What does Silverlight mean to you?
Mike Harsh, fellow program manager on the team and all-round great guy, was manning the Silverlight booth at the NAB Show, doing demos and talking to customers. He says: "I have never been involved with any technology that has this level of excitement and interest, and I’ve never given demos to so many people who’ve walked away with a smile on their faces. After seeing the demos it sinks in very quickly that Silverlight will let them do incredible things with their existing Windows Media assets using all their existing delivery infrastructure." Read that last statement carefully. It touches on what we think is the essence of Silverlight today.
Dave Wolf from Cynergy says "[The] entire RIA market just became real and it is about to explode, and it is thanks in large part to Microsoft and Silverlight... Microsoft just justified and legitimized RIA. That is HUGE." I think Dave makes a great point. With a player like Microsoft advocating the agenda, you will see the company's traditional audience of developers and decision makers in enterprises, take RIAs more seriously than they have. This adds to the momentum Adobe (and previously Macromedia) have already garnered. I think with companies like Adobe and Microsoft at the helm, we're at the beginnings of the RIA renaissance.
In that post, Dave also talks about the Microsoft penchant for project code names, but as an insider, I do not see that these names mean that much. Sure they're placeholders on specs, slide decks, share points and distribution list aliases. But that's about it. We laugh when the press and blogosphere influentials weave sinister stories out of these. What matters is action, not name. For clarity, "Sparkle" was never the code name for Silverlight (as some have suggested): it was "Jolt" to the development team and "WPF/E" to everybody else. "Sparkle" was the code name for Expression Blend, the design surface for WPF. I've lost count of the number of times I've chuckled when the tech trade press called Sparkle the Flash-killer. Yeah, like Picasa is the Photoshop killer. Can we please stop with all the killer references?
All of this finally brings me to the core point I'm trying to make in this post. That is: don't believe the hype and the FUD. We're going to announce more details on Silverlight features at the Mix 07 conference. Pick up our next build (coming soon to microsoft.com/silverlight), read the docs, play with the bits and the tools, ask questions on the Silverlight forums, engage with the community and make up your own mind. And do let us know what you think. I'll trade a million articles in tech rags for one post on the forums or your blog where you candidly tell me and the team what we're doing wrong and where you'd like to see us go. Our plans are not set in stone. Silverlight is still pre-release software and there's much we can add and change in this and future versions. My team and I are not looking for toothy grins and thumbs-up signs. We're looking for honest critiques and feature requests. Got any?