If there's one thing that MS knows how to do, its to make software that the masses can use (you could call it commonware). The blogshere hype surrounding Silverlight has been quite enormous. And the reason i think that’s the case is that the gorilla of the industry has made its first serious move into other turf and its making waves.
I think the move is important is really important. Firstly like the title of this blog says its software that the masses can use. There is a bunch of .net developers out there already, but the ability to learn .net is apparently not that hard (based on the fact that one of my fellow authors, Ben taught himself how to do it). This is vital, critically important because it take RIA out of the specialist camps (Adobe Apollo etc) and the fringe festival camp who like think its cool to use difficult products (like Ubuntu). It makes it mainstream. (A quick disclaimer here. I do think the fringe festival is important because they drive innovation. (as per the quote by Mr Shaw) but they don’t get usability. They get technology for technologies sake. )
And as i’ve argued in other blogs, before web 2.0 can become mainstream, the tools to make it real need to be just that…mainstream. Usable by the masses. Sounds so simple I just cannnot understand why others don't get it.
This move also has the potential to keep a bunch of people in the MS camp. Now this could be a longer term strategic play, but it does by MS time to get its SaaS offering correct while maintaining those customers that sit earlier in the adoption curve than the true masses.
Related but also important. While maintaining its customer base, this also props up the legacy revenue streams that even this giant is going to need to make the transition to SaaS.