Microsoft: Silverlight still crucial for Windows Phone

Lack of direction and failure to release Silverlight 5 on time cast doubt on its relevance for Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, but one company exec states Silverlight still "the big dog" for mobile developers.

SINGAPORE--Silverlight, together with .XNA, will continue to be the development frameworks developers should focus on to create apps on the Windows Phone platform, despite the maturing of Web technologies such as HTML 5 and uncertainty over Silverlight's future direction within Microsoft.

Edmund Quek, director of developer and platform strategy at Microsoft Asia-Pacific, told ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of Nokia's Lumia launch event held here Wednesday, that Silverlight is still "the top dog" when it comes to developing apps for the Windows Phone platform.

With regard to the growing popularity of HTML5, Quek pointed to the fact that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9, which is included in the Windows Phone Mango update, is already hardware-accelerated and supports the Web specification.

Quizzed on whether HTML5 would eventually be incorporated into Microsoft's programming frameworks for mobile app development, he said no plans had been announced on this as yet.

His comments come on the back of a delay in the release of the latest version of Silverlight, which was expected to be available by November. According to a Nov. 30 report by ZDNet US, the gold version of Silverlight 5--Microsoft's browser plugin and Web, desktop and mobile development platform--was still not finalized and Redmond would disclose more information about it in "the coming weeks".

Lumia handsets in three Asian markets
At the launch event today, Nokia's vice president of sales for Southeast Asia-Pacific, Neil Gordon, revealed that the Lumia 800 and 710 handsets--the first Nokia devices powered by Windows Phone--will be made available in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan on Dec. 10. Malaysia and Indonesia will also receive the handsets in the first half of 2012, Gordon added.

In a press statement, Rachel Lashford, managing director of mobile and Asia-Pacific at Canalys, said: "Canalys believes that the introduction of the first Lumia devices, based on Windows Phone 7.5, confirms Nokia's commitment and seriousness to the platform, innovation and the company's new strategy.

"It is hugely reassuring that it is bringing two devices to market, which will be available across many highly important countries in time for the holiday season at the end of the year," Lashford  said.