Microsoft brings Silverlight – not Mono – to Linux via Intel

Yesterday I speculated about what was meant by the inclusion of Silverlight among supported runtimes for Intel’s Moblin Linux, which is being used on netbooks using the Atom processor. I had assumed it was some new development of Moonlight, Mono’s Silverlight implementation, but apparently this is not the case. Here’s what Microsoft’s Brian Goldfarb, director of the Developer Platform Group at Microsoft, said:

Microsoft and Intel announced today that the two companies have agreed to work together to bring support for Silverlight 3 to Intel’s Atom-based Mobile Internet Devices (MID). These Atom-based devices run on Windows and Moblin, an open source, Linux-based operating system targeted at Atom-based devices. In order to help bring Silverlight content to these devices, Microsoft has provided Intel with Silverlight source code and test suites, and Intel will provide Microsoft with an optimized version of Silverlight for Moblin devices that Microsoft can then redistribute to OEMs.

There are a couple of curious aspects to this. One is why Microsoft would not simply feed optimisations into the Moonlight project, which would benefit Silverlight/Moonlight on all Linux systems. Goldfarb did add:

The Silverlight for Moblin announcement is independent from Microsoft’s work with Novell on Moonlight. The Intel/Moblin effort is specifically about building great out-of-box experiences for consumers on Atom-based devices. Microsoft’s efforts with Novell remain critical as they build an open-source, compatible, and broadly available Silverlight solution for Linux.

Another is whether Intel/Microsoft are devising some way for Silverlight to run as a desktop application, rather than just as a browser plug-in. I’m hopping to clarify these points soon.

Intel has a press release here.