Silverlight Not Dead: Silverlight 5 On The Way

Last year while working at “Monolith” I had a short email argument with some upper management folks about the future of Silverlight.  They were all in a panic that “Microsoft was abandoning Silverlight” , and this was just after they had agreed to paid a vendor huge $$$ for some internal Silverlight work.

I calmly told them that they did not need to worry, Silverlight was not going anywhere, and in fact would become a prime dev platform for Sharepoint, Windows 7 phones and might even show-up in XNA for the XBox 360.  This, apparently was some kind of blasphamy , and I was excommunicated from the email conversation immediately.

Sorry “Monolith” execs, like so many other things, you were wrong on that one too.  While the tech is certainly not a dominate force, a new version, Silverlight 5 is on it’s way.  A lot of the new features appear targeted directly at Flash and the emerging “Pad+App” market. Some of the new features include:

  • Improved H.264 decoding
  • TrickPlay for improved video playback features
  • Improved text support to create magazine style layouts
  • Support for DRM
  • GPU 3D support
  • HTML content hosted and rendered  inside a Silverlight app

What’s more, it appears that Silverlight 5 is indeed geared towards the Windows 7 phone development.   However, Microsoft is still pushing HTML5.  Earlier this week on a Microsoft sponsored blog,  Microsoft tried to untangle their strategy for both technologies:

Neither plug-ins nor standards-based approaches, however, represent the single answer to client development. In general, we know developers always want the best of everything, in a single tool, but at the same time recognize that is not a practical way to approach development. Developers need to make choices and tools will continue to evolve. We want to provide guidance and clarity, but recognize these decisions are always going to need to be made close to the code and close to the ultimate customer requirements. Today, plug-ins and standards play complementary roles, and as a practical matter there is no single technology to satisfy all the needs demanded by client development. While much has been written about a diminishing gap between the capabilities of HTML5 and capabilities provided by plug-ins, plug-ins will continue to evolve and so there will likely be a gap of some degree, and it will cyclically contract and expand. Contraction occurs as the standard specification “catches up” with the plug-in technologies, and then expands again as the next wave of innovation pushes the boundary further forward.”

Basically, they are hedging their bets.  They know Silverlight is superior to HTML5, but they need to support both technologies because the future is still very cloudy for everyone involved.

-Steve Fulton (8bitsteve)

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