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Microsoft: We'll develop Silverlight for iPhone

Will Silverlight prevail?

Microsoft has confirmed to TechRadar that it will look to build a version of Silverlight that will work on the iPhone, although there is concern about the royalties that Apple would charge.

With Steve Jobs stating that Flash is not up to the task on the iPhone, Microsoft’s Silverlight team is already thinking about the potential of getting its own rich internet application on to multiple platforms.

Nokia deal

A deal has already been done with Nokia to run Silverlight on its handsets. Expression project manager John Allwright told us that the company is looking to take the product across the whole gamut of mobile internet devices, and the arrival of Apple’s iPhone software development kit (SDK) had piqued the team’s interest.

“We’re interested in taking Silverlight across all available platforms, not just Windows Mobile handsets – as we have shown with the Nokia deal," said Allwright. He has just returned from MIX08, Microsoft's web developer conference.

“I don’t know a lot about it but the licensing model on the iPhone is challenging and that could be an obstacle.

“But in terms of the SDK, we will certainly take a look at it and see if we can get Silverlight running on the iPhone.”

Exchange of ideas

Although an Apple/Microsoft collaboration may seem unlikely at first sight, the two have recently got together to bring Exchange Server to the iPhone. And with Silverlight being offered as a free download, the potential for Silverlight as an application for the handset is large.

Apple's Steve Jobs has said that: "Users can download free applications at no charge to either the user or developer, or purchase priced applications with just one click". This would suggest that 70 per cent royalties on nothing is nothing, but there was an 'unforeseen' proviso in the categories that the company could exclude from their App Store.

What is for certain is that Silverlight is beginning to take a share of the rich internet application market from the ubiquitous Adobe Flash, and has the potential to become an important element of Microsoft's online offering.

“We’ve announced that we are up to 1.5 million downloads [of Silverlight] a day,” added Allwright. “We can debate the way the ubiquity of the app is measured until the cows come home, but that level of download is hugely encouraging for us.”

Silverlight’s second incarnation was announced at MIX08 and Allwright believes that it is a much improved product.

“The first Silverlight was all about HD video, but with the .NET framework and the set of controls in place for Silverlight 2 – it’s a much more viable platform.”