Could Silverlight be Microsoft's next app for Android?

Microsoft released its first application for the Android mobile operating system this week: The Microsoft Tag Reader. Might Silverlight be Microsoft's next Android app?

Microsoft released its first application for the Android mobile operating system this week: The Microsoft Tag mobile barcoding reader. Might Silverlight be Microsoft's next Android app?

The move makes sense. Microsoft officials have been hinting since 2008 that Microsoft was considering supporting the Android platform. One report last summer noted that Microsoft had a version of Silverlight for Google Android in beta (though I haven't found anyone claiming to have such a beta). Silverlight already works with Google's Chrome browser, though "official" support arrives with Silverlight 4, which is due out in the first half of this year.

If Microsoft really does want to make Silverlight a cross-platform solution, wouldn't a Silverlight port to Android be a no-brainer? And given Microsoft's Mix 10 conference -- the company's biggest showcase for Silverlight -- kicks off on March 15, could there be some news on the Silverlight on Android front coming?

I asked Microsoft officials about it and was told (via a spokesperson): "Silverlight does not run on Android today. Microsoft is committed to providing support for multiple mobile devices, but we haven’t announced a specific roadmap at this time."

Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said he hadn't heard about an imminent Silverlight for Android announcement, but noted that such a move wouldn't be too surprising.

"The Silverlight mobile story has been promised, but not disclosed and it is long overdue since Silverlight was originally intended to be available on any platform," said Sanfilippo. "Microsoft can’t limit Silverlight mobile to just Windows Phone if it wants to become a serious RIA (rich Internet application) contender on devices, so Android (and iPhone and BlackBerry) can’t be ignored. Technically, I don’t see why Silverlight on Android wouldn’t be possible if Microsoft commits the resources, although I would not be surprised if not every Silverlight feature is available on Android devices (in the same manner that Windows gets better Silverlight support than Mac)."

Silverlight already is available still not available on Windows Mobile 6.x mobile phones. Microsoft officials have said it will be available on Windows Phone 7 devices  (and is expected to be key to the Windows Phone 7 development story). Microsoft execs have shown demos of Silverlight streaming on the iPhone, but not offered a delivery timetable for Silverlight on the iPhone, . And Microsoft and Nokia announced in 2008 plans to make Silverlight available on Symbian-based Nokia phones.

"Flash 10.1 is in beta now with Android support, although possibly not on every Android device," Sanfilippo noted. "It is likely Microsoft will aim to at least match Flash’s support of Android."

The Mono team is working on MonoDroid, a port of Mono, an open-source implementation of .Net,  to Android. And this week, the Mono backers managed to get Moonlight -- Novell's implementation of Silverlight for Linux -- to run on Chrome.

Anyone have any more details (or guesses) on when Silverlight might be available for Android?


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