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MS Backs HTML5, Turns Down Silverlight

Boy! Talk about a hidden gem showing up in the Windows trade news. On Halloween evening, Paul Thurrott was obviously not servicing trick-or-treaters, because he posted an article at 8:55 PM that evening entitled “Microsoft Embraces HTML 5, Deemphasizes Silverlight.” This in turn cites long-time MS maven Mary Jo Foley who broke this news on  Friday in her story: “Microsoft: Our strategy with Silverlight has shifted.” She noticed that Silverlight came in for very little mention at the recent Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC: an annual developer shindig that Microsoft usually hosts in the Seattle area, PDC10 was held this year on October 28 and 29; the preceding link provides access to video recordings for most if not all of the content from this event ).

MJ caught up with Bob Muglia, the MS President who’s in charge of the MS server and tools arm, and asked him what was up with Silverlight and got the following answers (I paraphrase here, see the original for direct quotes):

  • HTML5 will be the dynamic Web technology for everything except Windows Phone: it’s the key to building pages that “…feel and run like an app or a game” (this quote from Dean Hachamovitch, MS VP in charge of Internet Explorer, during the opening PDC keynote on 10/28)
  • Silverlight remains the development platform for Windows Phone (a new version, Silverlight 5 is in the works but no timing or release info is available yet)
  • HTML(5) is a true cross-platform solution for everything else, including the Apple IOS platform

This is great news for Web developers everywhere, because it means that MS is going to support the full range of HTML5 capabilities in Internet Explorer. Because HTML is a real industry standard — albeit an emerging one, with the W3C not committed to a finished recommendation for many years to come — this should help Web site designers, developers, and even companies that build Web development tools and technologies, hew the HTML5 line with more confidence and competence than they might otherwise be able to do.

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