Microsoft Partners: Silverlight Gives Us Everything We Need


On some levels, Mozilla and other Windows Mobile partners' concerns are understandable. They're used to Windows Mobile 6.x being able to run applications developed in native code, and they're understandably peeved at the prospect of having to rewrite them for Windows Phone 7.

"While we think Windows Phone 7 looks interesting and has the potential to do well in the market, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to close off development to native applications. Because of this, we won't be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time," Mozilla developer Stuart Parmenter wrote in a Monday blog post.

However, Microsoft partners that have deep experience working with Silverlight say it's more than ready for prime time.

Scott Stanfield, CEO of Richmond, Calif.-based Microsoft partner Vertigo Software, says native application development in Silverlight uses the out-of-browser style that was introduced in Silverlight 3. Therefore, the action in Windows Phone 7 won't be around the browser, but the applications.

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"What Mozilla is asking for is a native, C++ style, traditional API connection to the phone. But partners aren't asking for this. We can do everything we need to do in Silverlight," said Stanfield.

Many developers prefer programming in managed code because it's faster, more convenient and offers better security. Microsoft apparently feels that Silverlight is well equipped to handle Windows Phone 7 development and that there's no need for developers to use native code.

Because Silverlight is based on .NET, developers can reuse desktop application code in Windows Phone 7. Microsoft's Visual Studio and Expression IDEs give developers familiar tools with which work, and the ability to write one code base in managed code and have it run on multiple platforms and numerous form factors and devices is something they've dreamed of for years.

"This allows the army of savvy Microsoft-focused developers out there to also be able to create native applications for the Windows Phone 7 platform. It seems like a smart strategy for Microsoft," said Dave Meeker, director of emerging media and co-director of Roundarch Labs, a Chicago-based Web development firm that works with Silverlight.

The native code prohibition in Windows Phone 7 isn't absolute, however. Microsoft is reportedly extending native access to Adobe in order to bring Flash Player 10.1 to Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Phone 7 devices. At this point, it doesn't look like other vendors will be able to follow suit. Stanfield doesn't expect Microsoft to change its stance anytime soon and expects this issue to disappear once developers realize what Silverlight is capable of.

"If anything, developers will get more apps in their marketplace by targeting Silverlight -- it has broader acceptance and is more suitable for rich media," Stanfield said.