Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie on what has happened to Silverlight

I spoke to Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie last week, during his trip to the UK for a couple of Windows Azure events in Cambridge and London.

Guthrie is now Corporate VP Windows Azure Application Platform, a job he took up in May 2011. Before that he worked on .NET technologies including Silverlight, and I asked if he had any reflections on the subject. He was scrupulously tactful.

“In terms of looking at our XAML stack right now, if you look at some of the announcements we’ve made in terms of Windows 8, Metro, Surface, tablets and desktops, and Windows Phone, XAML is alive and well and being used for more things than ever.

“Silverlight 5 shipped after I moved on to Azure. We did an update to Silverlight 5 about a month ago. For XAML developers, and developers using Silverlight or WPF XAML technologies, there is a long roadmap ahead.”

He seemed to me to be saying that even if Silverlight is dead (nobody expects a Silverlight 6), XAML lives on.

I observed that in the new (and much improved) Windows Azure admin portal, the Silverlight UI has gone, replaced by an HTML 5 user interface.

“It’s actually HTML, it’s not HTML 5. It works with non HTML 5 browsers as well.“ he said. “That was less of a technology statement, it was more that, historically Azure had 5 or 6 admin tools that were fairly disjoint. One of the decisions we made as part of the new Azure that we’re building was, let’s have a single admin tool framework that connected everything. We decided to do it with HTML, partly because we did want to get reach on tablets like iPads and Android devices.

“It was less a technology statement, it was more that we wanted a single admin tool, and we decided to go with an HTML-based approach. We still use Silverlight for some of our admin experiences like database management tools, and for streaming and other capabilities.”

It is true that Silverlight remains in the Azure database design tool, if you use the portal. It is also used extensively in System Center 2012 – yes, I have actually installed it – and in Windows InTune.

It is as if, back in 2009 and early 2010, the memo went out: use Silverlight for everything. Then, later in 2010, the memo went out: use HTML for everything; but too late for the current generation of server admin products.

Microsoft has announced that Visual Studio LightSwitch, which generates Silverlight applications, is being revised to offer HTML applications as well. I expect this process of Silverlight removal and de-emphasis to continue over the next couple of years. Note that Microsoft’s own Windows RT does not support Silverlight (as far as I am aware), nor does Windows 8 on the Metro side.

32 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie on what has happened to Silverlight”

  1. It’s unfortuante that Microsoft has decided to abonadon Silverlight. IMHO, I think it’s the best thing out there for complex LOB apps. HTML 5 / Javascript is no match for XAML / C#. In any case, if Microsoft wants to chase “standard”, lowest common denominator solutions, then I guess we have no choice then to follow suit, although at that point there is no need to stick with Microsoft. I would have been happy to deploy Surface tablets in our company if they did anything better than an iPad (i.e. Silverlight). It looks to me like the inevitable result is that Microsoft will continue to become less relelvant.

  2. Hmm, now if only someone could come up with a Silverlight XAML to HTML5/Javascript translator/converter/compiler type product. There’s a market for it, surely.
    Or at least C# to Javascript compiler.

  3. wow this is really disgusting
    i really liked xna c#

    i have heard ugly rumors about ms
    that what is really going on is basically a revenge situation
    were the office guys have done a coup de ta
    and are now taking revenge on all the c# guys

    if this is whats happening c# may be droped by ms
    but others see the value and are picking them up directly
    namely open source and ubuntu xna is being picked up right away
    by monogame and anx opentk is hooking into win8 for metro
    mono may possibly become a better version of C# then microsofts
    so when you have a company that drops its star players
    and you have riseing stars picking up the golden eggs they are
    fumbling about what can you say about the future for them

  4. Has anyone actually ever built a working business app with Silverlight? The means for developing the UI is really kludgy and seems terribly bug ridden.

  5. The whole world is going to use HTML5. Since 1995 MS is not able to dominate the net, like they do with windows and office. IE is always too late with the latest web functionalities. Also now Firefox and Chrome are supporting more HTML5 features than IE (they even have web based chat programs). It is not more than logical that Silverlight and XAML are dead. Be aware, even Adobe is not investigating in Flash anymore, also they go to HTML5. Smartphones and Tablets are also implementing HTML5, so Steve Jobs decision not to allow Flash and Silverlight to his platforms was ahead of his time.

  6. HTML5 can’t access all of one’s local resources … so if I’m developing an application that needs to interact with all my local resources I can’t possibly use HTML5. I can if I used Silverlight 5 OOB under Trust. So no, HTML5 is NOT going to be used by the “WHOLE WORLD” as it has very real limitations.

    So long as capitalism continues to exist and we continue to have a variety of different devices to choose (from Mobile to Desktop), there will ALWAYS be a “best” technology for any specific platform. There is NEVER going to be a “unification” … it contradictions the fundamental purpose of capitalism and undermines the very reason new and improved device are produced … they compete against each other.

    Open source is about as popular to capitalism as it is to those that have tried the open source route … suicide. It’s hard enough to get an application stable and running well in a single controlled environment and you think that have a bunch more developers tossing their bits of code into a product is going help improve product stability?? Again, at no point in the history of software development has this ever happen (and I’ve been coding for 32+ years). Ironic that open source pundits somehow think they are “more free” (when all it really means is they got someone else’s buggy code for free) but are pushing for the unification of standard … a direct contradiction.

    Ask Facebook CEO how well his investment in HTML5 went … it was not a positive experience … far far from it.

    HTML5 is yet just another compromised technology that can’t possibly leverage the best of all platforms … it’s a fact demonstrated time and time again in the history of the internet. HTML5 is not “the one” — that’s reserved for Neo 😉

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