Microsoft officially supports Flash’s future over Silverlights past.

In late 2008, I remember being in a strategy meeting to discuss how the ubiquity problem for Silverlight could be energized more. In that meeting we were throwing ideas around how to get Silverlight into various “forced” updates in order to combat Adobe Flash’s “98%” metric which at the time was the biggest threat to Microsoft’s web-app future(s). It was during this meeting we discussed the banning of Adobe Flash on all Microsoft owned websites (which would later take into effect via an executive order to ban Adobe Flash on all sites hosted on

Today, Microsoft is shipping Adobe Flash as part of the IE10 browser to help close the loop on the Microsoft Surface “it just works” principle (i.e. play video online etc.). However, they have not shipped Microsoft Silverlight as well, as that would probably send a mixed signal to the market.

Mixed signals like today where each developer is sitting at their cubicle wondering what exactly is Silverlight used for still and is there a future in developing application(s) for it? Despite the 20yr time support pledge from Microsoft whilst alongside the reality that the ratio of adoption from WinForms,WPF and Silverlight still outnumber Windows 8 development.

The reality is the moment Silverlight is put into IE10 and on Surface Pro; automatically developers will likely ignore / bypass the new set of Windows 8 start screen (appstore) and instead continue to develop their applications in a way that works as it would whether you had Windows 8 or Windows 7. By not adding Silverlight to the IE10 install simply places a layer of friction to this workflow and in turn probably encourages these developers to either bite down hard on the Windows 8 *ONLY* application developer workflow and/or retreat back to WPF/WinForms for the same level of development.

Failing that, they will obviously then decide to go for the “it works on all” pipedream known as HTML5/JS and use that as their development platform of choice. In doing this not only did they just cut Microsoft out of the Microsoft UX Platform adoption cycle but they may even instead opt for an alternative to their server-side delivery (doubtful but more and more folks are trying out server-side solutions like node.js).

In all directions you look at this, bottom line is the mixed signal they may refer to is filled with just utter chaos that orbits around which framework you wish to choose and how you wish to navigate all the prickly parts to the Microsoft current “broken promise” strategies on display.

In my opinion, Microsoft should continue to support Silverlight but in a way that goes beyond their comfort levels + limited imagination. Having Silverlight act as a plugin for the “old” would enable developers to bridge the gap between Windows XP, 7 and Windows8 as there is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t push out Silverlight 6 as being the XAML Runtime you find today s Windows 8.

Yes it would mean Silverlight 5 apps won’t work in Silverlight 6 but also allowing the two runtimes to be co-installed isn’t a hard thing to achieve (we even talked & spec’d this out in the early days to help with parity in runtime changes for future versions, that and removing the need to restart the browser after you installed given we used 2x process GUID instead of 1x).

By keeping Silverlight runtime in this fashion you allow developers to continue to build muscle where needed in the XAML/C# domain therefore ensuring you have continuation in the ranks around development on Microsoft platform(s).

The pipedream of simply saying to all “stop doing managed code and go for broke on HTML5/JS via our custom built solution” is just that. If you were saying to developers to opt out of the C#/XAML development story and into the HTML/JS then why would I continue to take your beatings Microsoft? Instead, if I do decide to go down this path I will look to keep it 100% neutral.

That is to say to any Microsoft staffer – YOUR AUDIENCE WILL ADOPT MAC/LINUX AND WEAR “I HATE M$ T-SHIRTS

If you’ve ever spent any time inside Microsoft you will come to know one simple thing, Microsoft internally are fierce competitors and you will constantly hear about Apple, Google & Oracle’s movements. Specifically what is being done to combat them and how “unfair” these companies are playing the game (hell look at the Twitter feed of most staffers and its obvious thing to see)?

Never go full retard.

Bottom line is that out of all the bone head tactics I have witness Microsoft perform in the last two years this by far is the biggest and stupidest tactics by far.

Good news is your XAML/C# skills are transferrable right?…anyone?….its just a namespace change guys…come back..guys….


Related Posts:

  • yes we need Silverlight on WindowsRT!

  • There are many reasons I have completely swapped from Microsoft’s UI front end. I have moved all my silverlight applications to Single Page Applications with HTML5, they out perform the Silverlight equivalent. I think they missed the boat with Silverlight, it is a shame many developers have moved on. Not just moved on from Silverlight but from microsoft completely. I think the damage they did is greater than they believe.

  • John Ayres

    It’s this kind of post that makes me so glad I jumped ship and now develop iOS products using ObjectiveC. At least now I don’t have to worry about my skills becoming outdated in two years, and for the future it looks like Apple is going to continue to simply add to iOS, as opposed to completely abandoning the platform and introducing something totally different.

  • At some point Microsoft is trying to simplify the choices the developer has to make. Sometimes, they make it too simple.

    Today, it is a choice of

    1. Develop for WinRT which only run on some Microsoft Windows machines (single digit Windows 8 market share), either

    2. Develop using cross platform tools (market share 99%)

  • Fizzelen

    My 2 year old Silverlight LOB app runs on WinXP/Vista/Win7/Win8 and Mac uisng IE(6,7,8,9,10)/FireFox/Chrome/Safari with few cross browser/OS issues that are solved with browser security settings.

    Its developed on Win7 using Visual Studio, Blend, TFS and MS SQL server
    Its hosted on Azure Cloud Services and SQL Azure

    I dont want to change, if I’m forced to change, I’m going to dump MS all together

  • D

    MS is reaping what they’ve sown – developer discord. They killed the bloggers and the good employees have left. The are working Mads to try to spin some success with “advancements” in the IDE to support standards, but VS 2012 is too damn ugly to be useful. I’m sure the replacement Scott is a great guy, but he’s nothing like the real Scott. The technology has become stagnant and they have more or less abandoned what got them where they are today. ASP.NET 5, new server controls, bueller bueller, anyone. Nothing. So devs like myself and my team are looking to jump. Big corporate wants cheaper solutions anyway and that can be had with the open source technologies which are still being updated. MS lost its way and a reset of the platform will do nothing to get devs to come back. It is no longer fashionable to be forced to learn a new language/approach because the whims of the dictating corporation behind it are the only reason to do so. Good luck to MS. It has billions in cash and that will come in handy as it searches for a way to buy back all the devs it has truly pissed off.

  • Amit

    First they f**ked with Windows
    Then they f**ked with .NET
    Now they are f**king with Visual Studio !

    They should’ve given at least ONE VALID REASON to the devs to stay with them.

  • D
  • niclas lindgren

    I wish they would do this sane thing and bring sl6 as a winrt on all platforms, but the very least give full support for what might be the best web tech out there, sl.

    I wish they would see it the way you so, they were winning the fight against adobe, they were just impatient, it takes years foe lobs to change..the dev stack is so vastly superior to html and flash that it isn’t even a fair comparison…it would probably even help win 8 adoption

  • Guest

    Great post! SIlverlight is/was a great platform from a developer standpoint. If the WPF/E visioin had been realised they could have owned the cross-application market. Obviously trying to make money on their OS is far more important for Microsoft than having a good platform for developers. This mentality will eventually dig their grave as developers will abandon Microsoft and selling an OS without any application developers will become hard. OTOH Microsoft could have made a lot of money on development tools if they had released Silverlight for Android and iOS.

  • Martin Kirk

    how’s thing going for you, 2 years later ?

    I heard that Chrome is dropping support for SL…
    My old company has begun converting SL apps into HTML5 using various frameworks. I myself have been SL developer for 6 years… today 6 months after i changed job, im doing AngularJS like a maniac :D…