Microsoft's Silverlight damage control intensifies

Two executives say a new version of Silverlight is planned, but they back Muglia's assertion that HTML5 is a key all-device platform

More Microsoft executives are chiming in this week about the company's commitment to the Silverlight rich Internet application platform, after comments from another executive had raised questions about Silverlight's future.

Executives S. Somasegar, who is senior vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, and Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president in the division, both have gotten behind Silverlight in blog posts this week.

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The future of Silverlight had been brought into question after, in a ZDnet interview, Microsoft's Bob Muglia, president of the company's server and tools business, described a shift in strategy toward HTML5 while relegating Silverlight to Windows Phone development. Muglia later clarified his remarks, stating Silverlight is intended for capabilities not done in HTML.

Somasegar apologized for Microsoft's role in causing confusion. "I'm very proud of the work we've done in four versions of Silverlight and am very excited about the work we're doing for the next version and we have plenty more to do," Somasegar said in a blog post. Silverlight will continue on, Guthrie stressed in his blog. "We'll be sharing more details about some of the great Silverlight improvements coming in the future soon."

He also noted Microsoft's strategy shift on Silverlight. "Where our strategy has shifted since we first started working on Silverlight is that the number of Internet-connected devices out there in the world has increased significantly in the last two years (not just with phones, but also with embedded devices like TVs), and trying to get a single implementation of a runtime across all of them is no longer really practical (many of the devices are closed platforms that do not allow extensibility). This is true for any single runtime implementation -- whether it is Silverlight, Flash, Java, Cocoa, a specific HTML5 implementation, or something else," Guthrie said.

"If people want to have maximum reach across all devices then HTML will provide the broadest reach (this is true with HTML4 today -- and will eventually be true with HTML5 in the future). One of the things we as a company are working hard on is making sure we have the best browser and HTML5 implementation on Windows devices through the great work we are doing with IE9," Guthrie said.

But "this by no means should be interpreted as Silverlight not being important," Guthrie said.

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