Perhaps you read the news late last week or this past weekend that Microsoft is shifting their strategy when it comes to Silverlight. Essentially, they indicated that they were commited to using it as the development platform for Windows Phone, and for certain media applications (like Netflix), but for a true cross-platform strategy, they’re going to shift their focus to HTML5. That all sounds great. It makes a lot of sense.
Well, unless you’re a Silverlight developer. Then you might be a little worried and/or pissed off.
In fact, following Bob Muglia’s (Microsoft’s SVP of the Server and Tools Business) comments last week during PDC, there was a bit of an uproar in the Silverlight Forums. So it’s hardly surprising today that we have Muglia directly responding with a follow-up blog post. And perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has also issued his own post with his thoughts on PDC where he makes mention of Silverlight — 6 times in 5 paragraphs.
All of this came about be ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley noticed that Microsoft didn’t make many mentions of Silverlight, a key development tool in the making for years now, at their key developers conference. And so she asked Muglia about it. In his statement today, Muglia is quick to point out that Foley reported what he said accurately, but wants to also make it clear that he didn’t mean Silverlight is dead, just that the focus is shifting.
Reading over his comments, it does appear he’s saying basically the same thing he said last week. But instead of focusing on the key part, that Microsoft is shifting to HTML5 for their true cross-platform strategy, he focuses on what Microsoft isn’t changing in their Silverlight commitment. In other words, he completely buries the lede.
That’s fine, he probably had to do that to calm people down. But the fact remains that this is a significant shift away from Silverlight on arguably the most important platform of all: the web.
“The purpose of Silverlight has never been to replace HTML, but rather to do the things that HTML (and other technologies) can’t, and to do so in a way that’s easy for developers to use,” Muglia writes. But now he’s saying that Microsoft will be looking to HTML5 to do much of those things going forward. So again, that is a significant change in strategy.
Ballmer, meanwhile, probably added a number of those “Silverlight” references into his statement following the uproar. Silverlight. Silverlight. Silverlight. Silverlight. Silverlight. Is dead. Long live Silverlight! Or something.