Bob Muglia: PDC and Silverlight

silverlight logoThis article was written by Bob Muglia, President of the Server and Tools division at Microsoft. It was posted on the Silverlight Team’s blog, and I’m reposting it here verbatim.

Last week, we held our PDC conference on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. We also streamed it online using Silverlight (with both live and on-demand sessions). Already, more than 100,000 developers have watched the event, and the feedback on the streaming experience has been phenomenal. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the sessions yet, I encourage you to do so:

During the conference, I gave an interview where, among other things, I talked about the great work we’re doing with Silverlight – in particular, support for Windows Phone 7, which we featured heavily at the conference. The interview was accurately reported. I understand that what I said surprised people and caused controversy and confusion. As this certainly wasn’t my intent, I want to apologize for that. I’d like to use this post to expand on what I said, and talk about the very important role Silverlight has going forward.

In the interview, I said several things that I want to emphasize:

  1. Silverlight is very important and strategic to Microsoft.
  2. We’re working hard on the next release of Silverlight, and it will continue to be cross-browser and cross-platform, and run on Windows and Mac.
  3. Silverlight is a core application development platform for Windows, and it’s the development platform for Windows Phone.

We haven’t yet publically announced a launch date for the next release of Silverlight, but we’ll talk more about it in the coming months.

Last week, we released some important updates to Silverlight 4, which shipped only six months ago and included major new features and tooling capabilities. Last week’s updates included improvements to WCF RIA Services, as well as the new Portable Library project – making it easier to share assemblies across SL Desktop, SL Phone, WPF and .NET on the server. John Papa delivered a PDC session on building business apps with Silverlight 4, and Shawn Burke delivered a PDC session on the portable library project. I recommend that you take a look at both of these.

Silverlight Strategy

I said, “Our Silverlight strategy and focus going forward has shifted.” This isn’t a negative statement, but rather, it’s a comment on how the industry has changed and how we’re adapting our Silverlight strategy to take advantage of that.

Below are some of the trends we’re tracking and optimizing around.

Customers are demanding the richest possible client experiences, and developers are increasingly looking to build premium, tailored experiences optimized for specific devices. Silverlight provides the richest way to build Web-delivered client apps. In particular, with Silverlight 4, we invested in enabling enterprise application development and now provide an outstanding platform to build rich business applications – both inside and outside the browser.

Customers want to be able to deliver client experiences that are optimized for specific form factors. Silverlight provides a rich UI framework that enables smooth animations and lends itself very well to touch input and embedded devices. At the PDC last week, we spent a lot of time talking about Windows Phone 7 and how Silverlight provides a great developer platform for creating apps for it. With the U.S. launch just days away, already we have more than 1,000 Silverlight apps built for Windows Phone, and consumers of the phone will be able to purchase these apps through an integrated marketplace built into each device. Recently, we’ve also demonstrated Silverlight apps running on Windows Embedded, and Silverlight is a critical component of our three-screen strategy.

Media delivery across the Internet continues to accelerate dramatically. Customers want HD, studio quality, premium media content. Silverlight has and will continue to be a pioneering technology that makes it possible to deliver the best media experiences anywhere. Whether it’s the Olympics, Netflix, or many other media experiences, we have and will continue to invest in it. Silverlight and IIS Media Services are the choice for premium media experiences with features like HTTP adaptive streaming, DECE-approved content protection, and offline media applications. In addition, IIS Smooth Streaming enables media delivery to a wide variety of devices, including devices where Silverlight isn’t supported.

Lastly, there has been massive growth in the breadth and diversity of devices made by a wide variety of vendors providing both open and closed systems. When we started Silverlight, the number of unique/different Internet-connected devices in the world was relatively small, and our goal was to provide the most consistent, richest experience across those devices. But the world has changed. As a result, getting a single runtime implementation installed on every potential device is practically impossible. We think HTML will provide the broadest, cross-platform reach across all these devices. At Microsoft, we’re committed to building the world’s best implementation of HTML 5 for devices running Windows, and at the PDC, we showed the great progress we’re making on this with IE 9.

