This may be the last time I can speculate on the future of Silverlight, so I thought I’d do so out loud here. (On 7/9 I start my new job as Senior Program Manager on the Silverlight team at Microsoft).
The problem for many developers with Silverlight is the “what is it?” phenomenon. And this is often expressed as “what does it compete with?” Clear favorites are “Flash” and “Flex” These are reasonable categories for the current (1.0 and 1.1) incarnations but I think the fact that Microsoft chose to call the second version, 1.1 is very interesting.
One of the complaints I hear about Silverlight is “it is unusable because it doesn’t have [Feature]
Yes. well, a couple things. First, it is a 1.x product. Second, we know that Silverlight and WPF are joined at the hip in many ways and WPF does have [Feature] so my guess is that Silverlight will have [Feature] sooner or later.
More important, the reason I was so excited by Silverlight (and the reason I took the job) is because I think this time you have to look over the horizon. If Silverlight has the potential to be an awful lot of things (and this is all sheer speculation; remember, I do not yet work at Microsoft, this is personal speculation, and I am just guessing)…
- Most of WPFdelivered via cross-platform browser
- All of WPFdelivered via cross-platform browser
- More than just WPFdelivered via cross-platform browser
- WPF+ delivered to PDAs / Phones /etc.
- WPF+ delivered to Cameras, GPS’s, and other electronics
- WPF+ delivered to new entertainment devices (Tivo? XBox? TVs?)
- WPF+ delivered to household appliances (ovens? toasters?)
- The ability to create new kinds of applications
Does Silverlight offer the opportunity to rethink how we present information? How we link information? How navigation works? What kinds of things can be interacted with? I feel limited by my own imagination; this is where time and community will come to the rescue.
A big part of why I took this new job is to work with the developer community on exploring whether Silverlight is just another (better?) way to write applications, or whether it is a way to write new kinds of applications (as Windows was to DOS).
Oh, if things go as planned, my business cards will say:
I like that a lot; it opens communication. As I said, I don’t start for another week, but feel free to respond, at the moment I’m wonderfully ignorant and happy to hear anything and everything.