Just watched the keynote presentation today by Microsoft at MIX07, an annual conference Microsoft holds for web developers and designers.
They key announcements centered around Silverlight.
Silverlight is a complete set of offerings that take on Flash on the desktop, and also further entrenches Microsoft's .NET CLR (Common Language Runtime) on the web.
In one sense, Silverlight is a renamed Windows Presentation Foundation / .NET. But it's much more than that. It's pretty clear that MSFT is not just going after Flash; they are also very much going after YouTube and Google with Silverlight, combined with their ample data services announcements.
Silverlight is not just a Flash competitor; it's also a way to install the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) across all browsers. It's also a cheap media hosting solution that allows you to stream media from Microsoft-hosted servers. I was particularly impressed with Ray Ozzie's ability to summarize the tradeoffs that current web developers make every day, as well as Scott Guthrie's very competent an accessible overview of the technologies involved. (Watch the keynote here.)
What does this mean?
- Adobe is in a lot of competitive trouble with this
- Much, much richer browser applications are on the near-term horizon
- The principle barrier to writing in .NET (whether it's C#, VB, Python, or now even Ruby), which was honking-big download size, is now gone. More than 90% of all users have Flash installed today; I'd predict that more than 90% of all users will have Silverlight (and therefore the .NET framework) installed within 12-18 months.
There's a lot here with Silverlight, and I think MSFT is going to have some pretty considerable success with it.
I'm also very impressed with Ray Ozzie, and happen to agree with his perspective 100% -- check out the Q&A with Michael Arrington at the end.
Michael Arrington's post on Silverlight is here.