Microsoft shares a few tidbits on IE9 and (lots) more on Silverlight 4

Microsoft shared some information about what's coming in Internet Explorer 9 and Silverlight 4 during its November 18 Professional Developers Conference (PDC) keynotes.

Microsoft shared some information about what's coming in Internet Explorer 9 and Silverlight 4 during its November 18 Professional Developers Conference (PDC) keynotes.

If you want to see a real example of the difference in disclosure policies between Microsoft's Windows unit and its Developer Division, the level of information provided by execs with each division today made that quite clear.

As expected, Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky shared a few tidbits about Internet Explorer (IE) 9. Sinofsky emphasized that Microsoft will continue to play up privacy, user choice and responsible development with the next IE release. But he offered no information on when the team is planning to release a test build or the final version of the browser.

Sinofsky said during the Wednesday morning keynote that the IE team is about three weeks into the IE 9 project. (I've been getting tips that there already is a build of the product out there that is being used inside Microsoft, but it's not available to external testers yet.)

Sinofsky noted that Microsoft is fully aware that it needs to keep pushing on the standards front. He noted that IE 9 is currently passing 32 of 100 Acid3 tests (compared to Firefox at more than 70 and Opera at 100). He also made it clear that Microsoft is aware it needs to continue to do work to improve JavaScript performance with IE.

Sinofsky said IE 9 will support hardware-accelerated rendering and rounded borders, but didn't say a whole lot more about it. There are a (very) few more specifics about IE 9 on the IE Team blog today.

Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for .Net, had lots more to say about Silverlight 4, the next version of Microsoft's browser plug-in that competes with Adobe Flash.

Microsoft is making a public beta of Silverlight 4 available for download today, November 18. A single, near-final Release Candidate will follow and then the final version of Silverlight 4 will be out in the first half of 2010, according to Guthrie.

Guthrie said Silverlight 4 will be a major new release of the plug-in. He said the upcoming version will incorporate nine of the ten most requested features by developers.

Guthrie itemized and demonstrated some of the new features of Silverlight 4 -- which include everything from its support for webcam and microphone access, to the ability to run Silverlight inside the Google Chrome browser. Silverlight 4 also will include full support for Visual Studio 2010, native multicast support and improved printing, networking and reporting capabilities, company officials said. Silverlight Program Manager Tim Heuer has a full list of those Silverlight 4 features on his blog.

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who manages to download Silverlight 4 (servers are crawling, I hear) about what you think of the new beta of the product. Feel free to chime in in the talkbacks....