Over the last week there has been a lot of confusion/concern about Silverlight that occurred from an interview given at the PDC conference last week.  A few days ago Bob Muglia (President of our Server and Tools Division) posted a blog post on the Silverlight Team blog that helped clarify what he said in the interview that caused the controversy.  You can read his post here.

Three of the things that he explicitly said in the interview (and which were reported in the article – but unfortunately lost in the public reaction to it) were:

  1. Silverlight is very important and strategic to Microsoft.
  2. We’re working hard on the next release of Silverlight, and it will continue to be cross-browser and cross-platform, and run on Windows and Mac.
  3. Silverlight is a core application development platform for Windows, and it’s the development platform for Windows Phone.

In his blog post he expanded more to discuss some of the core areas we are focusing on with Silverlight going forward:

  • Client Apps (both inside and outside the browser) – with a particular emphasis on enterprise business applications
  • Apps that run on Devices – Silverlight is now the client programming model for Windows Phone and Windows Embedded (which includes things like TVs)
  • Media Solutions – Silverlight will continue to pioneer premium media capabilities and experiences

The “strategy shift” comment he made in the interview was intended to be about us increasing our focus on the above three areas as key scenarios where we think we can really differentiate and add a ton of value with Silverlight.  These are not new areas but rather core things we’ve always focused on with Silverlight and are the primary scenarios customers use it for today.  You’ll see even more focus on these areas in future Silverlight releases.

Where our strategy has shifted since we first started working on Silverlight is that the number of Internet connected devices out there in the world has increased significantly in the last 2 years (not just with phones, but also with embedded devices like TVs), and trying to get a single implementation of a runtime across all of them is no longer really practical (many of the devices are closed platforms that do not allow extensibility).  This is true for any single runtime implementation – whether it is Silverlight, Flash, Java, Cocoa, a specific HTML5 implementation, or something else.  If people want to have maximum reach across *all* devices then HTML will provide the broadest reach (this is true with HTML4 today – and will eventually be true with HTML5 in the future).  One of the things we as a company are working hard on is making sure we have the best browser and HTML5 implementation on Windows devices through the great work we are doing with IE9.

This by no means should be interpreted as Silverlight not being important.  We all know the importance of having the richest possible experiences for key platforms and form-factors, and the value that consumers (both end-users and enterprise) attribute to it. This is not just a true statement for Microsoft platforms – but has obviously been demonstrated by many others as well (Apple being an example).  Silverlight is a strategic technology from Microsoft that enables developers to build those, and we think our investments and focus (in particular with the above three areas) provides us with an incredibly compelling and differentiated platform to do so.  We’ll be sharing more details about some of the great Silverlight improvements coming in the future soon.

Hope this helps provide some clarity – and apologies again for the confusion and angst this past week,


P.S. I have been on paternity leave the last few weeks taking care of a new baby which is why I’ve been offline recently.  My blogging/twittering will increase again shortly.