Microsoft Giving Up On Silverlight, Joining HTML5 Party

We now have further confirmation that Microsoft (s MSFT) is giving up on its Silverlight rich Internet application platform. Bob Muglia, Microsoft’s president in charge of server and tools, told ZDNet that the company is “shifting away” from Silverlight as a cross-platform development framework, and pushing the HTML5 web standard instead.

There’s been plenty of evidence to suggest this was the case. After all, with the launch of Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft has fully embraced and touted many of HTML5’s features. But it doesn’t just stop there; Microsoft will be leveraging HTML5 for the latest version of its Bing search engine, and is using H.264-encoded HTML5 video in lieu of Silverlight Smooth Streaming for delivery of live video on its Xbox 360 game console.

Microsoft will continue to develop and lean on Silverlight, especially for application development on its recently launched Windows Phone 7 operating system for mobile devices. However, Muglia told ZDNet, “HTML is the only true cross-platform solution for everything, including (Apple’s) iOS platform.”

That Microsoft would align itself with Apple, (s AAPL) especially in the embrace of a web standard, might seem peculiar to some. After all, the two software makers have been battling for decades in the PC space, and now are bumping heads in mobile as Microsoft tries to offer up a compelling alternative to Apple’s iPhone.

But it also makes sense that Microsoft would begin de-emphasizing Silverlight as a cross-platform development platform. Despite some of the advances Microsoft was able to push with its development, including HTTP and adaptive bit rate streaming, it wasn’t able to dethrone Flash as the de facto rich Internet application and video platform on the web. And with the emergence of HTML5, it was no longer a matter of playing second fiddle to Adobe, but lagging behind a web standard that was also being rapidly adopted.

To see what Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch has to say about adoption of HTML5 and its positioning against Flash, come see him speak at NewTeeVee Live on November 10 in San Francisco.

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