Silverlight huh, bit of a …hot topic..wouldn’t you say?

So.. I did a bit of a video post on it; I think it was a balanced on what my thoughts where around how the current release was dumped in what West Wing used to call “Take out the Trash Day” It still leaves you wondering though, so what is it you are missing from this entire Silverlight story as surely by now you’ve read enough rants and blog posts that centre around the notion “..but you’re a .NET developer man…pull yourself together, you have skills, you have knowledge now get back out there and make something of this Windows 8 way of life…and don’t do it for me, don’t do it for your country, do it for that little orphan named Annie, the ginge, the one who dreamed about having a parent and sang that tear jerking song – the sun will come out tomorrow... Go get em tiger” *pant* Ok, bit dramatic yes, but when I read these posts I can’t but help giggle at what I have dubbed the “orphan syndrome” whereby you have the author giving you similar speech above on how their father is going to come for them one day, you just wait and see.

The reality check.

Will you be able to take your skills to the new Windows way of life, sure, Microsoft are often lazy to execute if not at times paralyzed with fear of taking a risk – but they aren’t completely incompetent although I would favor mandatory drug testing on executives though. The numbers rubbery, but approx. 6million .NET devs exist right now hitting “Tab dot Ship” via Visual Studio so that number is your army and for them to completely abandon them is out of the question. It’s not to say they won’t shelve them when it comes to marketing spend or evangelism efforts, but they won’t just cast them aside. They will focus on HTML5, that IE 10 Metro crack needs addicts and they need to find them early and get them to double down on producing Glow in the Dark Twitter Applications that have Angry Birds built in for extra kudos. This needs to occur because this needs to entice the consumer to stop buying porn online with their credit card(s) and instead switch over to the Microsoft Windows 8 AppStore that works like ITunes AppStore but different (just like the phsycial stores but different, cause Microsoft use Oak wood instead of Birch). C# skills transference though is never really be a dramatic issue, its akin to saying “Don’t worry guys, you know Winforms, here’s WPF, Go!” … oh wait, we did that to and yeah, didn’t quite work out that well. We also tried ASP.NET with Silverlight, again, did not work out so well. This time, though its different because you have more options to choose from and just for extra added confusion, Microsoft aren’t going to confirm or deny whether technologies you have today will be around – sure they show a few strong hints here and there but to actually come out and give a Caesar style “thumbs up” vs “thumbs down” death blow – no, forget about it. Its not like they came out and formerly cancelled MIX either, the conference that let you all know what was coming out for the web and etc. etc. Sadly, Bob Mu former executive let it slip the last time that event was close by that “our strategy has changed” and then after that slip, he was never heard of again.

So what is all the fuss about?

Why is everyone getting all caught in knots about Silverlight being alive or dead, nobody’s really volunteered an exhaustive list of features that are missing right? Well maybe Uservoice but who listens to that stupid website anyway.. oops, did it again didn’t I. I think real fuss is more about the concept of patronizing the developer base with yet another executive we probably care less about talking about a technology that we still haven’t figured out why it exists over the old whilst then asking the devleopers to “trust” them and yet not confirm or deny the pre-existing technology that they originally trusted them will continue to exist. I think that’s the core fuss point, I think the PR folks are out to lunch most days and Microsoft probably need to rethink their relationship with WaggEd (the de-facto outsource PR firm) around how they are handling the messaging. In my experience, they can be quite conservative and treat the brand in many ways like it’s a Presidential campaign – cagey, artificial and lastly “good enough” but never quite “great”. Windows team will eventually turn the lights out on the current permutation of Silverlight, specifically on the Windows Phone 7 as when there is a fairly high profile leadership change out, things aren’t good internally. Something is going a miss and Andy Lee’s isn’t known internally imho for his brilliant strategic thinking, so for him to be swapped out and some other yet to be on stage for us all to ignore VP will now take his place. That to me says one thing “We have a change in strategy..err I mean tactics..” Journos and bloggers will hold your hand and reassure you that Silverlight as you know it today will continue and sure, C# and XAML still has a future but its never really been about that its more and always has been about making applications, quickly and without performance or bugs. What the fuss is all about now is do we have to re-pave an old road, where sure Silverlight/WPF have issues there’s no denying that but today, we all collectively have a fairly well rounded knowledge base in and around what they are and how to avoid them. Does that all now have to be reset? Does that mean our Google searches for answers that often get a mix between Silverlight, WPF and CTP/Beta APIs that have breaking changes get that much more polluted resulting in extra hours of wading through rants to get answers? Sadly yes. I’m a programmer and designer, I have over 9 languages under my belt and can use majority of the 3D and 2D design tooling that the planet has managed to cough up. Personally my issue has never been around learning stuff, it’s always been about learning stuff to get stuff done. Nothing personally pisses me off more is having to go backwards when we should be going forwards. Windows 8 going to HTML5.. really… that’s the answer? Does anyone not get the concept that if all browsers were equal then why make them? What’s the differentiation? Answer that question and now you are back in the game of circa late 90’s early 2000 where Browser wars an API forks were all the rage. Oh wait most of the devs that use HTML today were probably dancing to Power Ranger Intros to notice.

