Microsoft's Muglia Clarifies Silverlight Comments

Microsoft executive Bob Muglia used a corporate blog posting to clarify comments about Silverlight he made during last week's PDC in Redmond.

Microsoft moved to clear up some controversy surrounding its support of Silverlight, with a top company executive assuring developers in a blog post that the software would remain a key cross-platform solution for some time to come. Silverlight is Microsoft's development platform for rich media applications, such as Website interactive features.

Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, accidentally ignited the controversy at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2010, which ran Oct. 28-29 in Redmond, Wash.

"Our strategy has shifted," Muglia apparently told ZDNet during an interview at the conference. Silverlight would remain a sort of cross-platform glue for developers, but "HTML is the only true cross-platform solution for everything, including [Apple's] iOS platform." Although the interview's next paragraph has Muglia assuring Mary Jo Foley that the next version of Silverlight is in the works, his comments nonetheless set off debate over whether Microsoft planned on curtailing the software.

In a Nov. 1 posting on the Silverlight Team Blog, Muglia hastened to assure developers that Microsoft stands behind Silverlight and its cross-platform abilities.

"During the conference, I gave an interview where, among other things, I talked about the great work we're doing with Silverlight-in particular, support for Windows Phone 7, which we featured heavily at the conference," Muglia wrote. "I understand that what I said surprised people and caused controversy and confusion."

Silverlight remains "very important and strategic to Microsoft," he added. "We're working hard on the next release of Silverlight, and it will continue to be cross-browser and cross-platform, and run on Windows and Mac." Silverlight also remains a key development platform for Windows and especially Windows Phone.

Muglia then moved to re-emphasize Silverlight's place in the developer's toolkit:

"The purpose of Silverlight has never been to replace HTML, but rather to do the things that HTML [and other technologies] can't, and to do so in a way that's easy for developers to use." He then claimed that some 600,000 developers currently build software using the platform, which is installed on "two-thirds of the world's computers."

Nonetheless, HTML5 continues to play a vital part in Microsoft's online and developer play. "HTML5 is the glue that holds all of this together," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during the PDC, in the context of Internet Explorer 9's ability to leverage PCs' hardware to more seamlessly power Websites. In addition to Silverlight and IE 9, the conference saw executives promoting Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud-development platform.