Silverlight: Intranet Platform

May 4, 2007

Jeremy Zawodny says the key feature of Silverlight is the compact CLR.

They’ve decided to change the game–or at least bet that the game is changing. When they deliver a browser-based version of Microsoft Office, you can bet your ass that it’ll be built to run in the .NET CLR that Silverlight offers. It’ll work in Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and maybe even Opera. On both Macs and Windows boxes.

He goes on to clarify that this is mostly important in the intranet.

Now don’t be fooled into thinking I believe that Silverlight will take over the web. I think it’s success as even a Flash killer is highly uncertain at this point. But it’s certain to be a big hit inside companies that have major investments in .NET technologies. That’s an awful lot of companies and an awful lot of code. But how much we’ll see Silverlight being used in “consumer” services is a whole different question.

My question is, how does the compact CLR differ from Java Applets? Why didn’t Java Applets take over the intranet 5 years ago? Was Applet technology ahead of its time? There are some differences but there are some obvious similarities.

The sandbox obviously limits what your application can do. Applets couldn’t do much beyond making the little Java dude bounce around. But using the web as a storage mechanism has come a long way. GUIs in Java are a pain so maybe Microsoft with XAML and their development tools make GUI creation easier. The Flash-like vector-based design capabilities (with animation) are a big step above anything in Java (that I am aware of) but I have yet to see a list of corporate applications that need it. Cross-browser and cross-platform are an important step for Microsoft. I’m not sure it affects the corporate intranet where you can stipulate what browser/platform is used.

I am also unsure how entrenched .NET technologies are in corporations. The Microsoft platform is. VB certainly was but I don’t think that carried over in a meaningful way to .NET. I don’t know how to measure this though. I suspect that ASP.NET is well used but the front-end is plain-Jane HTML/DHTML.

So we will see. I may have come across more negative than I really feel about Silverlight. I think cross-platform .NET is an important step but I’m not convinced it will make a dent in what I see as HTMLs dominance (long live the king).

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One Response to “Silverlight: Intranet Platform”

  1. Ming Says:

    I agree and use FireFox with NoScript to block unwanted sicrpts. What pees me off about the Java Updates is having to OPT-OUT of the install “Ask Toolbar”. Other users in the office ignore this then complain their browser has been modified and home page changed by someone else and I have to go round explaining and uninstalling that toolbar. Lots of bits of software do similar things now too and I think they should all be OPT-IN nor OPT-OUT. As for Apple? what’s that then apart from a bit of fruit? ;-D


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