Last week Microsoft announced that Silverlight 1.0 was being released. For those of you who may not be aware of what Silverlight is, you should go check it out at Microsoft.com. To quote the marketing pitch - Silverlight is, "a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering richer user experiences on the web."
In other words, think kick-butt graphics, video, and audio for websites and/or web-based applications. The dev team did a bunch of work to make the use of Silverlight by other developers easy, fast, and powerful. If you want to get a feel for what is possible with the tool, look at the "Whirlything." While I don't know that I would classify the Whirlything as the coolest thing since sliced bread, it sure helped me understand how tools like this can start to influence user interfaces. So, from a tech perspective Silverlight has some depth and power and for consumers it will add to the progression of what is possible for new applications.
But, I'm a nerd in that I don't focus on the "wow" factor of this stuff from the tech front. I have a different take on it.
As you may have noticed, my blog has been rather myopic on Open XML of late. That is fine given the intensity of that issue, but it is by no means my only focus. Interoperability remains my top-level focus, and standards are only way of many to get there.
Silverlight is interesting to me in that it deals with the spectrum of elements that foster interoperability. The one that I will focus on here is the business relationship with Novell. In case you did not see this in the release, Microsoft is also going to work with Novell on a project called "Moonlight" which is the idea of Silverlight on Linux.
Why is this interesting to me? Because at the heart of Silverlight is the desire to drive innovation forward. Yes, there is competition with Flash - and that pushes both technologies forward. But success for innovators is in seeing adoption, and hopefully having that positively affect their business overall.
X-plat is all about interoperability. And here we see a case where the building of the bridge between the two platforms (Windows and Linux) is important and significantly driven through the business relationship between two firms. That relationship addresses both technology and business requirements (business including legal considerations as well).
My point is that the interoperability users will ultimately experience will not have come from a standard . It will come from the idea that innovation is driving forward the technology, and the businesses involved are finding ways to achieve interoperability via implementations, business arrangements, and IP agreements. It is too easy to fall into the myopia of interop=open standards. Real-world interop is going to come by keeping the full spectrum of possibilities in mind.
Silverlight is really cool stuff, and this announcement absolutely highlights the thinking behind our Interoperability By Design approach.