Another interesting announcement here at PDC is that Microsoft is creating a subset of their cool, fancy pants UI layer (formerly code-named Avalon, now WPF) on other platforms, including the Mac! In fact, one of the demos involved showing vector graphics rendered in Safari using a Microsoft plug-in.

This subset, called WPF/E, will be powered by XAML (their XML dialect for representing the UI) and JavaScript. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s right — Microsoft also announced a Dashboard clone for Windows Vista. Interesting…

Microsoft will never port .NET to other major operating systems, but to have a subset of Avalon available on other platforms is a bit of a curveball. In fact, in light of Firefox and Safari’s upcoming support of SVG and Canvas (and in the future, 3D functionality), this move makes sense; Microsoft wants to provide their own proprietary solution to cut off this new cross-platform initiative.

Also, Microsoft’s Ajax framework, Atlas, will target WPF/E. The WPF/E subset of Avalon will include all of the Avalon features (vector graphics, animations, etc.) less 3D, some of their XPS features (XPS == Microsoft PDF clone), and hardware acceleration.

In a WPF/E session, someone asked if Microsoft’s WPF/E plug-in will be available in Firefox; the speaker dodged the question (“We hope such support will emerge…”).

My first reaction to WPF/E is frankly disappointment that they wouldn’t just embrace SVG, though what I’ve seen of 2D XAML makes it look a while lot like SVG with different attribute names and various other differences. I wonder if XSLT will do the trick there…

Lack of many of the Avalon features in WPF/E, notably hardware acceleration, really makes it seem that the strategy is to make apps work on other platforms, but make them work poorly compared to Windows — motivating users to switch to a Windows platform.

7 thoughts on “Avalon Everywhere? Cross-platform Microsoft?

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