Feeds

Microsoft banks Windows Phone 7 on Silverlight

Downsizing a big opportunity?

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Microsoft's Flash-challenging Silverlight media player could be the hidden secret driving Windows Phone 7, the Redmond mobile OS unveiled this week.

Silverlight will be named the platform for building native applications in Windows Phone 7 and future generations of Windows Phones at next month's Mix conference, unnamed sources have told CRN.

Hoopla and hype of this week's debut aside, the actual technology details on Windows Phone 7 have been vague. Microsoft has not said what the operating system is under the covers.

Redmond has been careful to position this latest rev of its software and phones as "Windows Phone 7" and not Windows Mobile 7 - which is what everyone had been calling it prior to this week as it was the successor to Windows Mobile 6.5. For what it's worth, Microsoft also offers Windows CE for mobile devices.

Instead, Microsoft has told people to simply wait for more details during its annual Mix web and media development conference in Las Vega, Nevada.

Significantly, Microsoft is not sharing any information ahead of that event through the Mix web site, with all sessions on mobile carrying the same "More to come. Stay tuned," message. The company has not outlined what to expect from sessions on Silverlight.

If Silverlight is destined for Windows phones, it's been a long-time coming.

In 2008, Microsoft promised The Reg that Silverlight for mobile would arrive in the first-quarter of 2009 along with manufacturers porting Silverlight to and distributing Silverlight with Windows and non-Windows mobile devices. Only Nokia has committed, with the S60, as Microsoft has kept working on Silverlight for mobile.

Silverlight serving as Microsoft's platform for mobile has it's advantages. It would certainly support the kind of slick and polished interface for Windows smartphones Microsoft's chief executive Ballmer showed off, with buttons, sliders, touch and gesture for video, and audio and data-based applications. The current experience of Silverlight provides scaling, cropping, streaming, and crystal-clear deep zooming on pictures and text on the PC.

Silverlight 3, released last year, delivered the ability to work offline and run outside the browser without an additional download. It also offered support for touch-based input that's also been a feature of Windows 7, along with a set of new data-oriented grid controls. This came with the existing ability to detect bandwidth for stutter-free streaming and support for the H.264 and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) audio.

Silverlight fits into Microsoft's belief in what it calls the "natural user interface." This interface idea includes support for manipulation and gestures, ideas that have been put on the mobile map by Apple's iPhone.

Microsoft's runtime has plenty of attraction for Microsoft developers already targeting PCs and servers, developers who are potentially interested in mobile. Silverlight lets you re-use existing skills and code, as Silverlight apps are coded using Microsoft's Visual Studio.

Reg reviewer Tim Anderson wrote last year that Silverlight 3 is closer to what client-side .NET should have been: lightweight, high-performance, cross-platform, and supported by a rich graphical user interface framework that takes a sane approach to layout.

But there are some un-answered questions that complicate the notion of Silverlight becoming the runtime for Windows phones and that Microsoft would need to tackle.

The big question is whether Microsoft would let Silverlight become just like its Windows operating system or even Adobe's AIR. That is: Will Redmond let its media player and interface technology talk to the hardware and draw on local data, turning Windows phones into more than just phones but pocket-sized computers?

In some ways, this is a part of larger question inside Microsoft of how far it should take Silverlight, which sprung of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) for PCs. Should Silverlight be bulked up into a pseudo operating system that developers program to instead of Windows?

Interestingly, Microsoft will use Mix to draw a distinction between Silverlight 4 and WPF 4 Touch APIs at Mix.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Next page: Ubiquity, once more

More from The Register

next story
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google opens Inbox – email for people too stupid to use email
Print this article out and give it to someone techy if you get stuck
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.