Thoughts on Microsoft Mix: The WideOpen Web

The majority of my blog posts are not exposed externally, but when a group of folks asked me to do an external post on my thoughts about the Microsoft Mix conference in Las Vegas this week, I gladly said, “Sure!”.  So here we go…Attending the conference was time well spent for me and consequently, I’m more confident than ever that not only is Microsoft building the platform, tools and plumbing for the next generation of applications, but that InterKnowlogy is perfectly aligned as experts in these technologies – specifically WPF and Silverlight. 

I have been a strong advocate and evangelist for “the smart client revolution” for many years.  When .NET Windows Forms 2.0 shipped ~ 5 years ago, the deployment and maintenance nightmare of COM was nearing an end.   And finally people started seeing that in most cases building browser based applications inside the firewall was just silly – especially when you consider the developer productivity achieved.  Let’s face it. It simply is much easier to build windows apps than it is to build browser based apps.    I call this the Winform phase of the Smart Client Revolution. 

In 2005, WPF shipped and took client apps to the next level.  WPF allows us to do things in design, usability, and UX that we never speculated would come so quickly.  In all honesty, WPF took me totally by surprise.  The paradigm was different, and difficult.  But the results were so compelling.  I call this Phase II. 

In my opinion, we are in the 3rd phase of the smart client revolution: The Silverlight phase.  Silverlight gives us the ability to build rich client applications and manifest them in the browser…cross platform!  It’s basically WPF for the browser.  Sure it’s a light version of the .NET framework, but at a 4.3 mb download there are tough choices to be made on what goes in and stays out. 

I am speculating here, but in phase 4 we are headed for a world where: 

·         The rich clients of WPF are going to collide with applications delivered in the browser.   

·         There will be no delineation between web and windows.    The tool (Visual Studio) will not delineate between the two types. 

·         Issues of cross platform will be overcome – at least for platforms and devices that have an SDK. 

·         We’ll have a full blown framework / next generation version of Silverlight where the technical and security challenges of access to the entire .NET framework over the web delivered in a browser will be overcome. 

 That’s a world I want to live in and it’s happening a lot quicker than I thought it would.  For now, the next 18 months of building WPF and Silverlight applications is going to be really fun.

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