The purpose of Silverlight has never been to replace HTML, but rather to do the things that HTML (and other technologies) can’t, and to do so in a way that’s easy for developers to use. Silverlight enables great client app and media experiences. It’s now installed on two-thirds of the world’s computers, and more than 600,000 developers currently build software using it. Make no mistake; we’ll continue to invest in Silverlight and enable developers to build great apps and experiences with it in the future.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Jeff Atwood: A Very Brief Interview


Over at Canadian Developer Connection, we’ve got one more video from PDC in which Yours Truly conducted the interview: it’s with Jeff Atwood, the guy behind the blog Coding Horror and co-creator of Stack Overflow. It’s a brief interview; there were many people who wanted a slice of Jeff’s time, and we were lucky to even be able to buttonhole for as long as we did.

We’ll catch up for beers and Rock Band soon, Jeff!



Salmagundi for Friday, November 7th, 2008

Interview with Chris Slemp, MSDN


Here’s another video interview featuring Yours Truly at the PDC: it’s with Chris Slemp, Program Manager for the Server and Tools Online group at Microsoft. In the interview, we talk about MSDN and its new social bookmarking feature.

Click here to watch the video.

“Grim Fandango’s” Puzzle Document


If you’re looking to get into the mind of a game designer and the design of one of the most highly-regarded computer adventures games, be sure to check out the Grim Fandango Puzzle Document. Tim Schafer, in “a temporary fit of Cake-induced Grim nostalgia,” decided to put the game’s puzzle design document online in PDF form (it’s 2.3MB in size).

Here’s a great summary of the Grim Fandango Puzzle Document, written by Andy Geers:

I use that word "crafted" because that’s exactly what this newly released document shows: true craftsmanship. We see the incredible attention to detail, the pacing of the narrative as it builds and as the puzzles get increasingly sophisticated, always coaxing the player along with them. As somebody whose spent the last few years trying to write my own adventure game, what struck me most about this document is the sheer simplicity of it – it’s well established that it takes a great deal of clarity and hard work to boil down something so vast as Grim Fandango into such a simple representation that conveys so much information in such a succinct way.

It’s a considerably more interesting read than most specs.

My Job-Related Reading List

Nothing gives you that frozen-caveman-thawed-in-modern-times feeling like returning to a software platform after not developing in it in seven years. Getting back into the swing of Microsoft’s development tools has been fun so far, but it is, as a lot of people have told me, like drinking from the firehose.


To quickly get acclimated with C#, ASP.NET and XNA, I’m expensing the following books I bought today:

I’ll let you know what I think of these books as I read them.

“Zero Punctuation” Reviews

And finally, a couple of reviews from my all-time favourite game reviewer, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw. The first one’s for Saints Row 2, which includes a great argument for why it might actually be a better game than Grand Theft Auto IV as well as a brilliant concept for a new game:

and here’s the latest review, for Dead Space, which he summarizes as “competent but bland”. Luckily, his review is anything but…


My PDC Interviews: Don Box, Miguel de Icaza, John Lam, Phil Haack and .NET Micro Framework

PDC2008 graphic

A number of people have asked me how many sessions I attended at last week’s Microsoft Professional Developers Conference; my answer was “I only attended the keynotes”. Since every session was recorded on video (with a split screen showing both presenter and presentation) and made available online, I decided to focus on what you can’t replicate outside the conference: getting to know people in the Windows developer community.

It’s standard procedure at Microsoft to assign “buddies” to new hires to help them get acclimated. I have the very good fortune of having John Bristowe as one of my buddies; not only is he a warm and friendly guy, but I also already know him (his sister Ashley and I went to Crazy Go Nuts University together). John’s big on podcasting and was very generous in sharing the interviewer’s chair; he let me do a lot of interviews as a way to both get podcasting practice and introduce myself to people in the Windows world. Thanks, John!

You’re going to need Silverlight to view these videos. If you’re rolling your eyes at the prospect of having to download yet another plugin, keep in mind that Silverlight is a pretty cool tool for writing rich internet apps, I’ll be covering it rather extensively soon, and it’s catching on. Besides, you can’t see the videos without it!

Don Box on My Joining the Dark Side, Demos, Oslo and M, Zombies and How to Pronounce “Azure”

Still from Joey deVilla's interview with Don Box
Click the picture to see the video of the interview.

