Tim Anderson has some commentary on WPF/E. He sums up his thoughts like this:
In the past Microsoft has been characterised by its single-minded focus on Windows. Why does it now want to create a cross-platform runtime engine? It is the clearest sign yet that it can no longer base its entire strategy on the Windows client monopoly.
Microsoft’s problem is not only Apple and Linux chipping away at its desktop empire, but more seriously the rising importance of two other computing platforms where it is a minority player. The first is the web, and the second is mobile devices. It happens that WPF/E is also intended for device use, though Microsoft will probably struggle even more than Adobe to get its runtime embedded onto third-party hardware.
It is completely untrue to say that Microsoft has been characterised by a "single-minded focus on Windows." The fact is that Microsoft ported the most important software in the world, other than Windows to Mac a long time ago. It's called Office. IE runs on Mac. Rotor runs on Linux. Microsoft has an award winning set of services written for UNIX computers. etc. etc. Yes, most of Microsoft's products are written for Windows. Making WPF/E available doesn't change that fact, nor does it change the fact that most of Microsoft's desktop apps are going to remain Windows only. So, the statement that, "It is the clearest sign yet that [Microsoft] can no longer base its entire strategy on the Windows client monopoly" are completely false. First off, Microsoft has never based its entire strategy on the Windows client. Secondly, those parts of Microsoft's strategy that do involve the Windows client are going to continue to do so.
Tim's comments are the result of misunderstanding of the nature of browser plugins like WPF/E and Flash. The very fact that Tim states that, "Potentially, WPF/E could combine the design appeal of Flash with the application strength of Java" shows that he really doesn't know what he is talking about. WPF (not WPF/E) is the platform that combines design appeal with application strength. Both Java and the .NET framework can do leaps and bounds more than either WPF/E or Flash and that isn't going to change. Browser plugins do not now, and will not any time in the future, be intended for building traditional desktop applications. They certainly don't support 3D functionality required for games and can't take advantage of huge portions of the platforms they are running on. These technologies are display only for the most part. They generally assume that you are going to have a web server somewhere to store data and query data and that your connection to the internet is going to remain active.
What are these client side browser plug-ins good at? Right now, they are best at augmenting existing sites with compelling media. WPF/E shows a lot of potential for replacing AJAX as a means of providing rich interactivity on the web, however, the kinds of apps we are talking about replacing are HTML / DHTML / Flash apps or your internal apps that probably could have been taken care of with HTML / DHTML / Flash to begin with. I'm sure someone will try to build a Word Processor with WPF/E. I'm sure someone will try to build games with WPF/E. I'm sure someone will try to build all kinds of abominable applications with WPF/E, but they aren't going to measure up to their client side counterparts (take a look at Office 2007, there is no way you could build it with WPF/E).