This week at MIX07 we revealed the full extent of Microsoft Silverlight which includes support for XAML-based UI and includes a .NET CLR with support for C#, VB.Net, IronPython, JScript and eventually IronRuby and VBx which enables the delivery of cross-platform high-speed, rich functionality applications in IE, Firefox (and soon Opera, post v1.1) on Windows, and in Safari on the Macintosh.
You can download the alpha of Silverlight Version 1.1 right now.
It does not mean that desktop applications are history because:
- You have to persist the user's data in the cloud
- There are some things you can't do in the Silverlight CLR (it's a hefty subset of the full CLR/BCL but not everything is included)
- There is limited access to writing to local storage (check the SDK docs for info about 'isolated storage')
- The app always has to run online (but that means no "patches")
but it does create some awesome opportunities for a wide range of real high-performance applications coded in real languages.
Since the apps are always downloaded you can choose to serve them only to users who are currently licensed. No need for "trial" downloads, simply turn the users access off after the trial period unless they pay. You could even deliver one version of the application to users who are in the 'trial' state and a more-fully-featured version to users who are in the 'subscribed' state. And, in my opinion, very significantly, if you want to, you can sell it using a subscription based business model instead of just a one-time charge and build multiple streams of recurring income.
It will not, since the IL will be cached in the browser, completely eliminate the need for obfuscation but since each running application will, by necessity, need to connect back to your server, mean that cracks will be much less likely and, since the user's data is stored on a servers a cracked version will be of much less use.
The cloud storage is also an opportunity for MicroISVs to offer additional local backup-your-cloud-data-locally tools and services.
Bottom line is this the kind of profound paradigm shift that MicroISVs have the agility, motivation and skill to take advantage of big-time.
I can't wait to see the new, innovative applications that are built on Silverlight!
Stay tuned for Project Glidepath guidance, code templates and tooling in the near future.
Check out the videos of all the MIX07 keynotes, breakouts and panel discussions available online now (with the full set to be available in the next couple of days)