After introducing myself to Distinguished Engineer (yup, that’s really his title) Don Box as “Microsoft’s Newest Employee”, I told him about my coming to Microsoft from the F/OSS world and asked him to please tell me that I hadn’t made a tragic mistake and ruined my life by coming over to the Dark Side. We also talked about his preparation process for his keynote demo, the Oslo platform and the M programming platform, the proper way to pronounce “Azure” and whether or not Microsoft is ready for the zombie apocalypse.

Useful Don Box/Oslo Links

Miguel de Icaza on Mono

Still from Joey deVilla's interview with Miguel de Icaza
Click the picture to see the video of the interview.

I had a great chat with Mono Project lead Miguel de Icaza about Mono, their answer to Silverlight, the number of people in the Mono Project and how you, as a Windows developer, can take Mono out for a spin. We also talked about how to pronounce “Azure”, and Miguel speculated that the name was a clever choice because the disagreement over its pronunciation is a great way to get people talking about it.

Useful Miguel de Icaza/Mono Links

John Lam on IronRuby

Still from Joey deVilla's interview with John Lam
Click the picture to see the video of the interview.

It’s always good to catch up with Toronto-area guy turned Redmond guy and IronRuby creator John Lam. We had a quick chat about IronRuby and the current state of the project. In the interview, he reminds us that IronRuby is an open source project, talks about the Ruby standard implementation tests it’s currently passing and what to expect from IronRuby in the near future.

Useful John Lam/IronRuby Links

Phil Haack on ASP.NET MVC

Still from Joey deVilla's interview with Phil Haack
Click the picture to see the video of the interview.

Phil Haack not only has the coolest surname for a techie, he’s also got an MVC framework for ASP.NET, just like the ones the Rails, Django and Cake people get to play with. In this interview, we talk about MVC web frameworks for the uninitiated, as well as get his take on how to pronounce “Azure”.

Useful Phil Haack/ASP.NET MVC Links

.NET Micro Framework

Still from Joey deVilla's ".NET Micro Framework" interview
Click the picture to see the video of the interview.

Believe it or not, there’s a .NET framework for embedded devices, the .NET Micro Framework. In this interview, I learn about .NET programming for small devices, the “Dare to Dream Different” contest (where you can win great prizes for coming up with new applications for the .NET Micro Framework) and about what donuts have to do with microcontrollers. Mmm…donuts!

Useful .NET Micro Framework Links


Slice of Life from PDC, Part 4: My Crappy Hotel

Night shot of the Cecil Hotel

Over on my personal blog, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century, I’ve got a long (but entertaining) review of the hotel I stayed at while attending the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference titled A Dump with a Future.


Slice of Life from PDC, Part 3: The Simpsons Ride

Sign for Universal Studios' "The Simpsons Ride"

On Tuesday night, attendees of the PDC were treated to a night at the Universal Studios Hollywood amusement park, which was closed off to everyone but us. Everything was free: rides, food and drinks, and the park was dressed up for Hallowe’en, complete with horror movie characters including Freddy Krueger, skeletons and chainsaw-wielding zombies.

I’ll post more photos on the Accordion Guy blog later, but in the meantime, enjoy these photos featuring the new “Simpsons Ride”, which was very amusing. It’s one of those “ridefilms” or “simulator rides”, in which you’re placed in a ride car that seats 8 that gets jolted around in sync to an IMAX film. The basic plot:you’re trying out the new ride in “Krustyland” when suddenly, Sideshow Bob takes over the controls as an act of revenge, and hilarity ensues.

Entrance to "Krustyland"

One of the best things about the ride is that they try to keep you entertained in line with…you guess it, Simpsons cartoons. These new cartoons were made specifically for the ride, feature a number of Simpsons characters and best of all, feature writing that’s a lot funnier and sharper than the show has been lately.


Interview with IronRuby’s John Lam at PDC2008

I’m meeting up with a lot of interesting new people and catching up with old friends and collegaues here at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2008 in the Los Angeles Convention Center. Among the people I ran into was John Lam of the IronRuby project. This was the prefect opportunity for me to conduct my first podcast interview as a Microsoft Developer Evangelist. I asked John to explain IronRuby to people who’d never heard of it and to give us a quick summary of the current state of the project.

My thanks to John Bristowe for suggesting that I conduct the interview and for doing the camera and post-production work!