After the nearly complete disappointment of Launch 2010 Boston, I had given serious thought to not going to the MSDN Northeast Roadshow stop in Augusta, ME on Tuesday, May 11. I figured it would be little more than a regurgitation of what happened at last month’s event.
I’m glad I decided to go. What a huge difference.
In half the time, Jim O’Neil and Chris Bowen provided immeasurably more valuable and interesting information about Visual Studio 2010 and changes to Silverlight, multithreading, ASP.NET and an overview of Windows Phone 7. Here’s a recap.
Silverlight 4: Lately, listening to Microsoft describe a new Web technology brings to mind the phrase “a day late and a dollar short.” That’s certainly the case with Silverlight 4.
Admittedly, Microsoft has shifted the emphasis behind Silverlight to be less a clone of Flash and more an extension to the Web of Windows Presentation Foundation. But the “new features” O’Neil described on Tuesday were very much old technologies for Flash, and pretty much obsolete tech given HTML5.
Specifically, Silverlight 4 supports Web cams and microphones; TCP/UDP; printing; and a multiple-trust-level model that includes access to the file system, cross-domain requests and COM integration. Additionally, the XAML one writes to render Silverlight, while still different from WPF XAML, is a lot more like WPF.
Silverlight is, therefore, weaker than Flash and stronger than it at the same time. But it seems mostly moot, given that Flash itself is falling out of favor in response to the HTML5 specification’s API support for audio, video and other complex objects. Admittedly, there are things one can do in Silverlight — namely, presenting stored data and integrating existing COM components, such as text-to-speech or an interface to a proprietary business object / program — that one cannot do directly in HTML5.
That seems to me more likely to matter when making a corporate intranet or the like. I didn’t see much hope for Silverlight when it was introduced in 2007, and I still don’t see a future for it.