Scott Guthrie unveiled some of the features coming in Silverlight 5: You can see the full video (I saw only portions of it, due to time constraints) on Channel 9. There is also an official web page with the summary of the expected features, The Future of Microsoft Silverlight. You can read a good summary by TIm Anderson.The same announcement is also on Scott's blog. Among the various features mentioned, there is one that I found quite interesting (for my personal perspective, which is also that of a Delphi developer):
Out of Browser: Silverlight 5 builds on the out-of-browser capabilities we introduced with Silverlight 5. Out of browser applications can now create and manage child windows. Trusted out of browser applications can now also use P/Invoke capabilities to call unmanaged libraries and Win32 APIs. Enhanced group policy support enables enterprises to both lock down and open up security sandbox capabilities of Silverlight 5 applications.
Mary Jo Foley, author of the an earlier article claiming Silverlight was dead, wrote a piece that looks like a marketing brochure. Yes they changes strategy, but everything is good. She probably had to compensate for the past outrage against her. Interestingly she mentions (repeating what Microsoft states) that:
Microsoft officials said there are more than 40 new features in Silverlight 5, which deliver 70 percent of the Silverlight user community’s new-feature requests. The bulk of the coming features are focused around making Silverlight a development platform for rich media and business applications.
However, as Tim Anderson points out "The top Silverlight feature request: implement on more platforms" was completely neglected (the full version of the image above is in his blog post). Quite the opposite: Features like integration with native Win32 calls clearly position Silverlight more and more like a WinForms (and a Delphi VCL) alternative than a cross-platform browser tool. This same criticism (lack of support for other platforms) also appears in some of the comments (this is from from "ksprigg"):
I am sure all enthusiasts are pleased with the foreshadowed technological changes....BUT... in the voted wish list for SL5 the dominant aspect was more cross-platform cross-device activity from MS.
Scott's performance made little reference to what MS are actively doing to expand platform/device penetration. This great technology may be wasted if developers cannot be confident of platform/device spread.
Since I originally agreed on the "death of Silverlight" I felt it was honest to partially retract. But considering also my other recent blog post about migration from WinForms, I have the clear impression that this technology is becoming more and more tied to the Windows platform, and could become (in Microsoft's eyes) the best way to build a Windows application, including business applications. So this places Silverlight in direct competition with Delphi! I still think Delphi is superior for a native Windows client/server application, but it won't be easy to convince developers (and their managers). As Tim Anderson puts it: " the Silverlight application strategy seems focused on making it better for Windows-platform corporations. "
Also, as if and when we'll get a Delphi for the Mac, Delphi might become as cross-platform (if not even more) than Silverlight. This would be really a surprise!