As time passes, more software is targeted for the Web, and more software is expected to deliver high-quality—sometimes cinematic—experiences. However, the effort involved in creating such user interfaces has been far too difficult in the past.
If you're a software developer, you might be skeptical about the need for "eye candy" beyond what HTML provides. But like it or not, having an engaging user experience matters, whether you are creating a public consumer-facing site, or a simple intranet application for your manager. You can blame the unrealistic software on movies and on TV, or you can blame real-world software that is starting to catch up to Hollywood's standards! Indeed, modern software has more visual polish than it used to. You can see it in traditional operating systems (such as Mac OS X and, more recently, Windows Vista), in software for devices such as TiVo or Xbox, and of course all over the Web thanks to Adobe Flash. Users have increasing expectations for the experience of using software, and companies are spending a great deal of time and money on user interfaces that differentiate themselves from the competition. Microsoft understands this, and it's apparent in its latest technologies—first on the desktop with WPF, and now on the Web with Silverlight.