Tomorrow is the start of the major event that has been hyped as heralding the most significant changes to Windows in the past 15 years (the last was when Windows 95 was announced). There has been a lot of speculation around what will happen tomorrow. Some people claim it will be the death of Silverlight and even managed code, while others hope to see news about the next version of the Windows Phone operating system. While I am not able to attend the event, I will be watching the keynotes closely, collaborating with my associates in the field who are at the conference, and blogging my insights over the next few days.

I’ve been asked by many customers, fellow developers and Twitter followers to share my thoughts on the Build Conference and, as a Silverlight MVP, what I think about the future of Silverlight. I obviously have a stake in its future as I’m about 2/3 of the way through writing a book about building enterprise applications using Silverlight. So what are my thoughts?

Personally, I think there has been far too much read into the focus on HTML5 and JavaScript. I may be proven wrong, but based on what I’ve seen (and this is all public knowledge as I have no “insider information” about Windows 8) I believe the following will happen:

  • Microsoft will focus on Windows 8 as the platform for multiple devices and specifically address the tablet/slate competition space. To be convincing they’ll need to address speed and responsiveness, but likely they’ll focus on:
    • The richness of the OS – it’s not just a big phone, but the full Windows enchilada
    • Security and policies that are lacking in iPad
    • The new HTML5+JavaScript option for development to draw in the developers who traditionally don’t work with the Microsoft stack
    • Some lip service to writing it once and running it everywhere whether it’s the desktop, laptop, or slate
    • The touch-first features of the new OS
  • Microsoft will emphasize that managed code and Silverlight are not dead and will be fully supported on Windows 8. I don’t see the death of Silverlight any time soon (again, these are my predictions … it will be interesting to see what really happens)
  • They almost have to address the community of developers concerned about managed code and emphasize that it is not going away. I’m guessing they’ll talk about how managed code will work with Windows 8 and perhaps reveal some details about Xaml and C# either as Silverlight or something new for developing apps that target Windows 8
  • Microsoft will also address the unmanaged coders and focus on how C++ is coming back to front and center on the new platform, and likely cite some performance examples of why native code is important

Those are my predictions, for what they’re worth. I wanted to post these today so I could take a look back over the next few days to see if I was close or completely missed the mark. I’m looking forward to an exciting conference and sharing my thoughts with you as it unfolds!

Jeremy Likness