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Summary:

While Apple and Adobe bicker over whether HTML5 or Flash is the best platform for delivery of video, games and other interactive applications, Silverlight gets nary a mention — even from its own team. And Microsoft itself is moving to HTML5 for many of its products.

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With the introduction of the iPad, a lot has been made about the future of HTML5 — and just as much ink has been spilled on whether or not its adoption means that Adobe’s Flash is dead. But what about that other rich Internet application platform — you know, the one that was built and (until recently) backed by Microsoft?

While Apple and Adobe bicker over whether HTML5 or Flash is the best platform for delivery of video, games and other interactive applications, Silverlight gets nary a mention — even from its own team. And Microsoft itself has increasingly moved to HTML5 for new interactive applications in its products.

Earlier this week, Microsoft showed off the latest version of Internet Explorer 9 — and its use of HTML5 and web standards for interactive applications was a big part of the story. In fact, Microsoft will be leveraging HTML5 for the latest version of its Bing search engine, and using the new web standard for interactive, moving backgrounds.

It’s not just in its browser and search properties that Microsoft is opening up to HTML5; Microsoft also conceded to making the web standard available for video delivered to its Xbox 360 gaming console, in an effort to ease the trouble content companies had in bringing live streaming to the platform. Microsoft previously required content providers to use its proprietary Smooth Streaming technology for video delivery, but now will allow ESPN3 and others to stream using HTML5.

Eighteen months ago, Silverlight seemed like a viable alternative to Flash for video delivery, interactive pages and enterprise applications. In fact, Microsoft was way ahead of Adobe by adding many video-related features to its plugin — like support for H.264, HTTP and adaptive bit rate streaming, all of which were introduced to Flash 12-18 months after they were available through Silverlight.

But things got all wonky with the introduction of the iPad and Steve Jobs’ insistence that the tablet support video and interactive applications through web standards like HTML5 rather than through plugins like Flash or Silverlight. Now the choice for developers is not necessarily between Flash and Silverlight but between Flash and HTML5.

Microsoft says it is still developing the Silverlight technology, and Silverlight will be a key part of delivering interactive apps on Windows Phone 7 mobile devices. But outside of its mobile platform — which, let’s face it, can’t compete with Apple iOS or Android devices — Microsoft seems to be abandoning Silverlight in lieu of HTML5.

For Microsoft the embrace of open standards may be surprising, especially in light of its history in pushing proprietary technology instead. But in doing so, it’s leaving Silverlight in the dust.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: HTML5’s a Game-Changer for Web Apps (subscription required)

  1. How much did it have to lose?

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  2. I find it amusing that so many people are rushing to declare Siliverlight is dead. You say Microsoft “seems” to be abandoning it while Scott Guthrie says they “have 200+ engineers right now working on upcoming releases of SL and WPF – which is a heck of a lot”. Sure HTML5 is going to be wonderful some day but I wonder exactly when we will be able to develop a web application using HTML5 and Javascript as easily as we can develop one in Silverlight? I’m not going to hold my breath for that.

    I haven’t used Flash for Rich Internet Applications but I have developed Silverlight sites and I can say that with the release of Silverlight 4 we can now pretty much do everything you might want in a web application.

    I’m hoping Microsoft will continue to make sure Silverlight provides cross-platform support. If Microsoft can target the Android operating system with Silverlight then there would be a real strong incentive to use it.

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  3. This article reminds me of the reporting from the students writing the local college newspaper… poorly written, and not backed up with actual facts. This is just an opinion piece trying to pass for news. If you’re going to make statements like they are fact, back it up. I’m willing to be the author has not actually written apps in any of these technologies. I have/do and SL kicks HTML5 and Flash both to the curb in so many ways it’s not funny.

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  4. This is click bate.

    It is quite amusing to see all these Media writers write about these technologies when they have no idea what they are talking about. And choose to believe the propaganda coming from whomever they are in bed with.

    Silverlight is a fantastic technology and nothing will stop it from moving forward. So is Flash. HTML5, is a nice technology by committee that will be usable but always the true developers, “Oh if I have to” choice.

    Lets put it in something simple that you Bloggers can understand…

    If free is so good and it should blow away all other competition, then why is Linux not the dominant OS platform???

    Well, for similar reasons, the above NOT happening is mirrored for exactly why HTML5 will also be as dominant as you guys like to point out to us.

    Single vision implementation has big pluses.

    Flash/Flex platform is good, but reasonably old so has quite a bit of baggage.
    Silverlight is the newest and he less baggage and the most modern implementation, taking advantage of all the learning from past technologies like Flash/HTML/SVG. It also does not have to cater for backward comparability. (The biggest issue with Flash and why it is most likely not as stable as we would like)

    HTML5, made up of a gupe of CSS, Javascript, SVG, etc….
    Ok, it technically can do the job but its a dogs breakfast of technology whose purposes are wide and overly complicated.

    HTML5, is a solution, but not the elegant, fast, cheap solution. And at the end of they day, Money decides, not idealistic morons or Industry promoters.

    Still, Video wise, for non premium content, it will rule.

    But for real applications developers doing specific apps for specific reasons, HTML5 will loose. It simply is not cost effective.

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    1. I truly believe in FREE! ( I meet Chris Anderson last month btw, I started to read about 10 years ago also)

      but this statement :
      “If free is so good and it should blow away all other competition, then why is Linux not the dominant OS platform??? ”

      If you take on the http server arena, no doub Apache hit the mark, and if take the very important mobile OS Arena, I think Android (based on Linux OS) hit the mark and will left the other behind… so your point is not so for real.
      Martin

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    2. I truly believe in FREE! ( I met Chris Anderson last month btw, and I started to read about the issue more than 10 years ago also)

      but this statement :
      “If free is so good and it should blow away all other competition, then why is Linux not the dominant OS platform??? ”

      If you take on the http server arena, no doub Apache hit the mark, and if take the very important mobile OS Arena, I think Android (based on Linux OS) hit the mark and will left the other behind… so your point is not so for real.
      Martin

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  5. Point 1 : XP wont be getting IE9 and XP > 60% across total desktops…

    Point 2 : HTML5 > 3+ years to reach Silverlights install base (60% +). And im guessing it will take HTML5 >5 years to come close to flashs ubiquity

    Point 3 : Not all implementations of HTML5 will be equal, IE9′s will be different to FF’s/Chromes/Operas. One only needs to look at how each are implementing Hardware accelleration!

    Point 4 : HTML5 won’t have the majority of designers on board that will drive the truely rich experiences. They know that Silverlight/WPF/Flash/Flex is where the experience is at! At best you’ll get cute HTML5 apps the best will be reserved for SL/FL

    Point 5 : Tooling will kill any chance of large scale successfull RICH HTML5 apps. There’s so much a developer can do, and asking them to do animations/3D/high end Graphics is asking them for too much

    No there is no way HTML5 will kill Flash/Silverlight!!!

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  6. “Now the choice for developers is not necessarily between Flash and Silverlight but between Flash and HTML5.”

    How does this follow from any information / analysis preceeding?
    Its basically a complete non sequitor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_%28logic%29

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  7. How do I get a job as a tech writer on one of the plethora of sites sprouting unfounded speculation and regurgitating drivel from Twitter? I’m pretty good at making things up.

    Please contact me if you have any openings.

    The benefit of hiring me is that I have actually used these technologies, and therefore have the awareness that they all have different use-cases :

    Flash : good for RIA / advertising / games due to ubiquity of the plugin. Not so good for serious web applications due to lack of integration with good backend technologies.

    Html5 : good for standards based public websites where the greatest reach is important. Can do some cool stuff, but to go beyond a certain level and match flash/SL will require some seriously ugly javascript. Further, any really cool work will be dead easy to rip off, where as flash/sl aren’t so easy to duplicate.

    Silverlight: bad for standards based web, and lacks ubiquity, but great for serious web applications due to quality tooling and integration with Microsoft’s back-end stack.

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  8. Read through the Silverlight teams thoughts on the future of Silverlight:

    http://team.silverlight.net/announcement/the-future-of-silverlight/

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  9. Wow. Is this supposed to be “news?”

    I’d like to write something on the death of newteevee.com. I wouldn’t need to do any real research and could invent facts apparently.

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  10. Plenty has already been said about the false statement that Silverlight is dead, but there’s one other important issue from the post that needs to be addressed. Xbox is not using HTML5 for its ESPN3 UI or video delivery, they are using Apple’s HTTP adaptive bit rate format for the video stream delivery, I think that’s what has been incorrectly called HTML5 in the post. While the HTML5 spec covers video display through the tag it does not cover HTTP adaptive bit rate video delivery formats so it’s incorrect to call any format “HTML5”. However that said there is positive action happening on the standardization front, the Smooth Streaming format (which is built around PIFF) has been submitted to MPEG and we are actively working with Apple and others on standardizing HTTP adaptive bit rate delivery, which will benefit us all.

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    1. Hi Jason, we were talking with Chris Carper at the last IBC, but I need to understand now your post. so here my q

      1 which is the main rational for the Xbox dev team to have chosen Apple adaptive streaming and not Smooth? Besides of that I pretty sure that playready DRM is not working on top of Apple adaptive streaming, I’m wrong?

      2 I think that Samnsung TVs / roku player support Apple Adaptive Streaming right away, but not so sure about Smooth. So if you are a content provider,or -better for the question- a CDN provider, if your delivery servers support just smooth you can o you cannot deliver streaming services to Apple Adaptive Streaming Devices?

      Best, Martin

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