well luckily you have the Mono people tilting at those windmills.

    You're starting to remind me of Woodstock Donnie, when all the hippies started chanting for the rain to stop. Guess what - it didn't.
    tonymcs@...
    • Spot On.

      But you have to understand, DonnieBoy's religion demands he say these silly things.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
  • The future? I love those statements.

    I always love these broad sweeping "this is the future" statements. Though MS fans are guilty of making them alot they aren't the only ones. But when I was into MS technology and attending conferences and seminars there was always something that was the "future". And 6 to 12 months down the road the whole thing would disappear and I'd forget about it. Then a year or so later I'd see an article about how it was dropped.

    I honestly think that MS won't have a real future technolofy until the stop competing with everybody at everything. They don't leave themselves any customers on the web because they compete with the major web properties. Instead of providing the technology to empower these companies they end up with technology they have to try to showcase themselves. If they focused on the technology and actually tried to deliver quality instead of lockin-ware they could run it all.
    storm14k