Microsoft has delivered a new edition of Silverlight annually since it introduced the technology in 2007. Microsoft has invested heavily in its development, and some of its resources have been applied to territory that is usually occupied by its development partners.
Silverlight is a subset of the .NET framework that it optimized for building Web applications. .NET developers follow the programming model that they are accustomed to, which includes a standard set of controls provided by Microsoft.
Microsoft shipped more than 130 controls in Silverlight 3. That is an unprecedented amount, because Microsoft typically includes 15–20 controls “for people to play with” when it ships a new platform, said Lino Tadros, CEO of Falafel Software.
Tadros said that the breadth and volume of controls that Microsoft has shipped is “alarming” to its development partners. “It usually left a grid [control] for third parties to take care of…Partners cannot create the [basic] controls; Microsoft has covered it.”
Further, the high quality of Microsoft’s controls is “surprising,” Tadros added. Microsoft shipped a “basic” grid with ASP.NET and Windows Forms, but its Silverlight control is “well designed and scalable,” doing “90%” of what third-party vendors’ products do, he said.
Microsoft has a “responsibility” to deliver baseline controls for developers to access technical functionality, said Brian Goldfarb, director of Web/UX Platform and Tools at Microsoft. “There is also a competitive landscape in the RIA space,” and Microsoft is responding to customers and competitive demands, he added.
“Partners innovate on top of controls…Microsoft is deeply committed to the partner ecosystem, and the fact that it exists at all is a testament to that,” said Goldfarb.
Tadros does not believe that Microsoft is attempting to compete with its own partners. Rather, Adobe is the target. “Microsoft is spending a lot [of resources] with companies to make sure that websites and application are running well, and to get the [Silverlight] plug-in installed.”