Silverlight 2 takes center-stage

Silverlight 2, the latest version of Microsoft's cross-platform
browser plug-in for multimedia applications, will be available on
Oct. 14, company officials announced on Monday.


Silverlight, which competes with Web-based applications such
Adobe Flash, promises to give developers accustomed to the .NET
Framework a familiar environment with which to create rich Internet
applications. Silverlight uses a subset of the .NET platform, but
it doesn't require that .NET be installed on a Web site's server to
work, according to Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's corporate vice
president for the .NET Developer Division.


Guthrie emphasized Silverlight's strength in enabling "premier
media experiences." For example, this summer, Silverlight was
deployed to support more than 70 million videos for the Olympic
games, typically streaming at 1.5 megabits per second, Guthrie
said. Silverlight features what Microsoft calls "adaptive
streaming" technology to ensure video quality. The app is also
being used by CBS sports, Blockbuster Video, Yahoo Japan and
Toyota, he added.


For developers, Silverlight has the advantage of supporting
virtually any programming language, Guthrie said. The user
interface can be controlled at a high level. It also has a speed
advantage over JavaScript. Guthrie added that in some tests,
Silverlight is "a thousand times faster than JavaScript in the
browser."


Microsoft is also broadening the accessibility of Silverlight to
developers by funding a project led by Paris-based Soyatec that is
integrating Silverlight into the Eclipse development environment.
The open source effort will be licensed under Version 1.0 of the
Eclipse Public License. The integrated solution is expected to be
available "in the second half of 2009," according to Microsoft's
announcement. In the meantime, a technology preview is available
here.


In addition, Microsoft plans to supplement Silverlight's
controls by releasing a Silverlight Control Pack later this month
under the open source Microsoft Permissive License. The XAML
(Extensible Application Markup Language) vocabulary is also slated
for release under the Microsoft open specification promise.
Developers typically use XAML, which is part of the .NET Framework,
to create user interfaces.


While the open source announcements were news, Guthrie had
nothing to say at this time about Moonlight, an open source Linux
version of Silverlight under development by both Microsoft and
Novell.


Developers who downloaded the Silverlight ReleaseCandidate version distributed late last month will not find
much new in Silverlight 2, as there were no new API changes or
behavioral changes between the two versions, Guthrie said.


In response to questions, Guthrie said that there were initial
problems running Silverlight in the Google Chrome browser. However,
those problems have been fixed in the latest developer release
version. While Microsoft would welcome adding Silverlight to
Apple's iPhone, Apple has no plans to enable Silverlight or Flash
to run on top of its phone application. Google's phone solution is
more of an open platform, though, Guthrie added.


Individual end users with an earlier version of Silverlight will
automatically get upgraded to Version 2, Guthrie said. The updates
aren't automatic for IT admins receiving distributions through
Windows Server Update Services. Silverlight 2 enables development
through Visual Studio 2008, Expression Studio 2 and the free Visual
Web Developer Express Edition.


About the Author

Kurt Mackie is the online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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