HTML5? Ok, so let’s also deploy Microsoft Silverlight onto Android then…

imageAfter finishing a podcast discussing  Microsoft fumbled future developer story, has sparked a few threads in my warped perception of all things developer platforms.  Please go out on a limb with me here and let this one swirl around in the ol noggin for a moment or two (it's Friday). Let's for arguments sake state that Microsoft bets quite large on HTML5 / JavaScript as being a pull-through for net-new developers of tomorrow. It is an easy asks, as most developers on the planet can code in HTML or JavaScript without an issue per say - whether they like to or not is a different story. Assuming this is correct and assuming you have a solution where developers can conjure creations under the wing of ye olde HTML/JavaScript then my question to you all is this. Why not put Silverlight runtime on Android. I know it's been a question above most people's heads inside Microsoft as to why they shouldn't put the mutation of that which is a x-browser, x-plugin and x-device original story onto a competing phone platform? You are about to do this anyway the moment you unleash the HTML5 & JavaScript story unto the world. Developers will hack your garden walls and find ways to push out to the multiple devices so at best all you can really do as a company (Microsoft) is retain Tooling and Server Share(s). Operating system share is going to obviously tank because of a unified development platform such as the ye olde web browser on steroids - aka Windows 8 Covershow – aka Sidebar Gadgets on steriods – do you call it?. That is until you decide to fork the HTML5/JavaScript story and start introducing your own additive components to the equation that allow developers to touch deeper into the Operating Systems thus bolting down the developer base back onto your platform. Ok, so assuming that was the guess of all guesses, then why abandon.NET as a preferred approach? As now you not only have to keep the .NET oxygen flowing in a healthy direction to 6million+ .NET devs world wide - but - you also need to put in place sugar pragmatic coding trix such as JavaScript/HTML translative (is that a word?) instructions to a common language CLR???? The upside by putting Silverlight onto Android is you get to part of the two horse race - let's face it Android and iPhone have the developer markets attention more so than WP7. Enabling developers to play in both streams could energize your base more and you can potentially regain net-new developer share the other way. If you are going to give your farm away, at least fight for a good price is my thinking. The reality is this, the Silverlight teams are grabbing some pine right now, they've been benched until further notice so we are unlikely to see Silverlight move past version 5 until the dust settles on Windows 8 that is code-named Windows 8 (brilliant marketing guys, seriously, brilliant). Its' that stalling posture and that sense of "hang on this equation doesn't add up" that is ultimately causing ripples in the Light-force (ie Silverlight/WPF/WinForms etc Communities). Just my thoughts - but what do I know, its not like i use to Product Manage Silverlight...oh wait.. doH!

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  • Nah, I would say: abandon Silverlight and go for a full-fledged .net framework [client profile] 4.x on Android and iPhone. Sure, silverlight is small and lightweight yadayada but that is also the main flaw with it; it has too many crazy limitations that make it too clunky to develop real world apps against.

    If Microsoft stopped throwing good money after bad; some examples of this are: Bing, the Skype acquisition, Windows Phone 7 etc, and instead spent those money and resources on making the .net framework cross-platform (which it was once upon a time intended to be, at least according to the marketing people back in the early 2000’s) then you have a good cross-platform developer story.

    A full-blown .net FX that run on Windows, Android, Ubuntu etc, backed by the world’s best IDE would be a killer.

    Instead of running behind Google and Apple, shouting “me too, me too”, I think Microsoft should partner up with them and do what Microsoft does best.


  • Joe

    I say show some innovation. Everybody knows the shortcomings of JavaScript and HTML. Move forward. If Microsoft is intent on adopting a committee defined technology as the primary interface then get the architecture fixed:

    Establish a low-level rendering abstraction with drawing primitives (the Canvas API as a hardware abstraction layer).
    Establish a more efficient language neutral runtime engine (e.g. ECMA CLI-335) instead of JavaScript.
    Establish some core services for rendering (for HTML compatibility), text rendering, etc…
    Establish extensibility standards using custom namespaces mapping to loaded CLI assemblies, with assembly caching from well-known URLs.

    Using this low-level HAL framework you could support HTML, you could support a Silverlight like framework (with C#, DLR, control templates, complex layout behavior and other good stuff). You could even target Java into the CLI. If you squint you could even see a path for some level of Objective C/Cocoa compatibility (pointers aside).

    Similar to what Joe Hewitt was suggesting not too long ago

  • stdio

    @ KristoferA:
    agree everything except for Bing. I think Bing is getting a lot better

  • You nailed it. I’m a loyal Microsoft partner with both Android and WP7 devices, both have awesome features and in the year 2011 it could have been imagined both would support current day “standards”.

  • Devin

    If you look at the offical wish list for silverlight: That is the #1 requested feature. And they dont have to get apple’s approval like for the iphone.

