Colinizer: taking up residence in your tech brain

Wednesday May 2 2007

Blinded by Silverlight – the real technology/strategy reveal at Mix07

The about page on the mix website stated:

Exciting new Web experiences with the still-secret “Technology X”

WPF/E and its new branding of Silverlight were announced before the conference, so this secret had to be something else. Silverlight 1.0 is what we already knew. Let’s not underestimate it though – it brings all the XAML/WPF whizzy stuff that is the Flash competitor in 1.0 – it allows a lot of Flash ActionScript type developers and other javascript fans to do cool stuff and consider Microsoft.

The technology in Silverlight 1.1 was in fact the secret (as Microsoft has confirmed) – a full .NET engine (with a subset of the 3.5 .NET framework) embedded allowing all the .NET languages (and dev tools) to run cross-platform in a browser. The dynamic language runtime part also enables 4 scriptable languages to work in there along with C# and VB.NET.

But this, I believe, is just the start of a potentially brilliant strategy for Microsoft, as I’ll now explain.

Bringing .NET (and scriptable .NET) to multiple browsers and multiple operating systems is a huge deal. It really does mean that all the investments that people have made in .NET, can be leveraged in many many ways. There’s a reason that 1.1 is 4.24MB compared to the 1.34MB for 1.0. That’s an army many times bigger than ActionScripters with Expression tools providing a way to use existing Designer talents with WPF/Silverlight. Finding ActionScripters for projects is VERY hard – you can more easily find people that can do VB.NET, C#, JavaScript, not to mention being able to use people that can do IronPython or IronRuby – that’s 6 times more languages that can be used!

Silverlight 1.1 is really the hosting of this stuff in a browser with the VC1/media decoding. So if Silverlight is thought of as a subset of .NET 3.5 in a browser that brings Microsoft technology and tools to many browser and platforms (that’s going from windows apps into cross-everything in a browser) – a bridge to other platforms if you will, what happens if you reverse that once you’ve bridged the platform/browser gap, i.e. just have a plain executable application host on a Mac, Linux, etc, even without re-inflating the framework? Now you can potentially develop on Windows in .NET to create full (rich and connected enough) applications on the Mac and Linux (once this runtime is ported to that). You can even do the development on a Mac in a text editor (including in a browser as demo’d).

Microsoft is all about selling copies of Windows (and Office). If you can’t keep Mac and Linux away, then the next best thing is to bring Windows onto Mac and Linux. However, you can’t sell a Windows licenses that way, but you can get people to use technology that easily hooks up to Windows Live or MSN services that you do get revenue from!!!

So the real technology/strategy that I see Microsoft following:

  • Phase 1 – win over Adobe/Flash developers with SilverLight 1.0, bring Microsoft technology to the Mac and make Microsoft look cool. Provide Expression tools to bring the designers across since often there’s a lot of graphics with a small amount of scripting, vs. the other way around.
  • Phase 2 – bridge the divide by bringing .NET development onto Mac and Linux platforms with an army of existing developers that smothers ActionScripters, enabling users to become Windows Live services users – you did notice that Microsoft is ‘opening up’ their Live service APIs right?
  • Phase 2.5 – All those people that like non-Microsoft languages that were stuck on the server (and often, not a Microsoft server) – get them to love Microsoft now that their favourite dynamic scriptable language can now be used to build _client_ applications on multiple platforms…
  • Phase 3 – once across the bridge (cross-browser leads to true cross-platform), expand the hosting to enable rich .NET installed application development on other platforms making Microsoft technology and Windows Live services an indispensible part of the Mac and Linux experience too!

It’s bold, trojan-esque and both developers and users will lap it up.

If this isn’t the strategy, then it should be!

Silverlight WAS the whole keynote practically, and there’s been coverage of very little else (except about DLR) out of Mix. Nothing about Xbox-Windows links for Xbox Live from Robbie Bach (just a snooze-athon discussion and some iffy demos). Nothing about Live ID CardSpace cards or opening up Live ID to web site publishers like Passport.

This technology is the sleeper slow-release hit of Mix07. They didn’t even officially say this was the secret Technology X listed on the about page.

If what I’ve said is Ray Ozzie’s undeclared strategy, then he is indeed doing a fantastic job (despite his apparent lack of blogging and public comments). If it wasn’t his strategy then either he should make it the strategy or let it just fall into place as I believe it will – either way he’ll look like a genius…

We are living in a Microsoft world again…

Be sure to check out my other mix07 coverage.

About these ads

8 Comments

  1. This feels a little like an abusive relationship. Can we trust Microsoft this time around? Or is this just another attempt to crush competition by introducing pseudo cross platform support only to drop it as soon as certain amount of market share was won… people seem to have a very short term memory.

    I’d love to believe them but after having been so blatently lied to many times trust just doesn’t seem to come easy when it comes to Microsoft.

    Comment by TOM — Thursday May 3 2007 @ 0:52

  2. It does look like one of the more sincere attemtps. If you believe that it will provide a win to end users and a win to developers from different language camps, browser camps and platform camps, and that happens to some extent for a while, then perhaps it’s a step forward overall.

    Comment by colinizer — Thursday May 3 2007 @ 2:50

  3. You don’t have to trust Microsoft Tom. Trust Scott Gutherie. Trust Ray. Trust the people behind it, because afterall, the organization is the people, isn’t it?

    Comment by Yuvi — Thursday May 3 2007 @ 5:09

  4. […] Blinded by Silverlight – the real technology/strategy reveal at Mix07 A must read! […]

    Pingback by Some Silverlight links at Virtual Generations — Thursday May 3 2007 @ 9:30

  5. […] Blinded by Silverlight – the real technology/strategy reveal at Mix07 « Colinizer – tech geek insid… (tags: silverlight ria mix07 clr dlr) Share This […]

    Pingback by People Over Process » Blog Archive » links for 2007-05-15 — Tuesday May 15 2007 @ 7:28

  6. There is no Linux support for Silverlight.

    Comment by Tom — Sunday May 20 2007 @ 1:17

  7. Never said there was.

    Comment by colinizer — Sunday May 20 2007 @ 5:22

  8. And I don’t think it needs to be.

    Comment by Yuvi — Wednesday May 23 2007 @ 11:42


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Theme: Shocking Blue Green. Get a free blog at WordPress.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: