by kai on 30/04/2007

…was the title of an email I’ve just received from a friend in Germany. It contained exactly one link, uncommented:


From my point of view, this is a pretty interesting approach and an obvious response to Adobe’s announcement to open-source parts of Flex. If only, this creates an interesting competition which is always good to push competitors into delivering good solutions for their customers and users.

But just from a technical point of view – why would I want to invest strategically into a Rich Client Platfrom that is so tightly hooked into the Microsoft world as WPF/E (Silverlight) is? Even if they say now that it will support Mac OS totally fine. Even if they say that you wouldn’t need the latest browsers, latest 3D graphic adaptors etc. Sorry folks, but after having had some experiences with Microsofts technologies, it’s at least a bit hard to believe.

Interesting is the Silverlight FAQ – did you notice that it basically doesn’t say a lot as soon as it comes to cross-platform, cross-browser issues:

“Silverlight will support all major browsers on both Mac OS X and on Windows. Particular care is being taken to account for differences in platform and browser capabilities to ensure a consistent experience including experiences on FireFox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.”

Hmm… really, I don’t want to bash Microsoft – it’s probably not really a bad technology and I do actually see some use cases for it. But those use-cases are very tightly integrated into their OS platforms such as XP, 2k3 and Vista and particularly into IIS, SharePoint, Exchange etc. It might for instance be a great technology to develop rich intranet solutions for a homogeneous Windows environment. It might be great also if you want to bring WMV and WMA into the web.

But realistically – if you want to develop and deploy applications for a wide range of clients, platforms and users, if you want to leverage the most-widespread runtime in the web, you might rather look into Flex and Apollo. Seriously, what I’ve seen of Apollo so far and after what I know where Flex is heading towards in the future, I know what I’m going to invest into in terms of resources, knowledge, enablement and upskilling. And also ask yourself about the history of Flash and how it was driven up to and including today. Backwards compatibility was never a problem for Flash applications/movies/animations whereas Microsoft is not really famous for being backwards compatible…

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