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Microsoft switches focus from Silverlight to HTML5

updated 01:40 am EDT, Sun October 31, 2010

Microsoft backs HTML5 over Silverlight

Microsoft server president Bob Muglia late this week confirmed a broader shift at the company away from Silverlight on the web and towards HTML5. Silverlight was now primarily the development platform for Windows Phone 7, but more cross-platform efforts would rely on the more universal standard. Muglia stressed to ZDNet that Silverlight would still run on Macs and (indirectly) Linux systems, but HTML5 was the only guarantee of support for the iPhone and Pad.

"HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including [the] iOS platform," he said.

Evidence of the company's switch came during the opening keynote for Microsoft's PDC event, where the company showed Internet Explorer 9 primarily running HTML5 demos. It emphasized that advanced code such as animations, effects and video would always run even on competing browsers and operating systems. IE9 would chiefly provide a better experience through hardware graphics acceleration and enable some sites that might run poorly on other platforms.

The formal backing is a symbolic blow to Adobe. Microsoft has been willing to adopt Flash and should eventually add support in WP7, but the policy upends Adobe's view that Flash is the ideal cross-platform approach to web apps. It likewise supports Apple's emphasis on HTML5 and may lead to more mobile websites optimized for HTML5, since both Apple and Microsoft are now publicly embracing the technology. Google and HP/Palm have also been advocates of HTML5 even as they have claimed mobile Flash is important.

Adobe has provided support for HTML5 and has been working on conversion tools to port Flash to the more universal format, but it has routinely maintained that Flash is used by most video sites and nearly all web games.

By Electronista Staff


  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    As dead as Flash

    First Adobe demos a Flash-to-HTML5 converter. Now Microsoft caves and joins the HTML5 bandwagon. Sure, Silverlight will be used on WP7 devices. But that's going to be a small market at best. Even after Nokia switches to WP7.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Client-side Java is the next 90's legacy to die

    Binary plugins are finally on the way out. Browsers will be able to run animations without native binary code running in plugins. Great news for users since we won't need to bother updating plugins any more.

    Unfortunately, the annoying time-wasting "animated splash pages" that bad web designers lump onto web sites to impress their clients will all still be there. And so will those banner ads that we have all been trained to ignore over the 16 years of history of the World Wide Web. They'll just be in Javascript and HTML5, and nobody will care. We'll continue to ignore it all.

    And now Java, as a client-side web technology, is not long for this earth. Yes, servlets are vital to e-commerce etc. on the server side. But when is the last time you actually saw that stupid JVM startup graphic? I haven't seen it in at least a year. And now I've un-checked "Enable Java" in Safari. I may never see again. Good riddance.

  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2004


    Shift due to security, perhaps?

    Adobe has had a bad year, eclipsing Microsoft as the source of most inherent vulnerabilities. With both Flash and Reader, it has become a cross-platform security pariah, with several high-profile zero-days and slow patching for all. It performs poorly now in its cross-platform role, and fixes to one platform are slow to trickle to the others. Among Adobe's achilles heels has been their insistence on enabling by default an insecure javascript engine in software that shouldn't really need it. They do this because it makes it easier to push feature enhancements cross-platform.

    Silverlight seemed to be all about out flashing Flash at first. Perhaps Microsoft has determined that it would be better to refocus Silverlight for one platform, before it becomes saddled with the same criticisms that Adobe and Flash are receiving now.

    By maintaining a focus on being best for one platform for sole development (WP7), the potential security holes are reduced. It can be better tuned for a single purpose.

    -- Len

  1. Geoduck

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Another One Bites the Dust

    Silverlight is ANOTHER expensive Microsoft effort that Ballmer spent a lot of money and time on that got dumped at a loss.

  1. nat

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002


    i don't buy it

    they'll soon have hooks in html5 that will only work on windows stuff. that's what they do. they do not and will not play well with others.

  1. jpellino

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999


    But but but

    Netflix swears up and down that I could't watch on a Mac until I went Intel since the only earthly way to do this was in Silverlight...

    (So how does it work so blindingly well on my iPad?)

    And nat, well, normally I'd say they'd do something like the infernal optimizing of ie /IIS but this time they might just have learned their lesson if they can kiss Silverlight goodbye and reduce the ie-specific nonsense in the same decade...

  1. facebook_Anthony

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Nov 2010


    The reports of Silverlight’s death have been gre

    HTML 5 does not replace plugins, and Microsoft certainly is not abandoning the beachhead they have worked so hard to establish : h

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