The Mono Project, an open-source initiative sponsored by Novell, has announced the release of Moonlight 2, an open-source Linux implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight cross-platform browser plug-in and rich Internet application platform.
In addition to announcing the release of Moonlight 2, Microsoft and Novell also announced the expansion of their collaboration agreement on Moonlight to include support for Moonlight implementations of Silverlight 3 and Silverlight 4. As part of this agreement, Microsoft will deliver new test suites and specifications for Silverlight 3 and 4 to Novell, said Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer platforms at Novell. The Silverlight plug-in is used for designing, developing and delivering visually rich applications and experiences on and off the Web.
Also, in response to feedback from the community, along with Novell's release of Moonlight 2, Microsoft has also extended its Patent Covenant to End Users of Moonlight. The covenant is no longer limited to users that obtain Moonlight from Novell or its channel, but now covers users who obtain Moonlight from any third party, including other Linux distributors. Media Codecs for MP3 and VC1, and in the future H.264 and AAC, are supported through the Microsoft Media Pack, a Microsoft-delivered set of media codes that offer optimized and licensed decoders to every Linux user who obtains Moonlight from Novell.
"First and foremost, we're 100 percent committing to support open-source software," said Brian Goldfarb, director of Web & User Experience Platforms for Microsoft. "The covenant now extends beyond Novell and down the chain so any distribution, whether Debian or Ubuntu or whatever can use Moonlight and be covered by the covenant. Moonlight is now a true part of the open Web."
"We had to work as a bridge between the polite comments on the Internet and the way people perceived the patent covenant. They said it's good that you're doing Moonlight, but Novell is getting preferential treatment. That was not our intention but was what people saw. So we wanted everybody on the same page. So this allows users of Red Hat, Fedora or Ubuntu to take Moonlight and make changes or do improvements...and they can take that Moonlight code and distribute with protection."
Moonlight development is quickly catching up to Microsoft Silverlight with each release. A preview release of Moonlight 3 will be made available in the first quarter of 2010 with a final release scheduled for the third quarter of 2010. Moonlight 4 will follow shortly thereafter.
De Icaza said Moonlight 3 should be completed around the June 2010 time frame, "but feature-wise, everything you need to watch the [Winter] Olympics will be ready before the Olympics." He said the Moonlight team will be adding new Silverlight 3 features to Moonlight, "based on the applications that have the most impact. So first we'll support the Olympics and then we'll do Bing Maps."