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Microsoft may halt development work on Silverlight plugin after next release

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Silverlight 5 looks like to be the last version released by Microsoft as it looks to transition toward HTML5 development.


It's not just Adobe that's altering its plans when it comes to browser plugins designed to play back rich web media — Microsoft's joining in too. New releases of Silverlight, Redmond's big competitor to Flash Player, are reportedly going to be abandoned after the launch of Silverlight 5, expected later this month. This information comes from multiple sources cited by the usually well-informed Mary Jo Foley. They don't know how long Microsoft will maintain support for Silverlight 5 or if there'll be any service packs, but it does seem like the company will be switching its operational focus to other areas and halting active development of Silverlight.

The move away from Silverlight isn't actually unexpected, as Microsoft had already indicated it considers HTML5 "the future" of the web and the introduction of WinRT in Windows 8 was already pushing in that direction, but it's still interesting to see both Flash and Silverlight being de-emphasized by their makers at about the same time. Neither of them is about to disappear, mind you, as Flash remains the primary way in which web video is consumed while Silverlight still has a role to play in Windows Phone app development. They do, however, look likely to play increasingly marginal roles in future software and web development. Some might call that a good thing.