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Guthrie Talks Silverlight to AJAX Developers

Will Microsoft's Silverlight 2 rich interactive application runtime render a smaller role for AJAX in Redmond in the future?

If his keynote address at last week's AjaxWorld RIA Conference & Expo in San Jose, Calif. is any indication that certainly is a possibility. Scott Guthrie, vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, told attendees that his group is dedicated to helping AJAX developers through innovations and support within the Visual Studio 2008 IDE. While his division is responsible for bringing AJAX support to Visual Studio, his conference pitch focused more on Silverlight 2, the latest version of Microsoft's cross-platform browser plug-in for .NET rich internet applications (RIAs), which was launched on Oct. 13.

Guthrie made his remarks a week before arriving in Los Angeles for Microsoft's Professional Developers conference this week, where he will talk about the future of Redmond's developer ecosystem. As reported by Redmond Developer News Editor in Chief Michael Desmond, Silverlight represents Microsoft's core RIA focus.

Andrew Brust, chief of new technology for consultancy twentysix New York, told Desmond that developers can, today, craft sophisticated Web-based business applications using JavaScript-based AJAX. But those efforts can run into a wall.

"Compared to RIA technologies like Adobe AIR and Silverlight, [AJAX] still provides a rather primitive environment in which to program applications and still forces the tricky stuff to run on the server," Brust said. "While technologies like AJAX mitigate the inferiority, and sometimes do so really well, working in an awkward, re-purposed environment like HTML really bums corporate developers out and is just a lousy place for LOB apps to live."

But last week's AjaxWorld talk was all about Silverlight and the goal to make Silverlight a mass market offering, observed RDN Contributing Editor John K. Waters. Microsoft is aiming Silverlight at a mass-market audience, Guthrie said. "The goal is to be completely ubiquitous from a deployment perspective."

Guthrie also insisted that Silverlight, which Microsoft says now runs on 25 percent of the world's PCs, is more than just a consumer product, and that RIA developers will find a "one-stop shop" at Microsoft. Among other things, the Redmond software giant is set to provide full jQuery support within the next few weeks, he said. Guthrie gave attendees a preview of a jQuery Flickr application.

Guthrie touted Silverlight's small footprint (4.6MB), and reminded his audience that developers can write Silverlight applications using any .NET language (Visual Basic, C#, JavaScript, IronPython, and IronRuby). He also highlighted some of the plug-in's capabilities, including its rich UI framework; built in controls; support for calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS, and standard HTTP services; large .NET class library; and rich media support.

Meanwhile, here at PDC, Guthrie will be talking up Silverlight as well. Before going on stage Tuesday morning,, Guthrie is scheduled to be speaking tonight at an event hosted by John Paczkowski of All Things Digital recapping Silverlight's role in the site in August.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on October 27, 2008


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