Silverlight Is What Might Keep Windows Relevant Beyond Windows 7


For a change, let’s not kill a technology.

There seems to be quite a debate Mary Jo started with her post on Microsoft’s Silverlight strategy. While the strategy has shifted, the blogosphere at large has inferred it wrongly.

There are two versions of this post, a long one and a concise one at the end. Silverlight started as an alternative to Flash which can now run web apps out of the browser (like Adobe AIR) and is Microsoft’s proprietary platform for Windows Phone 7 application development.

Some people (who love to write eulogies for technologies) believe that Silverlight for the browser on the desktop did not stand a chance against Flash and has no future since HTML5 will be the cure to cancer dominant choice. During PDC10, Microsoft kept emphasizing IE9’s HTML5 compatibility and the commitment to the standard. Bob Muglia said that HTML5 is a cross platform technology, the renegade was quick to write the death note for Silverlight. HTML5 is for just about everything else.

Nonetheless I shall  put forth my humble opinion, Silverlight and its ability to run applications out of the browser might just be what will help Windows remain relevant in a web dependent world. If HTML5 is for just about everything else Windows has a big problem. It has been quite a while since I came across a Windows desktop application that made me go “Wow!” Office suites are now web based, daily computing activity largely comprises of time spent on the Internet through a browser.

One can stream music, watch videos, check email, edit documents. Other than heavy duty traditional applications like Photoshop, CAD, Maya gaming etc. there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in Windows desktop applications. Windows in this case becomes less relevant as Chrome, Firefox are available on Linux and OSX. This is a problem for Microsoft, to be able to sustain the same developer interest in the desktop ecosystem. Ray Ozzie pointed out in his post that Microsoft should not remain dependent on its insanely large install base.

Chrome’s netbook OS is essentially web apps running on a computer with a browser. Quick, easy and underpowered. Windows applications can’t run on a tablet and be as useful, Silverlight apps developed for the phone however is a di9fferent story. If these apps run on the Windows desktop, Microsoft’s founding dream of Windows everywhere stays alive.

A proprietary development platform for mobile devices that expands to the desktop (in and out of the browser) will position Microsoft to maintain its dominance or at least be a formidable force.

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