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Microsoft's IE 9, Silverlight 4 and the whiff of lock-in

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The essential guide to IT transformation

Radio Reg Basking in the afterglow of the recently released Windows 7, Microsoft has rallied the faithful to share the love at its annual Professional Developers' Conference in Los Angeles, California.

Traditionally, PDC has been about looking ahead and charting the roadmap of the next few years. Previous years saw Windows Vista and then the Azure cloud. Though this PDC was short on big vision, it still gave a pretty good idea about where Microsoft is headed.

There was early code for the next version of Microsoft's Flash challenger, Silverlight. A little digging revealed that this supposedly cross-platform player is now showing signs of being, ahem, "optimized" for Windows, leaving Linux and Mac to fend for themselves. Sure, cross-platform software runs differently on different systems, such as Firefox on Windows and Mac. But adding features specifically to take advantage of one platform over the other? That's different.

Then there was the next version of Internet Explorer, version 9. Microsoft sure talked pretty about greater support for standards and an incrementally better Acid3 score. But Microsoft is already talking about a "balance between standards and the real world."

On the cloud, meanwhile, Microsoft has stripped out all the application, programming, and framework vision it promised at PDC 2008 - stuff we were told would differentiate Azure to deliver a hosted computing and storage service. Ever heard of Amazon? Even the pricing is similar. So much for the "big" PDC vision, and no-wonder PDC attendees felt a little deflated.

Reg software editor Gavin Clarke and All-about-Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley strip back the PDC marketing speak to reveal web and rich-internet application thinking that dates from Microsoft's old days of building client/server software - and look at what Microsoft didn't say was coming.

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The essential guide to IT transformation

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