Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Microsoft, HTML5, and Silverlight

Last week was the 2010 edition of Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, an always-important computer industry event which is held somewhat irregularly -- I think Microsoft's official position is that they hold it when they have something important to tell their developer partners, and when there isn't anything to say, they don't hold the event. And sometimes the conference is a full week, other times it is 3-4 days, and other times it is just 2 days long. Another interesting aspect of this year's PDC was that Microsoft held it at home, in the company's own internal conference center, rather than renting out a large commercial center in Los Angeles like they had been doing for a number of years, and encouraged developers to tune in "virtually" (by viewing real-time video coverage) if they couldn't or didn't wish to attend in person.

Anyway, they held the 2010 event last week, and while I wasn't there, I've been reading about it on the net.

The biggest murmur of excitement appeared to be related to the ongoing elevation of HTML5 and IE9 as the company's long-term web application platform of choice. I think that Mary Jo Foley's column about the Microsoft strategy seemed to be frequently mis-read; people seemed to think that her column said things that it didn't actually say. Peter-Paul Koch has a nice writeup of his take on the matter, with pointers to several Microsoft follow-up articles from Bob Muglia, and Steve Ballmer. As Koch says:

What happened is not an abandonment of Silverlight; far from it. Microsoft has big plans with it — and who knows, they might even work. What happened is that Microsoft placed HTML5 on an equal footing with Silverlight.

Oh, and this is not about desktop. Desktop is almost an afterthought. It’s about mobile.

There is a lot of activity in the mobile web application space nowadays, with Apple, Google, and Microsoft all making major pushes this year, and Oracle's Java team at least trying to stay involved as well. It's a lot for the poor developer to keep track of, especially for a guy like me, who is basically a server guy at heart, but who tries to stay up-to-date on other important technologies as much as I can.

If you haven't yet had a chance to learn about HTML 5, well, shame on you! It's long past time that you should learn about this; it's the most important thing going on in the computer world right now. Here's a great place to get started: Or move straight on to Mark Pilgrim's thorough and clear documentation at

OK, that's enough of that; back to working on that server resource management bug that's been eating at me for a week...

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