By Bob Walsh

I’m back from Mix07, trying to a) build out a Mac Book Pro (my first mac in 13 years; I think I’m in love!) as my ultimate Vista PC (yes, I did say that), salvage what I can from my fatally wounded Sony laptop and most importantly mentally digest the implications of Microsoft’s Silverlight announcements at Mix07 for micro-ISVs. I’m still mulling over Silverlight and other items, but as I read through this thread and this thread at Business of Software and I was struck by just how much misinformation is getting cast about.

First off, if you are a micro-ISV, head over to Michael Lehman’s post re Silverlight. Yes, Michael is a paid evangelist for Microsoft – he’s also a very experienced micro-ISV, smart guy and a friend. He is not just blowing Microsoft Marketing Smoke in your face – he’s right. Silverlight and WPF are going to remake what we think of as software, and micro-ISVs have the most to gain precisely because of their size, agility and lack of investment in big fat legacy product lines.

Obviously, all this stuff – Silverlight, Expression Studio, Orcas, even .NET 3.0 (WPF, WF, WCF) are totally in the early days: Silverlight 1.0 will ship this summer, 1.1 is in alpha, Orcas is beta, Expression is 1.0 and pushing to 2.0 already. Early days are good: that’s the best time to get into a new technology if you are going to make money with/from that technology. And, I have not had time to play/learn anything more past what I learned at the show, although I’m really looking forward to that once (ahem) I get through a few IT issues.

The reason I’m writing you this post is what I see are the reasons Silverlight et. al. is worth your attention as a micro-ISV. Here goes:

  • While at Mix07, I talked to two developers who between them have authored 27 programming books. I’m not naming names because I did not tell them I was going to post about them. What struck me was they both said the same thing: Silverlight is going to be a disruptive opportunity as was .NET. That got my attention.
  • Silverlight means I can write VB .NET applications for the web, not (hated) ASP.NET. That got my attention. And by the way if you are a Ruby programmer you can write .NET now and I’ll bet before the end of the year you will see a fully supported PHP .NET.
  • There’s a Silverlight Chess demo with source code comparing processing speed of Silverlight (managed code/CLR) to JavaScript. Silverlight is roughly a thousand times faster. That got my attention. Try the demo, look at the source code – and keep in mind Silverlight is beta!
  • There was one demo – Metaliq’s Top Banana video editing Silverlight application. Build in one month, from beta/alpha bits, a 50k (sic) download. Able to run/edit 9 running videos at the same moment. On a PC or a Mac (or Linux) absolutely no difference. That got my attention. Watch the video (especially at 4:04!).
  • Time to install Silverlight on a clean XP box (no .net, no nothing): 4 to 10 seconds. So total time my prospective customer can go from “What is this?” to “I must buy it now!” – 10-12 seconds? It is the best damn install experience I’ve ever seen on a PC (Don’t know how it compares to a Mac – haven’t installed anything but the first updates yet!)
  • Best damn looking interfaces I’ve ever seen. Expression Blend is an awesome interface editor for both Silverlight and WPF. That got my attention bigtime. Looks matter.
  • Michael made some excellent points – Silverlight is an app that is served from your server running on their PC or Mac, with localized data storage if you want. Say goodbye to being screwed over by the cracked/warze crowd. That got my attention, as did being able to do software by subscription, software based on ads (Silverlight can go back and forth between living in a Div on you web page to full screen – while playing video with your controls overlaid without dropping a frame).

Undoubtedly over the weeks and months ahead you will read comments here, discussions at BOS, thumbsuckers by professional trade reporters and for all I know Jay Leno monologues disparaging Silverlight. I assert that a year from now the people trashing Silverlight will be wrong and the people excited by it and building apps with it will be right. And I predict that Silverlight + WPF + Window/Office Live Services + Amazon Web Services (3S, C2 etc) will have made it possible for thousands of micro-ISVs to run rings around traditional software and traditional software companies and make money hand over fist.

That’s why this new Microsoft stuff has my full, undivided attention – and what I suggest is worthy of your time as well.

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1 Comment

  1. Bob,
    I’ve heard a lot about Mix07 and Silverlight lately, but not being in a Microsoft environment day-to-day, yours is the first blog entry that really struck a chord for me and gave me an idea where to go next to learn more. Thanks.
    Silverlight demos on MacBook Pro have been impressive so far: I was able to simply click on install, got the core package installed on my MacBook pro in no time at all and all the demos are working great. Definately will be keeping an eye on what folks build with this.

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