This article was published on January 25, 2011

Is Microsoft gearing up for a massive internal spat at this year’s MIX?

Is Microsoft gearing up for a massive internal spat at this year’s MIX?
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

In a company as large as Microsoft, politics can play a surprisingly large role in the future of its business units. Not everything is as simple as can be deduced from only watching the surface.

We have recently had the great pleasure of watching Microsoft go through a civil war over whether HTML5 or Silverlight will have the bigger future in its products. We can confidently say that the fight is far from over. As it turns out, we are likely preparing for a very public scrap over which technology is superior, and which should be Microsoft’s favored son.

Microsoft has announced its keynote speakers for the upcoming MIX11:  Joe Belfiore from Windows Phone, and Scott Guthrie, the Silverlight boss. It was interesting to find such a prominent speaking slot for the Silverlight chief, we thought, especially after the public snubbings the product has had to endure over the past year.

However, there is much more innuendo to go around. Our friend Mary-Jo Foley uncovered two talk proposals for MIX11 that show off just how deep the HTML5/Silverlight rift runs at Microsoft.

From the description of a talk entitled “HTML5 and CSS3: The Future of the Web:”

If you develop web applications but haven’t started looking at HTML5 and CSS3, it’s time. These technologies are going to change the way web applications work in the future. Things that you used to have to use SilverLight, Flash, or custom/dynamic images for, you can now do with a single line of code.

And from a talk proposal entitled “Semantic Web with Silverlight:”

Learn how Silverlight is the only tool which can provide the key ingredients for Semantic Web, the best possible performance, richest user interface, most widespread reach, hardware support, and privacy, and how it will always be better than HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript combined.

We dug some more, and it gets even better. There is yet another talk entitled “HTML5 from our Silverlight Perspective” which takes big swings at HTML5:

Do Silverlight and HTML5 truly coexist? Contrary to popular belief there is [not] a lot of feature parity between Silverlight and HTML5. HTML5 is in it’s infancy as a technology while Silverlight is really coming into its own. There is a great opportunity for learning based on comparison.

The last one is the best, however. Called “Designer Developer Group Therapy,” the talk is a proposal for everyone to just get along:

This session is designed for both designers and developers to come together breath deep and learn to some coping skills to working with each other. In this session we will cover dev techniques for designers, App design and Blend techniques for developers, organizing a multi-disciplinary WPF/Silverlight/HTML5 project and team, and the best ways to go from comp to app with the least amount of tears. With the overall goal of helping to give a bit of a design eye to the dev guy or girl and a dev lean to the design guy or girl.

Now, these are merely proposals for talks that may or may not make it into the final MIX lineup, but that such sharp words are already being tossed around, months before the actual event makes us lick our lips in anticipation of the show which will unfold.

Still, Silverlight’s keynote slot is a coup for that half of Microsoft. Perhaps the HTML5 team will manage to worm their way into the Windows Phone 7 keynote and make a counter-splash. Either way, let the games begin.

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