    The problem is I talked with just about every Microsoft Silverlight Developer at MIX11, and they all said “IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN” (not even hey maybe we are thinking about it, just NO). So microsoft doesnt want to do this (behind closed doors they say its because they dont want to hurt WP7 sales, but really how much worse can they get?).

    I am still holding out hope for Mono team to get silverlight on android.

  • Absolutely, that’s what we need! I also agree with KristoferA, get proper .Net cross-platform framework out there.

  • What about the Mono project by Novel ❓ ❓ Open source .Net cross platform with support for iPhones and Android, Linus..etc.
    They also created Moonlight the open source Silverlight equivalent.

  • @ Coby:
    There is always the risk that Novell/Attachmate might scrap the Mono project.

    Oh wait, almost forgot … they already did.

  • @ KristoferA:
    The mono project will continue to exisit look at the article Mono Lives

  • TSloan

    It’s not rocket science….

    Microsoft, please pay whatever Android and Apple is charging to allow the Silverlight plugin to run on their devices/OSs…..

    This is crazy.

    It’s killing Microsoft tool based shops (ours for example), that want to roll out any sort of managed code solution to a broad spectrum of smart phone devices…..

    I was ALL for Silverlight prior to this mess….I loved developing with it, and you preached it was the one stop solution for smart phone development. But since it’s a no go on Android and IPads….it’s utterly useless….news flash – the mass market does not use Microsoft based phones……Android and Apple is king there….

    Pay the piper please….

  • TSloan

    Mono is ok, but it’s using older version of Silverlight SDKs correct?

  • sirius lee

    Too late for .NET. Microsoft has never ‘got’ support for other platforms. Microsoft beat IBM not by creating a better mainframe but by changing the user and developer experience. Despite this history, Microsoft did not and still cannot see that supporting other platforms does damage Windows so much as it constrains where new experiences can come from. The old playbook of taking a standard, changing it a bit and locking people in no longer works as well as it did. Windows will always be here but may no longer be the primary computing experience.

    A shame because the .NET framework is great. I love Linq and regret its absence in Java (that’s Linq, proper Linq which relies on closures and works on enumerables not the database workarounds currently available in Java).

    However, this stuff is possible in JavaScript. Also, Crockford has asserted that Node.js is just about ready for prime time. And with XulRunner, cross-platfrom fat JavaScript applications can be created. So maybe JavaScript is the future. One language running on the server, in the browser and on the desktop.

  • Fallon Massey

    What’s becoming clear is that we’re too tied to a single source.

    When Microsoft sneezes, we get pneumonia and die, and I’m getting sick of it. The sad thing is that they used to be more or less dependable, especially on the low level technology stuff.

    This fickle behavior on the client is going to cause them problems on the server, especially once the cloud becomes worth using on a regular basis.

    Is this a death rattle?

  • Paul H

    I agree. HTML/Javascript sucks. 🙂 The business I work for doesn’t care what tools I use they just want our products on Mobile devices as well as the PC. Silverlight is the best way for my team to do this but it hurts me and my credibility when we build something great but I say it doesn’t run on the ipad. Andriod is not such an issue yet but I think it will be. If Microsoft don’t support Silverlight on other platforms then I will be forced to use HTML5 and other tools which is bizarrely what I think they are trying to stop me doing by only supporting Windows and OSX.

  • Tiago

    @ KristoferA:
    Right on Kristofer, there’s no better IDE than VS, oh if it was universally compatible…, forget about all the other crap, .NET would just rule the market.

  • This classic client vs server and tools rivalry. Like other Windows client presidents before him, Sinofsky has chaffed on the dependency on a different division for their developer tool set. Now, for the first time in a long time, the windows client is free of the tyranny of Microsoft’s server and tools division. Since the web browser, HTML5, and the javascript interpreter are all in the client side of the house its easy for them to push forward with their own version of a development stack. It’s not a big leap, its just an enhancement to explorer, underneath the OS is basically unchanged from Windows 7. I think the bulk of the work in Windows 8 would be in making ARM work anyway.

    Remember Windows 95? That was cool and interesting but the client division of Microsoft only got so far until they dead ended with 98/Me. Meanwhile, the server and tools division created the NT OS that became XP. The client division had to suck it up and take the better OS from S&T under Bill Gate’s orders.

    Everything’s different now. S&T took a beating when they backed out of their first attempt at a managed OS, and then had to back track to make Vista. They spent more resources to fix Vista into Windows 7. The thing is, they know a lot now about making managed code, and I have a feeling they are still working on it. Maybe the next big server OS will be fully managed? Practice does make perfect.

    It all depends on the success of Windows 8 with customers and the developer community. If Windows client guessed correctly, then everything is fine. If it fails, there will be blood.

  • Informative, like it.

  • Ivan

    @ KristoferA:

    Silverlight works on Android, I even published the app using it, it’s in Android Market:

  • Peterolsson2000

    How? I just get to a site where I’m prompted to get Silverlight.
    I’m not asked for any password like it says in the instructions?

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