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Steve Albers

Most of us have seen the Windows 8 news regarding support for native HTML5/JavaScript applications.

The press has pushed this as a potential threat to the .NET developer community because JavaScript and HTML5 were called "our new developer platform". The press release refers to "Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.".Microsoft has also been hush on details related to these comments.

Before we buy the hype and start worrying about a world where we drop our Visual Studio licenses and buy DreamWeaver - let's think about how Windows 8 HTML/JavaScript applications would be implemented.

The HTML5 spec offers support for offline applications, but this won't offer the OS-integrated experience the press release refers to. MS has to be planning a way to extend access beyond the traditional JavaScript feature set.

Microsoft has a similar option today: HTML Applications or HTAs. They come close to required features, but HTAs need ActiveX or Java integration to provide the promised OS-level access. I'm guessing that Microsoft's future OS strategy isn't built on developers cranking out ActiveX controls or Java applets.

So where is Microsoft headed?

  • One possibility is that MS builds a new JavaScript framework from the ground up outside their current APIs.
  • Another idea would be for Microsoft to add support for JavaScript as a first class .NET language using the Dynamic Language Runtime.

A solution based on the DLR could be integrated into an HTA-like model to provide the promised access, along with the full range of features in .NET Framework. Security comes included in the Framework. And the work necessary to support this integration would tie in nicely with the effort MS has recently made providing better JavaScript and HTML5 support in Visual Studio 2010.

As a bonus, a full-fledged JavaScript DLR implementation would allow single language web solutions across client and server (think node.js) and would appeal to developers who are familiar with JavaScript but have less experience with the Microsoft tech stack.

We will all get a better picture after the Build conference in September. But in the mean time we know that Microsoft has a reputation for providing strong developer support. We might want to reserve our harshest judgement and consider that the press release could hint at new opportunities for .NET development.

Posted on Sunday, June 19, 2011 11:48 PM HTML5 | Back to top


Comments on this post: Windows8, JavaScript and HTML5 - A good thing?

# re: Windows8, JavaScript and HTML5 - A good thing?
Requesting Gravatar...
You can already run JavaScript on .NET

It's JScript.NET : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JScript_.NET
Left by Raynos on Jun 21, 2011 9:53 AM

# re: Windows8, JavaScript and HTML5 - A good thing?
Requesting Gravatar...
Hi Raynos,
JScript.NET has been out for a long time, but with limited (arguably decreasing) support from Microsoft, including no DLR implementation. In it's current implementation it does not satisfy the promises Microsoft made for Windows 8 - including HTML5 page interaction.

For people interested in the Windows 8 discussion, check out a really good article on Ars Technica: Windows 8 for software developers: the Longhorn dream reborn? http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/06/windows-8-for-software-developers-the-longhorn-dream-reborn.ars
Left by Albers on Jun 24, 2011 11:12 AM

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