“Our strategy has shifted” – the most famous statement in the Silverlight community. Here the quote form MJF’s post “But when it comes to touting Silverlight as Microsoft’s vehicle for delivering a cross-platform runtime, “our strategy has shifted,” Muglia told me.” That was one year ago but yet nobody really understood what the shift was about. One could think the HTML5 bandwagon Microsoft jumped on was this shift but we talking about app development here and not websites. In this environment HTML5 loses his platform independence and we are not talking cross-platform anymore. Apple knows it, Google knows it, everybody knows it; if an app wants to become native on a certain platform and wants to take advantage of its characteristics then the development model needs to be platform specific. HTML5 doesn’t change a thing on this fact.
So if the shift wasn’t about the programming model, what was it then? In my opinion the shift happens on a different layer, it happens right know with Windows 8 and is driven by WinDiv and Sinofsky. It is not about running WPF everywhere (aka Silverlight), it is all about running Windows everywhere. Windows 8 is just the first step on this journey and will be most likely a transition with its problems and flaws. However, the long term vision is to form a trinity of processor architecture, devices and application development. The first important steps to make this happen was to port the NT kernel to ARM, creating a new UI layer (Metro) and to unify native C++, .NET and HTML development into WinRT. Yes, this strategy causes some collateral damage (Silverlight /WPF) but we also get rid of some old enemies like Win32. However, since Silverlight got its genes into WinRT it will live on and run everywhere. While I should put a “highly speculative” – tag on this post, I have some facts that support my thesis.
Microsoft constantly optimized MinWin to run on low-spec hardware
Rumours about WP8 (code name Appollo) going to run Windows kernel
Metro UI is the new standard WP7, Windows 8, XBox Dashboard
MinWin port to to other CPU architectures makes it fit for XBox720
DirectX is part of WinRT which is a must have for XBox
- If I’m right ten Microsoft has to show us that MinWin performance well on different architectures and low spec hardware. They also have to show us how to implement business apps with Metro. At least in there future vision video it is possible, which is all Metro by the way. It is hard to imagine but a unified Windows could drive all the devices in this video.
P.S. Oh WPF/e got a better name when it was released, maybe Windows/e gets also a new name. The name Windows 8 is not confirmed yet and as far as I know, there are no windows in Metro.
Update: Some more post backing up my thoughts here.