Should I Stay Or Should I Go - With Silverlight?

Despite the fact that there have been already an amazing amount of blog posts about the Silverlight announcement Microsoft made on the Mix coference in Las Vegas last week I will step into the round dance of blogging about it. Why? Because I realized in discussions that there is already some kind of confusion and uncertainty about the different versions of Silverlight.

People simply sometimes don't understand why there are two announcements at the same time regarding the same technology which are Silverlight 1.0 Beta and Silverlight 1.1 Alpha. And most of the time the difference stated is the fact that the one comes with a Common Language Runtime (CLR) which is capable of executing Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) using its Just In Time compiler (JIT) which compiles the MSIL code into native code. Since obviously this and the direct implication of this great feature is for sure the most important difference there are still a few other implications and facts around the differences between the two. Therefore I quickly compiled a short tabular comparison 1-pager showing some (and for sure not all) differences which should help having a more transparent view on both releases and help making a facts based decision on how to approach them.

And for all of you who are in doubt on if it's right to start now with 1.0 Beta, when there's already 1.1 on the horizon my personal suggestion would be to decide on how soon you want to get into production and need official support for the technology used within your product. If you want to have that already this year and you already have a decent amount of web development (Javascript) skill at hand you definitely should target for 1.0 Beta. This will give you a quite complete package, a reasonable timeframe to general availablity and the assurance that the release of Silverlight 1.1 doesn't break your code since 1.1 will support all of 1.0 with all the additions stated on the comparison chart.

If however you have plenty of .Net programming skills and want to benefit from all the good things that is related with .Net programming with respect to a structured development process (yes, definitely I do mean debugging and testing in particular ;)) and you have still some time to finally go into production, which obviously is no big thing in times of perpetual betas all over the place, then you definitely should aim for Silverlight 1.1 Alpha.
By the way, talking about development processes, check out Visual Studio Code Name "Orcas" which will give you a great development experience when creating Silverlight based solutions regardless if you implement your application logic and event handling code in Javascript (Finally Javascript authoring is becoming very comfortable) or a managed code programming language. Another recommended tool for Silverlight application design & development is the Expression Blend 2 CTP.

So and finally here is the Chart (Click on the picture to get a larger view):

Silverlight Version Comparison Chart