What happened to Silverlight?


Now that BUILD2011 is wrapping up, I’m reviewing the talks and watching some of them online via Channel 9.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend in person.  One big question that has been on my mind, and many other people’s minds too, is what was going to happen to Silverlight.  I have been largely ignoring the rumors that Microsoft was killing Silverlight and it is a dead-end technology, and sat tight waiting in anticipation for the Microsoft BUILD 2011 conference.  So I’m going through the schedule and out of the 236 sessions, not one mentions Silverlight in the title.

At this point, my concern that some of the statements that Silverlight is dead may be true… But on further analysis I find that 15 talks have XAML in their title:

Date

Session Info

Speaker

9/14/2011

Metro style apps using XAML: what you need to know

Joe Stegman

9/14/2011

Metro style apps using XAML: Make your app shine

Marco Matos

9/14/2011

Stand out with styling and animation in your XAML app

John Papa

9/14/2011

Build polished collection and list apps using XAML

Hamid Mahmood

9/15/2011

Make great touch apps using XAML

Alnur Ismail

9/15/2011

Reach all your customer’s devices with one beautiful XAML user interface

Tim Heuer

9/15/2011

Build data-driven collection and list apps using XAML

Laurence Moroney

9/15/2011

A deep dive into Visual Studio 11 Express for designing Metro style apps using XAML

Joanna Mason

9/15/2011

Build accessible Metro style apps using XAML

Alnur Ismail

9/15/2011

Integrating stunning media experiences in XAML

Marco Matos

9/15/2011

The lifetime of XAML text: from input to display through printing

Chipalo Street

9/16/2011

Windows Phone XAML apps

Jesse Liberty

9/16/2011

Tips and tricks for developing Metro style apps using XAML

Tim Heuer

9/16/2011

Unit testing your metro style apps built using XAML

Peter Provost

9/16/2011

Build world-ready Metro style apps using XAML

Tim Heuer

XAML is the foundation of Silverlight and the key to building user interfaces.  Microsoft started working on XAML over a decade ago and first released it to the public as an alpha component of the Longhorn operating system code named Avalon at the 2003 PDC.  In fact Avalon was one of the three cornerstones of the new OS (Avalon = user interface, Indigo = communication, WinFS = file system).  Well, as you may already know, Avalon evolved into XAML and Windows Presentation Framework (WPF).  Later WPF/E (E for Everywhere) evolved into Silverlight.  Indigo became Windows Communication Framework (WCF). And WinFS, the database-like file system, was dropped.  Eventually Longhorn was released after a false start as Vista on the client computers and Windows Server 2008 on the back end.

So for those of you worried about the future of Silverlight and/or WPF, the Metro SDK looks like the evolution of Silverlight.  Metro runs on Windows 8 desktops and laptops plus on the new ARM tablets.  I’m not sure how much of the code will port to Metro, only time will tell, but the skills invested in teams building Silverlight and/or WFP applications will definitely still be required for building in the new Windows interface.

About these ads

2 thoughts on “What happened to Silverlight?

  1. I don’t think there is a question that the technology is still in use, and will be supported for a long time (at least for the next 10 years). The issue is more around interoperability with other platforms. If i was a new developer, why would I spend time learning a new technology that only works on one platform when i could spend my time working on a technology that works across all of them? Microsoft’s support of html5 opens the door for developers to walk away from silverlight. And as they do this, you’ll see a shift in Microsoft’s own product direction away from it.

    well, that’s my take on it, anyway.

  2. That is a great point Christian. Silverlight can be used for many things. For example it can be used by Netflix for steaming video. This can allow developers reach a wide audience on both Mac and Windows. But also Silverlight can be used for internal corporate applications as well. It gives a rich user interface (richer than HTML) and is easier to deply than thick applicaitons. I believe that Silverlight will live on as Metro similar to the Windows Phone 7 development toolkit. For the wider audience, HTML5 will probably be the answer going forward.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s