Microsoft’s first introduction of upcoming Windows 8 spurred lots of discussions among developers. The most noticeable part of the demonstrations at D9 conference and Computex show, as well as on YouTube, is, of course, the new touch-centric UI. So why is it controversial among developers? Let’s take a look at Microsoft’s press release:
I will be honest with you, when I first saw the Windows 8 preview, my first reaction was going to
Silverlight? What is Silverlight?
First, it was PDC 2010 conference, where Silverlight was noticeably absent in keynotes and sessions. And also comments from Bob Muglia (former President of the Server and Tools Division at Microsoft) about Silverlight that later required follow-up blog post from him to assure that Silverlight is not dead. Later Microsoft even held the “Silverlight Firestarter 2010” event as damage control for Silverlight developers so they can rest assured that the future of Silverlight is bright.
But you know what happened next? Mix 11 and again Silverlight was far from being in the spotlight at the event. What is ironical in some way, is that several Microcofties used the Silverlight Firestarter event as a big reason why Silverlight did not get that much attention at Mix 11. See the irony? An event which was meant as damage control for the lack of attention to Silverlight at PDC was the reason for the lack on information at Mix 11. Speaking of learning from previous mistakes…
Windows 8 and Silverlight
So what does Microsoft have to say about it? Let’s see. First, from Steven Sinofsky (the President of the Windows Division at Microsoft) at his Q&A session after the preview of Windows 8 at D9 conference:
Q: Where is Silverlight in all this?
A: There’s still a place for Silverlight, says Sinofsky. “The browser that we showed runs Silverlight and it will still run on the desktop.”
Are you surprised that this question was asked just a couple minutes after the demonstration of Windows 8 had been done? Me neither. But the answer speaks for itself, I do not think that I need to comment on it.
Next is Pete Brown’s (Microsoft Community Program Manager) comment on Silverlight’s forum:
As to everything else: You all saw a very small technology demo of Windows 8, and a brief press release. We're all being quiet right now because we can't comment on this. It's not because we don't care, aren't listening, have given up, or are agreeing or disagreeing with you on something. All I can say for now is to please wait until September. If we say more before then, that will be great, but there are no promises (and I'm not aware of any plans) to say more right now. I'm very sorry that there's nothing else to share at the moment. I know that answer is terrible, but it's all that we can say right now. Seriously.
I do not know what the future for Silverlight is. I do not know if it is considered as one of the important platforms inside Microsoft, or if they are slowly but surely letting it to sink into oblivion. I cannot talk about the future of Silverlight as I have no knowledge about it like anybody outside of Microsoft. What I know though, is that Microsoft is doing (and has been doing for awhile now) a very poor job communicating about Silverlight and, as a result, has irritated its developers on more than one occasion. Some might overreact or draw conclusions on anything but speculations, but it is Microsoft itself who is letting this happen. Microsoft needs to stop doing this and be more open and straightforward with its developers.