Silverlight 2 Now Available
Silverlight 2, the latest version of
Microsoft's cross-platform browser plug-in for multimedia
applications, is now available.
Silverlight, which competes with
Web-based applications such Adobe Flash, promises to give developers
accustomed to the .NET Framework a familiar environment in 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
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
Candidate 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
Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.