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.