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Adobe's transition to HTML5 may force Microsoft to expedite its own plans

Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) shocked the world when it announced that it would be terminating its development of Mobile Flash in order to focus its efforts on HTML5 solutions, like developer tools.  While Adobe still remains very committed to Flash on the PC -- officially at least -- the move signals a shift at the top internet multimedia firm from a proprietary standard to a standard that is at least partially open (the degree of openness depends largely on the codecs for video and audio selected in the particular flavor of HTML5).

In the wake of that announcement, reports are coming in that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) may be preparing to terminate development on its Silverlight rich multimedia platform to focus on its own HTML5 efforts.

For those unfamiliar, Silverlight is basically a would-be Flash.  Launched in 2007, the platform grew to incorporate developer tools, plugins, and support for advanced features like streaming content.  While the platform has seen modest success, it's never caught on to the extent of Flash.

Silverlight 5, the latest version of the platform, is due to land sometime this month.  But it's unclear whether any browsers outside of Microsoft Internet Explorer -- still the most used browser in the world -- will be supported.  And its equally unclear if Silverlight 6 will ever see the light of day.

While Microsoft initially pushed hard to incorporate the platform onto its diverse plethora of consumer electronics -- including the Zune HD, Windows Phone, and the Xbox 360 -- a report by Electronista cites sources as saying it has since scaled back the effort, reducing the size of the Silverlight team.


While Silverlight may indeed get the ax (Microsoft even acknowledges that HTML5 is "the future"), its legacy will live on in certain increasingly popular web technologies, like the XAML pseudo-standard.

Comments Andrew Brust, a Microsoft Regional Director and founder of Blue Badge Insights in an interview with ZDNet, "It's pretty clear to me that the principles of Silverlight, including the use of XAML as a markup language, C# and VB .NET as programming languages, a streamlined .NET CLR (Common Language Runtime) profile, packaged deployment over HTTP and a sandboxed security environment, are alive and well in the native XAML/.NET approach to developing Metro-style apps on Windows 8. It may not be not Silverlight to the letter, but it's Silverlight in spirit and natively supported by the operating system to boot."

In other words, if Silverlight is about to die, it will live on its legacy.

Sources: Electronista, ZDNet

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Windows Phone ?
By GoodBytes on 11/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: Windows Phone ?
By quiksilvr on 11/9/2011 10:05:25 PM , Rating: 4

RE: Windows Phone ?
By B3an on 11/10/2011 12:36:23 AM , Rating: 5 inferior.

Harder to make content with. Performance is worser. Coding languages are less efficient and less powerful. Developer tools are literally 10+ years behind (Adobe's HTML5 dev tool called "Edge" is where Flash was in 1998 in terms of features and capability). And the standard isn't even finalised.

MS supporting HTML5 for Metro app creation for Win 8 is a stupid move, when this OS will be running on way more mobile devices that need high performance and real coding languages to get the most out of hardware and battery life, HTML5/JavaScript is only going to drain the battery faster while at the same time performing worser. As anyone here will tell you who actually does real coding, JavaScript does not remotely begin to compare to things like .NET, C or even ActionScript. Seriously, go look at the very best HTML5 games and apps around, then compare them to the best Silverlight or Flash stuff... the difference is like comparing Windows 3.1 to Windows 8.

The web and now OS programs are going backwards and taking battery life, capabilities, and performance with it. Funny how all the HTML5 supporters are alwayas people who dont now anything about this stuff isn't it... I hope all the you HTML5 supporting morons like using basic slow and buggy apps and websites that may or may not work correctly depending on your browser, because thats what the future holds.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By gladiatorua on 11/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: Windows Phone ?
By ekv on 11/10/2011 6:18:46 AM , Rating: 3
Flash - not so much. It just started to look promising.
Blech. Adobe is crap for security, amongst other complaints.
I doubt Windows8 will be very successful.
One of the things that bothers me about MSFT is that they've got pokers in a lot of fires. If Silverlight is deprecated then that's one less poker to worry about, and from a developers perspective that helps. Of course, that means MSFT will create another poker [new and improved, etc.] that we'll have to learn and the shoot-and-cover / keep-'em-moving strategy continues.

The flip side is MSFT has a lot of pokers/fires. Meaning that PC's and even tablets aren't all that W8 addresses. Though expect to see good x86 tablets at the next CES (running W8). There are other compelling reasons, e.g. integrating numerous platforms. And other breakthrough technologies existing right now that simply aren't being marketed. I hope MSFT doesn't borrow the Apple marketing strategy [though the legal dept seems to be following suit, if you'll pardon the pun].

