Did Microsoft Dump Silverlight With Windows 8?


So once again, we have the Silverlight is dead debate raging on with developers writing open letters in blood (metaphorically) as if their reason for living walked out on them with someone else leaving them with nothing but the darkness of night with only the moon as their hope of (silver)light. Poetic much? Anyway, I have written in the past about Silverlight being Microsoft’s next generation proprietary development platform and I still believe it is.

The reason why we’re having this discussion is because Steven Sinofsky did not mention Silverlight or WPF instead said HTML5 and JavaScript will be the platforms of choice for the rich Windows 8 apps. To be clear, he was referring to the tablet interface. If only the pundits understood that Windows 8 will have two UIs, web crawlers would’ve had less crap to scan. Back to Silverlight, in my opinion this was Microsoft’s way of telling the new college grads that using those snazzy new tools for HTML5 and JS you can still create apps for Windows. It goes beyond that, by highlighting HTML5/JS for Windows 8, Microsoft is piggybacking on Steve Jobs’ open rhetoric at the same time they are able to pull of a brilliant PR stunt saving Internet Explorer from some of the bad reputation.

With IE not in the discussions, web developers will be interested in coming up with projects for Windows 8 which in turn (and hopefully) will work well on Internet Explorer too. Google and Mozilla have been talking about HTML5, now suddenly, the apps for browsers are apps for the OS. This even bites the sting out of Chrome OS since Windows 8 for tablet can switch between this web world and traditional Windows!

The All Things D and Computex demos were targeted towards tablets, now if Microsoft were to start their come-back with words like Silverlight that most of the cynical pundits believe is still a Flash competing browser plugin, Microsoft would’ve been trashed. What now is restricted  to, “Oh Windows is doomed since it has Windows” would’ve been more about how unpopular Silverlight is and how Microsoft is dead for considering a dead browser plugin; not that they aren’t claiming the death of Microsoft even now, but you get the point. So, all in all, Silverlight isn’t going anywhere even if Scott Gutherie has. Silverlight has matured into a platform and it was time for Microsoft to focus on the third Windows – Azure.

I’d suggest, sit back and relax. In the grand scheme of things I don’t see Microsoft dumping Silverlight. They want to get the new in-vogue web devs onto IE & Windows, which they certainly did by catching everyone’s attention.

Update: Mary Jo has some good insight on the topic.