LAS VEGAS-Microsoft announced the beta release of its Silverlight 2 cross-browser, cross-platform rich Internet application technology at its MIX conference here on March 5.
Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .Net Developer Division at Microsoft, announced the Silverlight 2 beta release during his portion of the opening keynote at the event. Guthrie also highlighted advances in Silverlight, Expression Studio and Visual Studio that make it easier to deliver rich, connected experiences on the desktop, Web and beyond.
Guthrie said Silverlight delivers rich, cross-platform media and “zero-click” applications that match the RIA experience while bringing the robustness and power of Microsoft .Net to the browser. The Silverlight 2 beta includes new features like Deep Zoom, more than 40 new controls and a .Net base class library of functionality. Microsoft was reluctant to give a target date for when a 1.0 version of Silverlight 2 would actually ship.
In addition to the beta release, Microsoft announced plans to deliver Silverlight for Windows Mobile and to work with Nokia on support for the S60 platform on the Symbian operating system, the world’s leading smart-phone software, as well as for Series 40 devices and Nokia Internet tablets. In addition, Silverlight 2 supports managed code, includes the core of the CLR (Common Language Runtime) and adds over two dozen user interface controls. Developers can download the Silverlight 2 beta and learn about Silverlight for devices here.
Guthrie said Silverlight 1.0 captured the attention of a large number of companies that sought to partner with Microsoft to add and deploy rich content on their Web sites, including NBC for the Beijing Olympics.
And over the last several months Microsoft has seen an increase in the number of Silverlight downloads, Guthrie said, and users have been downloading Silverlight to the tune of 1.5 million downloads a day. “We expect that to increase as we start rolling out Silverlight 2,” he said, noting that the Silverlight 2 beta would be available for download after his March 5 keynote.
In comparison, however, in a recent interview with Adobe Systems’ chief technology officer, Kevin Lynch, Lynch said Adobe’s Flash is downloaded up to 12 million times a day.
Guthrie said Silverlight 2 has seen key improvements in three areas: media support, RIA support and support for mobile devices. In terms of media support, Microsoft has improved the user experience by supporting high-definition video, improving total cost of ownership, and integrating with other platforms. Silverlight 2 also supports adaptive streaming, which assesses the capabilities of a client and adjusts the download rate based on available bandwidth.
“We made Silverlight extensible so you can not only use Microsoft’s advertising offerings but also the ad offerings of others,” Guthrie said.
Microsoft partners demo their plans for Silverlight
Guthrie said Microsoft is working with a broad set of customers and partners in the ad-serving, analytics, creative agency and content delivery network sectors. Microsoft announced a strategic relationship with Move Networks, and, onstage at MIX, Ari Paparo, vice president of rich media at DoubleClick, demonstrated his company’s Silverlight 2 SDK (software development kit) for in-stream advertising.
Content publishers that deliver video content will be able to use this SDK within a Silverlight environment to target, serve, forecast and report on video-based advertising.
“We’ll continue to invest in the Silverlight platform,” Paparo said.
Also on stage, AOL, Aston Martin, Cirque du Soleil, Hard Rock Caf??« and NBC Universal’s NBCOlympics.com gave demos of their Web applications using Silverlight to show its high-performance capabilities, integration with the .Net Framework and customizable advertising opportunities.
“NBCOlympics has always taken the lead in bringing Olympics fans immersive experiences through in-depth analysis and leading technology,” said Perkins Miller, senior vice president of Digital Media for NBC Sports & Olympics. “Working with Microsoft Silverlight, we will again push the boundary of sports coverage by delivering a new level of rich, high-quality viewing to the Web for the 2008 Olympic Games.”
Guthrie said developers can build Silverlight applications using any .Net language. The platform supports development with C#, Visual Basic, IronPython and IronRuby, and with Silverlight 2 any other .Net-supported language can be used.
He also said Microsoft will be announcing new Silverlight controls and making the source code available via open source, and the company is shipping a testing framework for Silverlight and open-sourcing that as well.
Moreover, Microsoft announced shipment of Visual Studio support that allows developers to create and debug Silverlight applications, and a preview edition of Silverlight tool support for Visual Studio and Microsoft’s Expression Blend design tool.