RE: Windows Phone ?
By Da W on 11/10/2011 9:10:52 AM , Rating: 1
Though expect to see good x86 tablets at the next CES (running W8)

Low power dual core ivy bridge tablets to be precise.
Or quad core bobcat with a killer GPU.
Any geek proud of his tegra 3 androoid tablet will wet his pants.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By curelom on 11/10/2011 11:12:12 AM , Rating: 3
x86 tablet

Windows 8 will work on ARM processors as well.

If Windows 8 won't be very successful, it will still outsell Apple computers by a long shot.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By gladiatorua on 11/11/2011 9:40:01 AM , Rating: 1
W8 for ARM will not support good old x86 apps. Big chunk of those apps support skins or can be easily modified for tablet GUI. That's a big advantage.
Look at WP7. Is it bad? No. But still it has abysmal market share.
As for PCs, I don't see that many reasons to upgrade from W7.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By ekv on 11/12/2011 4:09:56 AM , Rating: 2
W8 for ARM will not support good old x86 apps.
As stated by MSFT. Though considering there is an XP compatibility option in W7, it seems that, while the technical aspects of running x86 on another ISA are excruciating, there is a business opportunity for somebody.
As for PCs, I don't see that many reasons to upgrade from W7.
Ok, I'll bite. Let me flip your statement around a bit and ask, what are some reasons you would upgrade from W7?

RE: Windows Phone ?
By BugblatterIII on 11/10/2011 4:10:56 AM , Rating: 3
I think part of the problem has been the media's line of "HTML5 can stream video, so why do you need Flash?"

That's helpe to make the public perception that Flash is becoming irrelevant.

The media has always described Silverlight as Microsoft's Flash, so it's been tarred with the same brush. That's a shame; if it had reached Flash's penetration it could have really made an impact.

I'm a .NET guy and it would have been fantastic to be able to use it for the commercial websites I work on; however I couldn't turn away 30% of customers (or justify writing essentially a second site to cater for them).

Problem is HTML5 doesn't have sufficient penetration to replace Flash right now, and won't have for a long time to come.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By GPig on 11/10/2011 8:03:23 AM , Rating: 2
Killing the silverlight plugin for browsers is a good thing - it never got enough market penetration.

However, the XAML language is still going to be prevalent in Microsoft products through WPF (windows applications), Windows Phones silverlight implementation and the new Win 8 Metro XAML applications.

With regard to Win 8's metro apps - HTML5 and java script aren't a problem and won't run slow. They don't run in a browser, they compile in the same way the XAML/.NET apps do and run on winRT. It's no different to writing C# or VB.NET - it compiles to exactly the same MSIL code. The point is to attract web developers to program apps for Win 8 by allowing them to use the languages they already know.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By Da W on 11/10/2011 9:05:15 AM , Rating: 2
Windows 8 will run both HTML5 / Javascript and .Net code. It's not a problem to support additonal languages.

Windows phone 7 does not lift off (you can't find any in Canada right now) and my guess is it will be replaced by a striped down version of Windows 8 next year.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By Flunk on 11/9/2011 10:56:59 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft is quickly and silently replacing their Silverlight-based web widgets with HTML 5 + Javascript. It's only a matter of time until they replace everything.

I suspect that Microsoft will kill Silverlight on WP8 and replace it with the new XAML based WinRT. If they do everything right Windows Phone 7 Apps will only require a recompile to work on the new framework.

When the programming model for Windows 8 was announced it basically made the demise of Silverlight a forgone conclusion. But although it's going to die it's being replaced by a new solution that has basically the same programming model and better performance. Add that to actual quality C++ support and it's hard to find a fault with their strategy.

RE: Windows Phone ?
By kleinma on 11/10/2011 9:41:46 AM , Rating: 2
The zune software on the desktop is WPF, not silverlight. If you mean the zune software that runs on the zune, well that isn't much of a concern is it?

By Shadowmaster625 on 11/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: Good
By Ringold on 11/10/2011 11:02:29 AM , Rating: 2
I can identify the main problem there: Windows XP. "Microsuck" if I'm not mistaken gave clear, advanced warning that support was ending and winding down.

If I were still using Win95, I might expect the occasional snag when installing the latest software as well.

RE: Good
By The Raven on 11/10/2011 12:44:49 PM , Rating: 1
Though you can (rightfully) scoff at his experience, I think MS should continue to support NEW software on even their oldest OS if people are still using it.
Depite the trend, that is still a lot of people to leave hanging with regards to something that you want adopted by said masses.

It really comes down to if you think they should support the software (Silverlight) that they want to push (even on old platforms) or just require people to buy and install new OSs so they can have the ability to do something as simple as watch Netflix on their PC. We aren't talking about DX11 or anything as involved or niche as that.

RE: Good
By AerieC on 11/11/2011 1:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
Truly spoken like someone who's never worked on a software project before.

A) Forever maintaining backwards compatibility hampers forward progress. You can't do X because it would break Y in the old software.