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  • Watching Microsoft is like watching a clutz commit suicide… it’s painful!

    I think we have to believe what they’re telling us, and read between the lines.  Doing that, they are clearly saying that they don’t know where they’re going next, or more accurately, they probably know some of it, but haven’t put it together with the marketing to form a coherent vision.

    A company that can’t definetively tell you when their premier web conference(MIX) will be is clearly lost, as planning should already have been done, what’s the deal?

    The worst scenerio is that they were waiting to download the next great Steve Jobs idea, and he went and took a dirt nap on them.

    The BOTTOM LINE is that if you read between the lines, Microsoft is saying ONE thing… The answers lie somewhere outside of Microsoft!

    It may be time to believe them!

  • Paul Mason

    I think the main thing that Microsoft is missing is the fact that there is a huge “market” for internal applications (based on .NET).  The whole Metro and App Store push, together with the sidelining of existing .NET technologies (WinForms, WPF and Silverlight) and no coherent plan for going forward is leaving a huge hole that is making a lot of people uncomfortable.  Sure, Silverlight is going to live for another 10 years – that’s probably fine for existing Silverlight projects because they’ll most likely be up for a rewrite or scrapped before 2021, but then what?  HTML5/CSS3 is still too wobbly and Microsoft’s commitment to that technology stack in 10 years time is up in the air.  For people wanting to start a new project today there’s no safe choice from Microsoft.

    The bottom line is simple – from an internal business application point of view Metro and WinRT are of no real interest in most cases, and the fact that the genuinely useful technologies are being scrapped (slowly) is leaving a hole that other vendors may (hopefully) fill.  

  • ovabus

    I think, it was: “our strategy has shifted”, actually…


  • Really.. thats your input… a correction on a quote that ……..speechless.

  • ovabus

    That’s why i put the  🙂  below the post. I was trying to mock the, infamous by now, B.M words. Sorry if it came out the other way…

  • Paul Mason

    The bottom line (to me anyway) is that Microsoft appears to be desperate to get a leg up in the mobile (phone and tablet) market and are diverting resources in that direction to the detriment of the “desktop”.  Whenever there’s a shortage of resources then the least attractive market gets the short end of the stick.  I have no idea of what the Microsoft internals are, but to me it looks like a case of the desktop technologies (WPF, Silverlight etc) being edged out to divert resources to the new best thing.  It’s not a deliberate attempt to kill them just for the sake of it, they’re simply not part of the new vision.  The problem is, Microsoft is being very shortsighted in ignoring/sidelining their existing breadwinner in favour of a market that they really don’t even have a toehold in.  The vast majority of .NET developers I know are not interesting in “Apps” of any sort in the near future – they produce desktop applications (and consider Silverlight to be a web deployed desktop platform).

  • If you want to create applications, LightSwitch (Silverlight lives!)

  • shev

    I think you are both wrong, he was misquoted to begin with.  He actually said “our strategy has shafted…..”

  • YOU SUCK.. (kidddddddddddddddding) 😉 hehehe i wasn’t offended .. i was doing a really really bad “Stewie” from Family guy impersonation..

    I suck at emotive text..i really do.

  • Ahhhhh i see what you did there..haha…ahhh…aaah….ahhh… funny…. cause..cause its shafted right..and ..and cause developers got shafte….ahhh..ahaha…ah… funny. Good show…quite good.

  • ovabus

    Ok man!! Very happy not created bad feelings here!

  • shev

    glad you liked it.  i am positively beaming with pride. i worked on that one for weeks and have waited 11 months for the right moment to use it.  its not up there with prop-comedy and sarcasm, but its what i do.

  • You played and won… well played…

  • Amit

    What exactly do you mean that ASP.NET didn’t work out well? Is it going to end up like Silverlight? I expect an honest answer from you since we cannot get it from MS.

  • As in enticing devs to stop making ASP.NET WebForms/AJAX apps and cross over to Silverlight. It just didn’t work for a lot of reasons the first being was ubiquity for the runtime was a hard convince, skill / transfer was scary for most devs (talking mostly about WebForm devs) as going from a concept like ASP.NET to MVVM/SL/WPF way of life is a bit of a mind creep. ASP.NET itself was going through some progress pains (WebForms vs MVC – still is a little) and so on.

    There are quite a lot of answers to that question, but ultimately it was because we all collectively didn’t know how to make all of the above work.. we knew we HAD to do it, but we lacked the execution brilliance to actually pull it off.

  • Right on about UserVoice,
    Although it does look like Silverlight truely peaked in Taiwan.

  • Guest

    Scott, you have a lot of great insight and many of your criticisms of MS are spot on. But what do you want to see happen? Right now you’re like the OWS crowd, all angst and no specific demands. If the goal is just to say “told ya so” as they continue to decline in relevance, okay. But that’s not particularly constructive for them or even healthy for you. So why not do a post on what you’d change tomorrow? I for one would be interested in hearing your views.  

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