Mink Machine

Silverlight: the artist previously known as WPF/E

Not very surprisingly, Microsoft has dropped the horrible codename “WPF/E” and chosen an easier name for their upcoming “Flash killer” technology. But I didn’t expect it to be “Silverlight”? It sounds too much like “Flash” to my ears. On the other hand, I suppose “Blue and white electromagnetic discharge” was unavailable for registration. Anyway, I’m happy that the new name lacks an “X” as well as a year number.

As we already know, Silverlight is a light-weight interface hosted by the browser for providing rich graphics and stuff. Sounds familiar? Well, I mentioned “Flash killer” for a reason. But why would we want to use Silverlight, when Flash currently has total domination with 95 % browser penetration? To be a bit cynical, one reason is “Microsoft is Microsoft” and their technology will often get a lot of followers regardless of software quality. But I also think that Flash will suffer a bit from it’s closed format. Since the content in Silverlight is represented with XAML, it will be more indexable than compiled binary Flash files. Silverlight is also scriptable with JavaScript and will feature parts of the .NET CLR.

Regarding the issue with browser penetration, I’ve got only two words to say: “Windows Update”. Silverlight will reach your computer before you even know it.

“It’s kind of ironic to see Adobe – the big design company – taking steps to move into the developer and enterprise market, where Microsoft – the developer centric company – is moving in the other direction trying to appeal to the designer crowd.”
Rick Strahl

Silverlight, Flash, WPF, Flex, Apollo… This will be a most interesting battleground in years to come.

MIX07 is coming up next week. Last year, the focus was IE7 and this year the spotlight is placed upon Silverlight. I really wish I had the time to revisit Las Vegas for this one.

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