There is a lot of panic in Microsoft eco-system caused by some rumors that Silverlight 5 will be the last of the family. Developers are crying about skills being buried and managers fearing about the future of in-house enterprise apps.

And everyone is guessing what will be Microsoft pushing in the segment currently occupied by Silverlight. Now we have two available options, the new guy in the block - the HTML 5, and the good old and trusty WPF. Won’t mention Windows 8 here as it’s way to the Enterprise is too long to be considered as an option.

So, everyone is watching the next move of Microsoft as there is not a clear winner – HTML 5 is too young to be considered seriously and WPF is too old to be considered as a long-time investment. When Silverlight was a competitor the choice was rather easy, now picture is much more blurred.

In my view

XAML & .NET will stay with us. Will it be WPF, Metro or anything MS will roll out for Desktop and LOB applications it will be based on those two pillars. At least for 7-10 years we’re assured.

I’ll make few guesses, what MS’s steps will be after Silverlight end will be announced (it will be interesting to read it in a year or two):

  • A promise that Silverlight 5 will be supported for next 3-4 years
  • Actively encouraging developers to migrate Silverlight apps to WPF
  • Newer versions of WPF will promote features previously hyped as Silverlight’s exclusives (in-browser apps, sandboxing, web deployment & updates and others) minus the ability to run in browsers on various platforms.

As for companies struggling with the choice right now (and it will probably true for near future), you’ll have to decide:

  • Interaction and Data intensive applications, Rich User Experience, Resource Intensive application, deep OS integration – embrace the WPF and be happy (if you don’t mind to lock yourself to MS and Windows).
  • Platform independent, high user base, moderately interactive UIs, presentation and manipulation of small amounts of data – your best bet is the Web: HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript will be your tools.

And if you still struggle with the choice the best thing you can do next is to look at your current development team. If they are more experienced and efficient with Web technologies you’re set. If they are mostly Desktop specialists then you’d want to explore their productivity to the max and get the release date closer. You’re sorted.

And the last word: don’t be a mono-disciplinary developer. Don’t lock yourself exclusively in Desktop or Web, Microsoft or LAMP or whatever. The day you’ll fail to pick, learn and use efficiently a new tool/framework will mean your career as a Professional Software Developer is done. Be open. Look around, there are so many amazing things in Software Development industry. Just pick something new and learn. It will be one of the best investments you can do in your future. You can do it right now…