Microsoft’s Silverlight is to websites and web development as the iPhone is to cellphones and PDAs. There it is, I’ve said it.
Many commentators have focussed heavily on Microsoft’s battle for OOXML (Open XML) and the threat of online-based office application suites like Google Docs & Spreadsheets. These are, of course, important, but I would guess that there is a bigger story lurking somewhere under the water.
Regarding the recent release of Silverlight, Industry heavyweight Michael Arrington said it makes Flash/Flex look like an absolute toy, while fellow Tech blogger Pete Cashmore points to this demo of Silverlight in action, adding that it looks amazing and is great news for consumers. Another example of Silverlight in action is Microsoft’s search engine, Tafiti.
Similar to my thoughts on the iPhone, Silverlight is not going to change the world, however, like the iPhone, it has opened up the door to new possibilities. Silverlight is a cross platform, cross browser plug-in that will deliver next generation Internet applications and user experiences. It has been deeply incorporated into the Live.com software-as-a-service offering, and the significance of that partnership should not be ignored. Microsoft has an amazing vision, and a unique ability to take seemingly unrelated, individual tools and have them work more effectively in tandem. It shouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination that, with Silverlight, Office, and OOXML, Microsoft is laying the foundation for an online-based suite of office applications that run on the Silverlight platform. Having seen significant growth from the latest installment of Office (Office 2007), this would seem like the obvious next step in development, and a perfect way to help promote adoption of Silverlight while fending off attacks from companies, like Google, trying to cut into Microsoft’s $16Billion a year (Microsoft Business Division) bread and butter, Microsoft Office.
Regardless of that prediction, Silverlight is as important to web development and the online community as the iPhone has been to cellphones and PDAs.