B) For that same reason, implementing backwards compatibility is a TON of work. For every feature you want to make backwards compatible, you have to do twice the design, coding, and testing, or more (i.e. design feature x for new system, design feature x to work the same way in old system. Build feature x in new system, build feature x to work the same way in old system. Test feature x in new system, test feature x in old system, etc.).

That means that every new software package that is 100% backwards compatible costs the company roughly twice as much to make.

C) If they continue to make everything backwards compatible, there is no reason for users to upgrade. IMO, Microsoft has been damn generous about making all of their FREE shit (internet explorer, silverlight, etc.) work with their old software for, like, 10 years. You have to draw the line somewhere.

RE: Good
By The Raven on 11/11/2011 6:59:47 PM , Rating: 2
How many people are going to buy Win7 just to use Silverlight (or DX11 for that matter)?

You obviously miss my point. I do not disagree with your particulars, but my point is that, sure, go ahead and draw the line and ~50% of your customer base will not adopt the new software you are putting out there (Silverlight).

So do you want to get your customers using Silverlight and make them happy, or do you want to essentially force them to toss their working copy of XP to buy Win7 and piss them off?
IMO, Microsoft has been damn generous about making all of their FREE s*** (internet explorer, silverlight, etc.) work with their old software for, like, 10 years.
It's not generous, it's smart business to keep people on the MS teat. Otherwise they will say, " computer doesn't work anymore...I need to get a new one guess I will try Apple since Vista allegedly sucks."

I am a big fan of the quality of MS's products for the most part and can attest to the stability of XP on many, many machines. There is really nothing wrong with XP and I don't see why I have to learn a new OS just because MS needs money again. I'd rather learn to go open source if they aren't going to support their OSs for at least 10 years.

It is the relatively "1337" people out there who benefit from the leap from XP to 7. For everyone else it is just a way for MS to piss them off.

You can't ignore the large market share that XP still holds. You act as if I am saying that MS should support Silverlight on the Apple ][.

I guess it is stupid of Google to support apps on the iPhone since Android is the newer and in their opinion better OS. No, iPhone has market share that any smart person would capitalize on.

RE: Good
By Black1969ta on 11/12/2011 3:18:46 AM , Rating: 2
B) For that same reason, implementing backwards compatibility is a TON of work. For every feature you want to make backwards compatible, you have to do twice the design, coding, and testing, or more (i.e. design feature x for new system, design feature x to work the same way in old system. Build feature x in new system, build feature x to work the same way in old system. Test feature x in new system, test feature x in old system, etc.).

Not to mention the bloat that backwards compatibility brings along.
that has always been one of the arguments for iOS without the support for old systems the codebase was much smaller and thus faster/more efficient

So this article...
By aharris02 on 11/10/2011 11:57:47 AM , Rating: 3 based entirely on the speculation of tech "journalists" and "sources"?

Adobe Flash Mobile is a completely different beast from Silverlight. Microsoft's recent strategy has been to leverage Silverlight for Windows 8 & Win7 phone ports, not spearhead Silverlight as a mobile platform. To that end they were already reducing Silverlight staff

As long as Adobe still supports Flash on the desktop, I don't buy that Silverlight will be cancelled. Also, it's prudent to point out that "Silverlight is going to die!" articles seem to trend at least once every six months.

By jvillaro on 11/10/2011 1:40:47 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, Silverlight may have started like a flash wanna be, but it has evolved to be much much more. It may not be as used as flash (I think it was only installed in about a 90% of browsers worldwide) for mundane things like ads, banners and animations. But it kills flash for real apps specially business apps. It also blows away Adobe AIR and JavaFX, each of those are more akin to Silverlight than Flash and aren't really "popular" either.

I would be sad to see Silverlight "die" if it comes to it, but this always happens and I'm sure that whatever new technology MS replaces it with will be somewhat based on it and more open to standards.

Amanecera y veremos...

Netflix on Linux?
By The Raven on 11/10/2011 12:47:28 PM , Rating: 2
So does this mean that Linux will finally get Netflix??

Or does this mark the end of Netflix on the PC?? (o_O)

Another silverfish bites the dust
By schmandel on 11/10/2011 12:59:48 PM , Rating: 2
I kept waiting to miss something as a result of not installing this icky bug. It never happened. Kudos to MSFT for another content-free non-experience worth missing.

Took a few years.
By saarek on 11/10/11, Rating: -1
RE: Took a few years.
By Paj on 11/10/2011 7:26:04 AM , Rating: 2
HTML5, or any open standard for that matter, has a looooong way to go before it can do half the things Flash can.

I think Silverlight will still be useful if they repackage it as a creation tool for executables, as with AIR. Launching it as a competitor to Flash was just silly.

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