There are lots of technical bits flying around all over the place that will probably be better summarized a week or so from now. I see XAML as the special sauce, the most important thing that was announced. What is XAML? It’s XML Application Markup Language. Or at least, that’s what it is now – according to Google, it used to be Transactional Authority Markup Language. But on to Microsoft’s XAML: it is XML markup that can define everything from UI to applications.
So, now that this has been revealed, everyone has to ask themselves: what does this mean for [insert-favourite-operating-system]? Read on…
First of all, it’s not like Microsoft has come out with a completely new animal. This is much like Mozilla’s XUL – a markup language that goes beyond HTML to create applications indistinguishable from desktop applications.
Much like Windows-only code in IE (and access to the IE dlls running on Windows), XAML will enable many types of rich media apps…on a Windows desktop. Goodbye, Flash. So now what? What about other platforms? The way I see it, there are a couple of options.
Write XAML-compatible engines: basically, applications/extensions/plug-ins/whatever that enable non-Microsoft clients to run XAML code. I imagine that a lot of XAML will have hooks directly into Longhorn, so it may not be possible to duplicate a lot of the functionality. But, if Microsoft has to add XAML support to older versions of Windows, it might still be feasible.
Develop a compelling alternative platform: I really do think this is XUL – albeit with 2 years of development behind it. There may be different types of “XUL containers” (that is, apps that can run/display/interact with XUL code on the desktop), but the most likely candidate is the browser on non-MS platforms…especially since Mozilla can do this today.
Actually, I think both options will go ahead. Just like .NET has Mono (although neither seem to have gotten very far), there will be a rush to reverse-engineer XAML on alternate platforms. At the same time, XUL development will get a kick in the pants.
I think, perhaps, that someone knew. How else to explain that the newest version of Safari supports XUL? (just a tiny part, but it’s a start). So I think we see that Apple has firmly cast it’s vote into support XUL as it’s answer. This may very well go back into the Linux/open source world with WebCore (based off of Konqueror’s KHTML library).
Time to start learning XUL…