I was going to argue against Silverlight being the future, but yesterday my reserved copy of “Beginning Silverlight 2:” came in at the library and my copy of “Silverlight 2 in Action” arrived in the mail. So maybe the Colossal Cosmic Anvil of Fate is dropping on my head and telling me something.
I don’t think that in 5 years, every web developer will be programming in Silverlight or Flash. What I think is going to happen is that the web browsers are going to evolve and include more Silverlight/Flash like features. We already see that happening with isolated storage in FireFox and IE8. FireFox already has a rich network of extensions that allow developers to enhance services in many different ways, Google Chrome has released their draft extension specifications. IE8 and Safari still have a way to go, writing extensions for either is a non-trivial exercise.
There’s a reason that developers haven’t written these types of RIA’s using Flash for the past 10 years even though it has been possible. It’s not the lack of tooling, it’s the plugin. Even though the Flash plugin is a small enough download and easy to install, in my experience developers have been hesitant to build an application that is dependent upon a plugin. I don’t think that will change with Silverlight, even if Microsoft ships it in Windows out of the box or includes it as a mandatory update in Windows Update, there will be IT departments that either will disable it or won’t keep it up to date.
What do you think will happen?