Microsoft and the End of Cross-Platform Application Frameworks (again)
Microsoft discussed strategy a bit this week at PDC. One of the more interesting themes was a shift in development platform strategies with a focus on HTML5 as the cross-platform methodology of choice and a relegation of Silverlight as the application platform for Windows Phone 7.
I see this not so much as an acceptance of the failure of Silverlight over Flash as the failure of Silverlight / Flash as a cross-platform hybrid platform – I think Apple has won (with HTML5) and Microsoft knows it. I’m not even sure that Microsoft is really that sad about it – they were worried about Flash for the same reasons Apple was. As has been twittered a good deal as of late, did we not learn anything from the complete failure of cross-platform application frameworks in the 90s (particularly Java on the client)? Cross-platform application frameworks are only good for the tools vendors and consultants – not for developers or the consumers. I’ll defend that statement in another blog entry, but I feel like I’ve probably already done that two or three times already in past entries.
HTML5 & the web is the Microsoft answer to cross-platform (funnily enough, it’s Apple’s answer as well) – a market they (nor Apple) could really care less about in the relative scheme of things – it doesn’t directly help their OS or their applications. It’s just a minimum requirement that must be met to have a viable OS. Silverlight (and it’s underlying WPF/.NET underpinnings) is going to be the native app platform for the Windows Phone and likely every other MS platform before it’s over with – which is probably pretty smart – it’s a good platform.
Supporting HTML5 and the web is only required to provide support for the lowest common denominator platform. Innovation isn’t going to take place in the lowest common denominator – it’s going to occur in the targeted platform space with native applications that take full advantage of the underlying platform. Otherwise, you could just give us all Chrome and be done with it, and as I have stated often before, common denominator cross-platform solutions breed mediocre user experiences and commoditize the entire computing experience into a bland, boring space.