Last week, I wrote about an interesting post by ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley in which Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft’s servers and tools business, seemed to be downplaying Silverlight, Microsoft’s Flash-like plugin for rich Internet applications. Muglia has followed up with a blog post of his own at Microsoft’s site in which he sounds more upbeat about Silverlight--although he’s equally high on HTML5. I don’t think there’s any basic conflict between what Muglia said in his interview with Mary Jo and what he says in his post. It’s a matter of spin, and he wanted to reassure Silverlight developers that the platform has a future.
There’s no question that Silverlight (and Flash) can do many things that HTML can’t today, and which HTML5 won’t be able to do anytime soon. As a user of Web sites, though, I’m way more excited about cool stuff that works in any modern browser than I am about cool stuff that requires a plugin from a particular company. The quality of the support for HTML5 and other new technologies in the Internet Explorer 9 beta is encouraging evidence that Microsoft’s Silverlight strategy doesn’t involve cramming the plugin down anyone’s throat.