My Take on the Silverlight 5 Part of the MIX 11 Keynote

April 13, 2011
No Comments.

As many of you, my readers, did today I watched the MIX 11 Keynote with much interest about what the messaging around Silverlight 5 would be. Let me start out by saying that I am pretty invested in Silverlight (see my new Pluralsight course as an example of this).

I was disappointed in Silverlight being pushed back to 2nd topic on the 2nd day, but I totally get why Windows Phone 7 got the headline and they had something new to announce (remember that all of Silvelight 5 was previewed in December).

I believe in Silverlight 5; and believe in it for business application development. In fact, that’s the message that Microsoft has been pushing (and one i’ve been pushing for close to 5 years). I like the additions to Silverlight 5.  The new features wouldn’t be the features i’d pick, but I think it fills the holes in the platform really well. So the keynote has come and went, what did I think?

I didn’t like the keynote.  Period. If business application development is the big story (with media being a more minor story; or at least a smaller user base), why wasn’t it highlighted at all in the keynote. In fact, the first demo (the Blue Angels) was a consumer facing *website*. The exactly thing we’ve been told that HTML5 is the perfect match for. To add insult to injury, the presenter made a point of saying the landing page was HTML5 and using the Video tag! It’s a nice site, but its completely off message.

Next up John Papa came and showed off the 3D stack really well in a psuedo-business case and he did a good job showing off new features…but the big ticket items for business development were missing: Elevated Security changes, Elevated Security in the Browser, and Printing. No slide with them, nothing. In fact the only slides shown were the exact ones from the December firestarter.

I know this is MIX and the audience isn’t supposed to be business app developers but web guys; but that was (to quote an unnamed MS employee) “pretending MIX 11 is the same as MIX 06”. The Silverlight faithful were at the keynote and the buzz isn’t good. Hearing from developers in the hallways after the talk, I heard this more than a few times “I guess Microsoft wants me to leave Silverlight and go to HTML5”. If that’s the message, tell us plainly.  But I don’t think it is.

The bottom-line to me is that I think Silverlight continues to represent a great framework for application development and fits really well with B2B and Enterprise scenarios. But I would encourage Microsoft to be more consistent with the message and be better aware of who the audience is. They not only need to get new blood, but pushing the old blood out isn’t serving anyone.