Update: please see the bottom of the post.
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Microsoft is in the process of turning the Titanic around. At last year’s PDC the shouted mantra was “Silverlight, Silverlight, Silverlight.” Following this year’s PDC the cry has been the exact opposite.
While Microsoft claims that they are merely ‘shifting’ the future of Silverlight and focusing more on HTML5 for cross-platform support, actions speak louder than words, and Bing Maps just made a call that is going to set the pace for the future of HTML5 across Microsoft’s internet teams.
The Bing Maps team had this to say in regards to the future of Bing ‘Bird’s Eye’ and ‘3D’ features:
The upcoming release will be just the beginning. You can expect the experience to continue to evolve and get better as we strive to make Bird’s eye available everywhere.
We have designed the new enhanced Bird’s eye with this in mind, so that the enhanced experience is accessible by users across technologies and platforms including desktop and mobile. [TNW: for example, on an iPad]
As a consequence, we are also announcing that we will be discontinuing investment in the Bing Maps 3D control plug-in. [TNW: in favor of something that will work everywhere.]
Right, now what does that mean? In short for the 3D view of Bing Maps, the company is dropping their plugin (which runs on Silverlight), and will instead bake-in its capabilities into the larger Map function of Bing using HTML5.
If you recall, we brought you news yesterday that Internet Explorer 9 is beating every other browser on the market in terms of HTML5 compliance, and now we know why Microsoft is pushing that as hard as it is, the company is planning on switching over as quickly as possible. As we noted:
If you are a developer, you recall exactly how compliant Internet Explorer used to be. This is nothing short of jaw dropping.
That Microsoft is going to shove their products onto HTML5 makes their concurrent browser push completely sensical. Developers on the other hand are not all pleased. The first comment on the blog post was scathing (excerpt):
Microsoft has become somewhat amateurish in the lifecycle management of published APIs over the last few years. The recent Muglia/Silverlight fiasco also indicates that you are becoming somewhat amateurish in your handling of entire development frameworks as well. Please strive to be more “developers, developers, developers” focused … it’s the main “momentum” you have going for you right now.
Whatever the effects, the future of development at Microsoft seems to be set.
Alright, so this post, and posts like it around the internet from ZDnet, WinRumors, and Cnet, have sparked a good deal of controversy. The problem stems from the blog post written by Bing being rather, ahem, convoluted, as it turns out. Before we get into it, here is the update from MSFT:
Update @ 3:30pm: Today’s announcement was around the end of life of the Active X-based 3D Map control and it has nothing to do with our commitment to Silverlight. We continue to invest in Silverlight functionality, which delivers the richest possible experience for our users. Specifically through our map apps that run in the browser on the PC and the Silverlight map control for Windows Phone 7 applications.
Ok, let’s get into it. What exactly is going on? To put it as blunty as possible, quoting Tom Warren: “birds eye is the biggest SL only feature of bing maps. Now … it’s [Silverlight] not required…”
To recap, the Active-X/3D change has nothing to do with Silverlight, our post was off the mark there and for that we apologize. However, Microsoft is still pulling the SL-exclusivity from Silverlight’s most important ‘hook’ in Bing Maps and letting people run it without Silverlight. Look into the future, what is going on is obvious.