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Mono Brings Silverlight to the Android Tablet and Phone

by Jonathan Allen on Apr 18, 2011 |

Under the mantra, “We love .NET more than Microsoft”, Mono has been making the promise of cross-platform .NET development a reality. First there was the native toolkit support for iOS and Android, now they are opening up the world of Android tablets to Silverlight developers.

Silverlight is a natural fit for the tablet format. It’s relatively lightweight runtime and rich UI capabilities makes it an ideal platform when you want a richer experience than you can get with straight HTML without the expense of writing native UI layers for each device. Unfortunately Microsoft has backed away from its cross-platform aspirations for Silverlight.

This is where Novell’s Mono saw an opportunity. After a week of long days and longer nights, members of the Mono team were able to port their Silverlight implementation for Linux to the Android tablet in time for Miguel’s “Mono: State of the Union” session at MIX. During this presentation the hardware acceleration features of Moonlight were demonstrated using a Motorola Xoom.

During the presentation Miguel said that Moonlight would only be targeted for the Android Tablet. Since then a video was posted on Jeffrey Stedfast’s blog showing the same demo running on a Nexus S phone.

It should be noted that Moonlight on Android is not yet a complete product. They are still in the early stages of porting the code and there is still much left to do. The fourth version of Moonlight on Linux is currently in preview with full support for Silverlight 3 and partial support for Silverlight 4.

In regards to iPad, a true implementation of Silverlight for the web is not currently possible. Running Silverlight in a browser would require JIT support, something that Apple doesn’t allow. Running out of the browser should be possible if someone were to port Moonlight to iOS using the same pre-compilation techniques that we use with MonoTouch. Such applications would then have to be offered via Apples App Store.

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