Letters from Readers
Readers React: Silverlight's Future
In an online Papa's Perspective column ("3 Impacts from 2011, and What They Mean Moving Forward," Jan. 20, 2012), John Papa offered his take on key changes in 2011 and wondered how the success of Kinect, lingering questions about Silverlight, and Microsoft's tight-lipped approach to Windows 8 and Windows Phone would affect the company's relationship with developers moving forward. Readers respond:
It's all about character. It's bad enough to lie, but enlisting others to lie is really sick. Software is about change, we all know that, and Microsoft should have trusted developers and told the truth. I've stopped using Silverlight and all of the Microsoft products associated with it except for Visual Studio.
I convinced my company to use Silverlight in a very important product. The investment was tremendous, including manpower and learning processes. When we were in the middle of implementation, Microsoft dropped the bomb about the future of Silverlight. I cannot describe the feelings of betrayal and frustration -- not to mention the pressure coming from the upper management team. Now we cannot go back to undo our investment. As a developer, my questions are very simple: Why did Microsoft do such a strange thing to lose the trust of developers? Why can't Microsoft simply continue supporting/advocating Silverlight and, at the same time, advocate future HTML5 as a new trend and development path? As a developer, I feel Microsoft has a lose/lose strategy ... I've stopped advocating any new technologies from Microsoft.
I don't know what else Microsoft could do. XAML is everywhere -- on the phone with Silverlight for Windows Phone, on the desktop with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), on Windows 8 Metro apps. Silverlight as a browser plug-in is still there for anyone who wants to use it. If Microsoft never updates Silverlight again I can't say I blame the company. It never really caught on like they hoped it would, and even though HTML5 is not as fully featured, it is what everyone will use because it doesn't require a plug-in and will work on all OSes (even Linux).
The "bomb" was Silverlight being pushed aside in Windows 8 in favor of some HTML-like API in Metro. No browser plug-in support sealed its fate. You might still be able to install native on Windows 8, but you could always do that with WPF anyhow. So, once Windows 8 comes out, management will soon see what developers already see coming. No new project will be Silverlight after that.
This story was written or compiled based on feedback from the readers of Visual Studio Magazine.