Microsoft Windows 8 demos spur developer worry

While Microsoft embraces HTML5 and JavaScript for Windows 8, developers wonder about Silverlight and .Net

By , IDG News Service |  Software, .Net, HTML5

As first pointed out by tech journalist Tim Anderson, users on Microsoft's own Silverlight forum posted a large number of entries fretting over the demonstrations. Channel 9, another Microsoft developer forum, saw a similar heated reaction.

One participant wrote that the demos were "potentially terrible news. It almost puts me in a state of shock. My biggest fear coming into Windows 8 ... was that they would shift everything to Silverlight and leave the full platform ... in the dust. To my utter shock, they did something much, much, much worse."

Microsoft said it would reveal more details at the Microsoft Build developer conference, to be held in Anaheim, California, in September. For many developers, however, that date is too far off. "It is doubtful that they can stave off developer anxiety until the Build conference in the fall," Hilwa said.

"It is too soon to draw any conclusions," said Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst with the firm Directions on Microsoft. Thanks to Microsoft's late entry into the growing tablet market, Microsoft is under a lot of pressure to get news about Windows 8 out quickly. As a result, the company may not have had the chance to fully coordinate all the messages it needs to deliver about the new operating system. Such mixed messages have led to a lot of "fear and knee-jerk responses," he said.

Sanfilippo doubts that Microsoft would abandon either .Net or Silverlight, though. The Windows development community is a "huge ecosystem," he said, made up of 600,000 developers. "They won't just orphan code with Windows 8," he said.

"As best I can tell, .Net continues to be a strategic approach to build apps, but clearly for Windows 8, they are also building on HTML5," Hilwa said.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, Pete Brown, a Microsoft community program manager for the Microsoft Silverlight forum, responded in the forum that, "We're all being quiet right now because we can't comment on this. It's not because we don't care, aren't listening, have given up, or are agreeing or disagreeing with you on something."

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