To date, whenever anyone asked Microsoft officials when the company will deliver a version of Silverlight running on mobile phones, the answers range from a flat-out no comment, to a "real soon now/stay tuned."
Most company watchers assumed that Microsoft would make Silverlight available on Windows Mobile devices first -- and, if Microsoft still plans to pull any rabbits out of its Windows Mobile hat on October 6, launch day for Win Mobile 6.5 phones, maybe it will.
But at the Intel Developer Forum on September 23, Intel demonstrated Microsoft's Silverlight 3 running on an Atom-based Moblin device. That means Silverlight -- and not Novell's Moonlight version of it, but Microsoft's own Silverlight -- will run on mobile Linux netbooks, phones and more, as of early 2010.
Moblin is an Linux Foundation project and is an open source Linux-based system for next generation devices, primarily those based on Intel Atom hardware. Moblin can run on netbooks/PCs, phones and other mobile Internet devices, or MIDs. A beta of Moblin Version 2, optimized for nettops/netbooks, went to testers on September 23. Intel's press release today said "operating system support for Microsoft Silverlight will be expanded to include Moblin early next year."
Silverlight is Microsoft's cross-browser plug-in that works with Internet Explorer on Windows, Firefox on Windows and Linux platforms and Safari on the Mac.
Microsoft, unsurprisingly, is emphasizing that Intel is supporting Silverlight on Atom on both Windows 7 and Moblin. From a September 23 post on the official Microsoft Silverlight blog:
"Today, Intel announced at IDF (Intel Developer Forum) support for Silverlight 3 on their Atom-based devices. This collaboration is focused on enabling consumers to have a great out of the box experience for browsing the Web and we see Silverlight support as a key aspect of that.
"These Atom-based devices run Windows 7 or Moblin, which is Intel’s preferred flavor of Linux for embedded scenarios. As part of this, Silverlight will become one of the technologies supported within Intel’s Atom Developer Program. Developers can target Silverlight as a preferred client runtime and know they will get solid support on Atom-based devices."
The Silverlight blog post also made sure to throw in a mention of Moonlight, the port of Silverlight to Linux which Microsoft origially shunned and then embraced (to the point where Microsoft now uses the pronoun "we" when referring to who is doing the work there). From the post:
"We see this is a clear extension of our current efforts with Novell where we are building an open source implementation of Silverlight called 'Moonlight' that is targeted at the broad range of Linux–based PCs."
Microsoft also announced delivery of Windows Embedded 6.0 R3, which includes a custom version of Silverlight, earlier this week. But Microsoft officials said that the inclusion of Silverlight in that operating system had no implications for making Silverlight available on mobile phones.
Update: Microsoft isn't offering a whole lot of particulars about how Silverlight is being moved onto Moblin, other than reconfirming the effort uses neither Moonlight nor Mono. From a spokesperson:
"Microsoft plans to make a porting kit available to OEMs that will enable them to port Silverlight to their Moblin-based devices. Microsoft will provide Intel with Silverlight source code and test suites, and Intel will provide Microsoft with an optimized version of Silverlight for Moblin devices that Microsoft can then redistribute to OEMs. So when you get a device with Moblin, it will come with Silverlight."