Thursday, 15 September 2011

"Microsoft has Abandoned Silverlight and all other Plug-ins"

My impressions that Microsoft have long been planning to abandon Silverlight have been well-known for some time now.

It's over a year since I had a rather drunken pub conversation with a senior Silverlight Microsoftie who, to my increasing alarm, not only confirmed my own suspicions that take-up of the technology was so low as to be almost irrelevant, but that within Microsoft the Silverlight team were pretty much disbanded: with members either 'on loan' to Windows Phone, shuffled off to the 'very large' PRISM team ('although nobody really knows what they're doing or why they need such a big team') or just sat 'learning HTML5 as fast as they can'.

The double-whammy knock-out blow was the voiced opinion that Silverlight in Windows Phone, far from boosting uptake of Silverlight, was being touted internally as the reason developers weren't rushing to develop for it.

I didn't blog about it at the time because I've seen the way the circle-jerk echo chamber works (and didn't want to get my contact, who was probably more frank than he intended to be - British beer has that effect, when you're not used to it - in trouble, having already tweeted I was meeting him, so that my source would have been readily identifiable).

But after investing so much of my own time in what Microsoft had kept telling me was their 'strategic UI', and yet again finding myself 'between contracts' because of a lack of demand mainly caused by poor Microsoft marketing and lack of any real follow-through on the initial promises, I was angry.

Very angry.

So it was with a sense of relief that, 2 weeks later, I read former Silverlight product manager Scott Barnes infamous "Silverlight and WPF are dead" tweet which resulted in a shitstorm hitting the blogs and Twitter feeds, with a whole lot of hate directed at the messenger, rather than the message.

At least the message was now out in the public domain, even if the shills and fools decided to ignore it because in their blind allegiance to the marketing men they decided it couldn't possibly be true.

In fact the tweet, followed up by several industry media reports that Silverlight did indeed look like it was dead, gave Silverlight a bit of life support and something of a reprieve (at least until Bob Muglia let the cat out of the bag a few weeks later at PDC) as Microsoft realised the huge backlash that hit them and rushed forward announcement of Silverlight 5.

By the way Scott yesterday posted his latest thoughts Silverlight is Dead, Dead and Dead, which will no doubt just increase the amount of hate thrown in his general direction. Wannabe-MVPs (or real MVPs desperate for renewals) may instead want to read Doug Seven (from Telerik)'s more positive spin in his I know what you're thinking, and you're wrong blog post and learn it off by heart for when anybody puts forward the 'Silverlight is dead!' argument ;-)

Far more interesting to my mind, and the main reason I'm talking about all this stuff now, is the article infoQ have put together: Microsoft has Abandoned Silverlight and All Other Plug-ins which takes a lot of the emotion out of the heat, and makes, what is to me, a convincing argument for why Silverlight really is, to all intents and purposes, dead (although it will take some time for the message to filter through and the flailing beast to finally shuffle off into the ether).

InfoQ have published some of the best analysis material of the Microsoft Build event, and I think this latest article continues that tradition. Go read it, and then tell me they got it all wrong!

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