Is Silverlight the Next Victim of HTML5?

2 minute read
Chris Knight avatar

Is Silverlight the Next Victim of HTML5?
With Adobe quitting Flash development for mobile, it looks like Microsoft could give up on Silverlight too, leaving users with no more "incompatible browser" messages and giving developers just one standard to focus on.

No Silver Cloud?

On the day that Adobe appears set to announce no more Flash for mobiles, Microsoft is not far off from launching version five of its Silverlight web platform. And, it could be the last -- with serious questions being asked about its success and relevance in the modern Web world.

Silverlight was designed for rich Internet applications and powers serious products like Netflix and some of Microsoft's own sites. However, it hasn't picked up a massive userbase and in the mobile-focused world is looking increasingly out of sync. Also, Windows 8's Metro tablet interface won't support plugins, making Silverlight partially inaccessible.

Plugins are not the future for mobile browsing

Plugins are not the future for mobile browsing

Learning Opportunities

The All-Device Future

Various rumors suggest V5.0 will be the last edition and it may even only support Internet Explorer on Windows. That will massively limit its appeal, with developers likely to move from Silverlight to other .NET and XAML tools when developing apps for Windows Phone, Windows 8 and so on. 

While HTML5 and Silverlight aren't exactly synonymous, developers are cunning folk and should be able to figure out ways to make tools that fill in for HTML5's weaknesses. Because Silverlight can be written in .NET languages, there shouldn't be too much fuss in any transition, and with its relative lack of penetration, users really won't notice that much difference. But for mobile browsers, one less annoying plugin error message has to be a good thing.

Of course, Microsoft is under a lot less pressure than Adobe, having many other areas of income, and has decades of experience in marching to its own tune. It could well maintain Silverlight 5 for several years and evolve that product into another better suited to an all-device future.

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