Friday, December 14, 2007

Issues - Silverlight 2.0 Backward compatibility with Silverlight 1.1 Applications.

I wonder how many times Microsoft is going to disappoint the developers community or early adopters of Silverlight.

When Microsoft first announced the technology I had mixed feelings about Silverlight, and I went on to even say "Silverlight, Why should I bother?" my problem was with Silverlight 1.1 Alpha, this is what I had to say then.

"The point is, yes, ideally Silverlight is a great concept, and it would revolutionise the way web looks, feels and works and it can even compete with Adobe Flash and put Adobe out of business even if you compromise Microsoft's poor graphic designers .If and only if Microsoft can actually finish what they started...

Don't take me wrong, I am totally happy with the work folks at Microsoft are doing and the concept of Silverlight, I just don't see the point of launching alpha version of a software that have a very long way to go and every one know what is missing. In days to come you will see Silverlight applications here and there, mostly in video streaming and few other games but the total power of Silverlight can only come to surface when Silverlight can support import of vector graphics from other formats, full security features (especially SSL), user controls (the basic controls will do), and finally database objects. "

And after seven months, nothing has changed, so I was right, they wanted MIX'07 to be a success and it pushed them to announce Silverlight 1.1. And they left early adopters waiting in anticipation for months on end then came the announcement by ScoutGu about renaming Silverlight 1.1 to Silverlight 2.0 and Beta version in MIX'08, now don't get me wrong but that is almost a year. Microsoft is never supportive of the developers, they tend to keep big secrets many suspected (including myself) that Silverlight 1.1 might take a long time to develop, but I could never have imagined that you will go to MIX'08 to announce Beta. I think Microsoft should atleast release Silverlight 2.0 Alpha by Christmas, they own these early adaptors something. I was hoping they might release Silverlight 2.0 Alpha December Preview, but it shattered with Mono's Moonlight announcement, the latest Moonlight release (1.2.6) supports Silverlight 1.1 applications, if we were getting December preview of Silverlight 2.0 then Moonlight won't have went to the trouble of release a version to support Silverlight 1.1. So that is it, we can't get to see Silverlight 2.0 till after MIX'08.

If you thought that was enough, the worst was yet to come, Silverlight 2.0's backward compatibility with Silverlight 1.1 applications was nagging me ever since Silverlight 2.0 announcement, when Tim Sneath posted Why Can't I "Go Live" with Silverlight 1.1 Alpha? on his blog and mentioned,

Silverlight 1.1 (now known as 2.0) is not ready for "Go Live" usage at this stage, and the EULA explicitly prohibits deployment in production sites.

I took the opportunity to ask him about Silverlight 2.0 backward compatibility with Silverlight 1.1  I wasn't really expecting Tim to answer as they are always secretive about future releases, but when Tim replied, the answer wasn't to my liking,

Imran, there are substantial breaking changes between the 1.1 alpha and what will become the final 2.0 release - we don't claim to be backward compatible with 1.1 alpha. However, 2.0 _is_ fully backward-compatible with 1.0 applications.

Now that is devastating, not for Microsoft but for the early adopters of the technology, Microsoft still benefited by the buzz and hype surrounding the Flash Vs Silverlight argument which only early adopters made possible, now if Silverlight 2.0 is going to be so different to Silverlight 1.1 to the extend that they can't even be compatible, then the question is what have the early adaptors of Silverlight 1.1 Alpha archived since Silverlight 1.1 was announced?

It was not about poor implementation or planning for Silverlight on Microsoft's part, every one knew what was missing, everyone know what was required, but still Microsoft went on to announce Silverlight 1.1 in MIX'07 just to create the hype in the developer community and provide the exclusive marketing with the developers.

If it was not for the early adopters of Silverlight 1.1, Silverlight 1.0 community won't have been where it is now and now we .NET developers have to start again in March after MIX'08.

I hope history doesn't repeat itself.


Anonymous said...

When can we start building the silverlight 2.0 applications then? Any word about when can we expect Silverlight 2.0 RTM?

Imran Shaik said...

Silverlight 2.0 Beta will be available by MIX 08 (March 2008), and the RTM to follow in few more months. We can only start buidling Silverlight 2.0 applications when Beta is released.

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