Silverlight : Stop Blaming Microsoft For Your Stupidity

02 Nov 2010

Its time for a lot of developers tied to a Microsoft stack to take a step back and re-examined the fundamentals of the tech industry. There are two things you have to understand. First, its a hyper competitive business; business goals and strategies will change (sharply). Second, large tech companies, which we've attached our careers to, are pioneers meaning things don't always work out the way they think they will. What that means to you is that you better recognized that change is both inevitable and unpredictable - oh, and it wouldn't hurt if you stopped thinking Microsoft owes you something.

For once, I'm not even advocating that you have to look beyond Microsoft, but you certainly need to look beyond a specific product or technology, especially if its either a young technology or an old one. This is true for any technology or platform (open source does offer real defense against this though, but that's a different discussion). It seems like its a bigger problem for Microsoft because (A) Microsoft has a very large and diverse developer community (B) Microsoft's PR/Evangelist/Sales are extremely effective, and too many shops/developers don't recognize that they are being pitched (C) The rest of us like to see Microsoft fail.

And let's be honest, when Google does a course correction (which happens quite often), we tend to congratulate them for giving it the old college try. Maybe the world wasn't ready for your awesome innovation, we say. But when Microsoft does the same thing, we ridicule them and point out how obviously flawed their attempt was - without understanding the scope, and complexity of their business, partnerships and ecosystem (which I truly believe dwarf the other tech giants).

So on one side you have the Silverlight (or LINQ to SQL, or VB6, or ...) guys who can't believe the insult thrown their way, and on the other, idiots like me, who damn them for not doing, and damn them more for doing.

Now, as for idiots like me, we just come off as idiots, whatever...I am an idiot.

As for you, the companies and developers building out a 3, 5 or even 10 year plan on a specific technology, and not being accountable for the risk that you took, well, seriously, how many times until you actually learn the lesson?

With respect to Silverlight itself, it never made any sense. Forget that, edge cases aside, there's no justifiable reason to use anything but the established and capable standards on the web, it just doesn't make business sense for Microsoft. Sliverlight pre-PDC competed against Flash, which not only has insane market penetration, but also, as far as I'm concerned, isn't a threat, in any way, shape or form, to Microsoft. Its a worthless market, so why spend resources on it. On mobile though, Silverlight suddenly feels right and no one questions how vital that market is.

In closing, a little conspiracy theory (surely someone has mentioned this already), anyone else think it strange that 3 weeks after a (highly publicized) Adobe-Microsoft meeting at the highest levels, Silverlight as a Flash alternative is no more?

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