How to survive without Silverlight?

This week Microsoft announced that the company changes the strategy considering Silverlight. HTML 5 is the future for web applications and Microsoft will implement HTML 5 “very very very well”. Following this strategy Microsoft will use Silverlight for the new Windows Phone 7 operating system only. One day later Microsoft puts in perspective that this information is not completely correct. Now, the situation is a little bit confused concerning the future and strategy of Silverlight. How does it go on with Silverlight?

Just to this time, we are discussing the strategy of application development in my company. I do not need to mention, that we aim to move our products to the web. But the question is: How should we do?

Some years ago, we decided to use the Microsoft .Net platform, not at least because our customers mostly use Microsoft Windows for desktop and server computers. But another very very important point was the high grade of integration of the Microsoft .Net development tools and the possibility to develop Windows applications very fast. (Of course, other facts were the high experiences and knowledge of our employees. 😉 So we’d like to use Silverlight for web applications because we can stay in the same development environment, using the same functionality for developing frontends independent of whether it is a Windows Forms application or a web application. Furthermore, we could reuse a lot of existing code when migrating one of our products to the web.

But which situation do we have now? Yes, it make sense to aim HTML 5 as the base of web applications and so another Flash-like framework does not make sense anymore. Why to force an customer to install a browser plugin if he can have all the same in web applications without any plugin? I think it is a very valid point. But it is not very clear, what the real strategy for Silverlight is at the moment. And that leads to some new questions when defining our strategy. To which technology could we go with less efforts in moving the exiting code, coaching the developers in the new technology and having all the cool stuff for rapid development, Microsoft Visual Studio provides?

How to survive without the benefits of Silverlight (staying in C#, (re)using xaml, using web services, out-of-browser functionality, Microsoft Office automation etc.)? What do you think?

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