December 3, 2010

Silverlight 5... for Windows?

Scott Guthrie unveiled some of the features coming in Silverlight 5 and it seems the technology is becoming more tied to the Windows platform than to the web and the cross-platform world it was originally targeting.

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 SilverlightYou 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!




Silverlight 5... for Windows? 

So it's Silverlight for Windows, and Html5 for cross-
Comment by Tor Helland on December 3, 10:38

Silverlight 5... for Windows? 

  that's how I understand it. 
Comment by Marco Cantu [] on December 3, 13:48

Silverlight 5... for Windows? 

the post's url says 'widows' not 'windows'.
Comment by Mark on December 3, 15:45

Silverlight 5... for Windows? 

  good catch, but I cannot fix it, as this is also the 
blog post ID. 
Comment by Marco Cantu [] on December 3, 15:54

Apple's lesson 

It looks MS has learnt the lessons from Apple's 
iPhone/iPad applications: tie them as much as you can 
to your own systems. If people need that application, 
they will be forced to buy your platforms, and 
developers should have a hard time to move them on 
others. So why MS should allow Silverlight 
application to run on iPhones and Androids? People 
may not like or not, developers may ask for "cross 
platform support", but I am afraid we will see in the 
future more and more "lock in". Why? Because with 
Apple worked and allowed it to earn a lot of money. 
Competitore will try to play using the same book.
Comment by Luigi D. Sandon on December 3, 16:59

Silverlight 5... for Windows? 

Are you really surprised by this move? The whole out of 
browser experience and little focus on WPF was about 
moving towards merging SL with WPF. 

Many of us that talked about SL as a dead technology, 
have referred it to the web, and in that sense nothing 
has changed. 

Comment by Hadi Hariri [] on December 3, 18:16

Silverlight 5... for Windows? 

>> but I am afraid we will see in the 
future more and more "lock in".
We have never seen sthg. different but "we" were part 
of the lock in and too the "enthusiastic" we can do it 
on Windows too ... now we are out:). That's the fact. 
They have all together now ... from DB drivers, 
Services ... for their league ..., something for the 
Desktop, sthg. like Flash and something for the Web 
and both together.

We will see but I agree with LDS ... the lockin is 
here ... the moment MS have what they want ... they 
play their game ... and when they need something they 
are cuddly. Currently the want their ECO System to pay 
their bills and less the end customer (called Azure) 
... and Partners.

And .net has all you need. It is just matter of memory 
... and Notebooks are up to 4GB adn 6GB and in 2 or 3 
years ... the memory footprint of WPF no one cares.

Delphi is Superbase for System Hackers ... but 
honestly fairly a thing a CIO will decide on when he 
can have a stack for new things.
Comment by Michael Thuma on December 3, 20:08

Silverlight 5... for Windows? 

>>can have a stack for new things.
While I personally don't belive it is wise. This is a 
different story.

It will not harm Delphi, because when we go beyond 
little ... the big vendor like SAP, yes they use 
Silverlight but they dont write Line Of Business Apps 
they have there own Islands (Flash and Silverlight 
Islands) on their own protocols... So this WCF over 
HTTP + Silverlight and we have a Desktop app in a 
Sandbox ... This is very much the same the Active 
Forms have been from the idea ... for sure evolved.

As long as people write Software in Delphi there is 
still enough room left. We have seen this in the area 
of SAP ... SAP is "good" because it has 80% 
implemented while the last 20% take forever ... 
Whatever a technology does and however it tries to 
provide efficient development - it cannot compete 
existing solutions that are subject to customization.

Honestly the question is not does SL impact Delphi 
native the question is how can we do things better 
with Prism in this corner and where can things be 
Comment by Michael Thuma on December 4, 09:10

Microsoft Tells What's Next for C++ 

Maybe a bit off-topic ... but MS also prepare us for C++ 
... BTW, you can find some interesting comments (at 
least about the help "improvements")

Microsoft Tells What's Next for C++ @ Visual C++ Team 

Comment by Ciprian Popa on December 5, 19:30

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