Microsoft, as widely expected, has made the first beta of Silverlight 3 available for download simultaneously with Day 1 of its Mix '09 conference.
Silverlight is Microsoft's competitor to Flash. The final version of Silverlight 3 is expected to ship before the end of 2009. Silverlight 3 adds support for H.264 video formats; better search-engine optimization support; and new hardware-based graphics acceleration and animation features.
In addition to the beta itself, Microsoft also has posted the software development kit for Silverlight 3, the Silverlight 3 tools for Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and a preview test build of version 3 of its Expression Blend design tool. The new version adds a capability, called SketchFlow, that allows for prototyping of the flow and composition of applications, as well as support for importing Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files.
Download links for all the new Silverlight and Blend bits are available via the "next best geek" blog. (Thanks to Silicon Alley Insider for the pointer.)
Microsoft also has made available a new preview release of .NET RIA Services, technology for bringing together the ASP.Net and Silverlight platforms, as Ars Technica is reporting. The new services provide developers with patterns for writing logic running on the mid-tier and provides support for common tasks, like data validation, authentication and roles.
The Mix '09 morning keynotes have started. Stay tuned for more over the next couple of days live from Las Vegas.