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A first look at Codename: Windows 8 OR "Will there be Silverlight in Windows 8?"

Today at D9, Microsoft opened up about Windows 8 with a bang.  Not only does does Microsoft FINALLY have a viable operating system for tablets/slates, but they also announced that the gorgeous new Windows Phone 7/Xbox 360 UI will heavily leverage HTML 5 and Javascript.  This really comes as no surprise since IE9 has hardware acceleration and can push beatuful HTML 5 graphics just like a desktop application.  To coincide with this, Microsoft has also announced that their wildly popular Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC) will now be rebranded to Build.  The new UI looks absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to play with it live on a tablet.  Take a look at the video to see it in action:

  • Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.
  • Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.
  • Fluid, natural switching between running apps.
  • Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Window
  • Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.
  • Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.

HTML 5 apps?  What about WPF and Silverlight??  Oh no!!!

Twitter exploded with people freaking out about this.  When I would answer that HTML5 is geared toward the new UI and there was still the original interface, so “YES!”, I was greeted with several “You didn’t answer my question”.

OK. Let’s think about this.

You do realize why if you call HTML “code” on Stackoverflow you will be greeted with a kind “actually, sir, it’s called markup”, right?  There is a significant performance difference between parsing text and running compiled code.  There will always be apps and situations that need compiled code.  Yes, HTML5 has access to the hardware.  Yes, that makes them fast like regular apps, but there’s only so much you can do.  The HTML specification is being debated day in and day out.  It is slow to change.  Microsoft’s WPF technology moves as fast as Microsoft can design and develop it.  They have full control over the .NET framework and nobody can hold them back except for themselves.  It’s totally different and while HTML5 is a great cross-platform technology and will give many extremely talented designers the ability to now code for Windows 8, they are inherently different, and will be used as such.