While Silverlight didn't get the leading role in either the day one or day two Mix '11 keynotes (much to the chagrin of some developers), there was some Silverlight news at the Microsoft developer/designer conference.
Microsoft is making available a public beta of its Silverlight 5 development tool/runtime, as of April 13. The beta will be available at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight.
In December, Microsoft officials outlined some of the 40 new features the company planned to deliver with Silverlight 5, the final version of which is due out before the end of calendar 2011. The bulk of those features are focused around making Silverlight a development platform for rich media and business applications.
At Mix, Corporate Vice President of .Net Scott Guthrie's comment "Let's switch gears now and talk about Silverlight for the browser," got huge applause from the Mix '11 keynote attendees. (Microsoft officials said this fall, the company’s cross-platform runtime play is morphing, with HTML5 being the new way the Redmondians plan to tackle the cross-platform challenge, going forward -- a positioning statement that left many Silverlight developers feeling abandoned.)
Microsoft execs detailed on April 13 more of the features coming with Silverlight 5. Among those features:
- Reduced network latency by using a background thread for networking.
- XAML parser improvements that speed up startup and runtime performance.
- Support for 64-bit operating systems
- The ability to do some of the “trusted” features in Silverlight in the browser
A number of these features are not in the beta, but which are still on tap for Silverlight 5, according to Microsoft, including vector printing, power awareness for things like full-screen apps, fluid user-interface transitions and 64-bit support for the plug-in, among others.
Microsoft execs also said at Mix '11 that full Silverlight 4 support is coming to the Windows Phone 7 platform with the Mango update coming this fall. Microsoft execs also demonstrated Silverlight and XNA melded together, allowing developers in the Mango timeframe to use a combination of the two tools when writing a single app.