Production-ready it will not be, but Mono project busy beavers expect to provide a feasibility "alpha" demonstration in about two weeks of Microsoft's recently unveiled Silverlight on Linux, says Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer platforms at Novell and the leader of the Mono project.
Silverlight is a proprietary runtime for browser-based Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), providing a subset of the animation, vector graphics, and video playback capabilities. And while Microsoft has made the use of Silverlight applications cross-platform for multiple mainstream browsers that run on Windows and Mac OS X, there was not much Linux desktop support. Not too surprising.
But because Mono has long been developing a .NET runtime for Linux, and because Silverlight is closely associated to .NET, moving the Silverlight functionality to Linux-based browsers such as Firefox should be completed by the end of 2007, said de Icaza in an interview on Friday.
What's more, de Icaza expects that Silverlight applications will also run in a non-browser fashion on Linux desktops due to the standalone canvas capabilities.
The rub on the effort is whether there is enough market uptake of Silverlight to make it a worthwhile effort, said de Icaza. The need to move the Microsoft animation and RIA applications for use on Linux will depend on how well Silverlight does in general. Time, as they say, will tell. Adobe with Flex/Flash/Apollo is on quite a streak right now. I'm going to have to learn this Flex tool, me thinks.
What's interesting to me is that developers are now getting more RIA choice, probably than ever, especially with Google Gears and its offline "software and a service" functionality. We're about as close to "write anywhere, run anywhere" as we've ever been. The winners, of course, are the end users who will get getting great applications, interfaces and RIA front ends for SOA in ever-dressier and productive forms over the next several years.