Microsoft has announced the next version of its programmable web browser plug in Silverlight. This third iteration of the product is said to feature support for an array of graphical-based elements to make online experiences more visually impressive.
Mircosoft is positioning Silverlight 3 as a route for web developers and designers to build rich Internet application (RIA) with heavier use of more complex graphics, simulated 3D rendering and animation techniques. The company says that Silverlight 3 also represents a new level for high-quality HD video. True high-definition video in full-screen mode alonsgside stutter-free live and on-demand video is now possible.
I spoke to Microsoft’s Mark Quirk, the company’s product manager for web platform technolgies, to get a heads up on the news prior to this afternoon’s announcement. “Silverlight 3 works hard to provide a better web experience by incorporating hardware support for video rendering. With GPU support, developers are able to build impressive animation effects that may have been too processor intensive to achieve inside of a browser before now,” said Qurk.
“For developers and designers alike, what we hope will be attractive are the 60 plus ‘controls’ (or pre-built components if you prefer) that will provide a short cut to online application elements such as a calendar, a slider control or scrolling bars for example. Silverlight 3 also enables developers to create lightweight web application experiences that can exist outside the browser and has additional codec support including H.264 for video,” said Quirk.
This news broke at the company’s MIX developer and designer conference in Las Vegas during corporate VP Scott Guthrie’s keynote. Microsoft Silverlight 3 Beta is joined by Expression Blend 3 Preview and continued updates to the its Azure Services Platform for the cloud.
Touching on the other news, Microsoft Expression Blend 3 Preview is a workflow and productivity tool with a new function called SketchFlow for prototyping the flow and composition of applications to get early user feedback.
Microsoft says customer adoption is good and that, “Hundreds of thousands of developers and designers are using Silverlight.” The company itself is eating its own dogfood and using Silverlight for more than 200 of its own ‘products’ and web sites including MSN, Windows Live, Microsoft Office Online and Virtual Earth. Developers and designers can learn more at Microsoft’s Silverlight online learning resource portal.