Is Microsoft swapping Silverlight with HTML5?

1 Nov 2010

After years of pushing Silverlight, there is a school of thought rapidly emerging that makes it seem Microsoft is switching its allegiance in the direction of HTML5.

For sure, HTML5 was talked about a lot – Silverlight, Microsoft’s rival to Adobe’s Flash wasn’t. Is this by design or accident? In recent weeks, Apple was rumoured to be considering buying Adobe. By downplaying Silverlight and talking about HTLM5, perhaps this acquisition is still on the cards?

At last week’s Professional Developer Conference, Microsoft highlighted that more than 70 partners — including Twitter, Facebook, and — representing more than two-thirds of active web traffic, are building on the capabilities in Internet Explorer 9 and HTML5.

Ahead with Microsoft platform

During the keynote address, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Server and Tools Business President Bob Muglia showed how the company is advancing the Microsoft platform, spanning the PC, phone and cloud. Microsoft specifically highlighted the momentum of Windows Azure, Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9 and Windows Phone 7 and the opportunity for developers today and in the future.

“Microsoft is combining the power and reach of the cloud with both web and local device experiences,” Ballmer said. “There has never been a better time for developers to bet on Microsoft.”

The company said that since the launch of Internet Explorer 9 beta in September, there have been more than 10 million downloads, making it the fastest-adopted version of an Internet Explorer beta ever.

The company also highlighted a growing list of companies that are betting on Windows Phone 7, including PopCap Games Inc., Intuit Inc., and Facebook. Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone Marketplace will launch with more than 1,000 quality games and applications that extend the unique user interface and functionality of Windows Phone 7. The Windows Phone Marketplace will be open for application submission on 3 November.

During the keynote, Muglia said the key now is to deliver great device experiences that love the cloud. He said the rapid adoption of Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9 creates new opportunities for Windows developers, especially considering that web browsing is the No 1 activity people do on Windows 7.

The opportunity for developers to build applications for Windows has never been greater. Windows 7 topped 240 million licences in its first year, and developers will drive a wave of new Windows applications that span different platforms through HTML and JavaScript, and run on cloud platforms, such as Windows Azure.

At the PDC, Microsoft underscored its continued commitment to HTML5 and showed how developers can fuse the full hardware acceleration and site-centric design in Internet Explorer 9 to tap into the power of PC hardware, transforming their websites to feel more like native Windows applications. As part of the ongoing commitment to standards and “same mark-up” on Internet Explorer 9, the company also announced the availability of Windows Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview 6.

Apps and games

He said that the ease of application development on Windows Phone 7 has driven more than 500,00 downloads of the free Windows Phone Developer Tools to date and said many of the same skills, languages and tools used to develop cloud applications on Windows Azure have come to Windows Phone for apps and games.

The only question is where does Silverlight sit in this grand connected future?

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