Remember when Microsoft decided to kill VB6? There was a firestorm! The push back eventually led Microsoft to give up some ground on the technology. VB6 run-time would still be included in Microsoft Operating Systems but the IDE would be effectively dead and only security updates would be published to the run-timetime. In addition, the custom support option was created in such a way as to draw blood from stone! But at the end of the day, VB6 was effectively dead. Eventually, the enterprise got the picture and started the slow and painful migration.
Microsoft has received a lot of push back from their earlier Silverlight statement. There’s been a lot of ‘qualifications’ of the statement. But at the end of the day, Silverlight is not the priority. HTML 5 is is the priority! There is no gentler, politically correct, simpler way to put it. Now, here’s the question: Do you want to build critical software based on a technology that is not a priority? That is the only question that should be important to you.
Further, the sweetspot of Silverlight is Windows 7 phone. W7 Phone is dead last in the mobile phone race. This is the optimistic view. Dead last. Everything seems to hinge on WP7. If it wins the race (in which it is dead last), Silverlight will flourish. If it maintains its current position, it will take Silverlight with it. These are the sobering facts.
I can only hazard a guess that, at some point, the executives must have looked at the total spend for Silverlight and measured its returns and concluded that the resources could be better served elsewhere. That is how business decisions are made. It is the right approach. Very little else matters if you want to keep profits up. Anaemic returns on investment have to be eliminated. And, competent executives must have the discipline to follow this route. In fact, stock holders demand it.
For the record, I like Silverlight quite a lot. But, I’ve always felt that coupling Silverlight with XAML was a strategy that would be difficult to find market traction. Certainly, tooling and designers would have to be front and center to ease the painful learning curve. And for far too long, XAML via notepad was touted as the best option. I consistently maintained that this approach would be doomed because it would have sour developers from adopting the new technology. And once you get the sour bug, no amount of sweeteners will work. Not now, not later. Sure geek developers love writing XAML in notepad, but no business will pay developers to hammer out XAML in notepad. It just isn’t an efficient use of money.
As for those echo chambers pushing the glory of Silverlight, I encourage you to ALWAYS examine the source of the Silverlight message. Is it coming from someone with a vested interest in it? Or is it coming from someone who has nothing to gain from it. Then decide. In the end, there’s always a role for RIA type applications for one reason or the other. But, I believe a sure bet is to always focus on what can run in a browser without any additives. If I had a business, that’s where I place my bet. That approach will never fail. Remember, after World War III, two things will remain: Cockroaches and HTML. Act accordingly….