At MIX 07, Microsoft Details Silverlight

At its Web developer-oriented MIX 07 Conference in Las Vegas Monday, Microsoft provided more details about its Silverlight browser plug-in and released the first public beta of the technology. Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie discussed Silverlight during his keynote address at the show, and announced that the company will be infusing it with .NET-based programming hooks so that millions of Windows developers can move their skills more easily to the Web.

Silverlight is a cross-platform browser plug-in that works with Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. At the simplest level, this plug-in allows Web developers and designers to add high-resolution, high-quality animation and video to their Web sites. But with Monday's announcement, it's clear that Silverlight is both deeper and richer than a simple browser plug-in. Thanks to an integrated (and cross-platform) implementation of the .NET Framework, Silverlight will enable developers to create rich applications that can exist inside the world's most popular Web browsers and work on both Windows and the Mac.

"Silverlight will enable higher quality and better applications in the browser," says Microsoft director of product management Forest Key. "Silverlight is a factored version of .NET that is optimized for the Web and simple deployment. It carries with it proven technology, access to a variety of languages for development, such as JavaScript, VB, C#, Ruby and Python, WPF \[Windows Presentation Foundation\] support for controls and code-reuse, AJAX integration, and more. We are providing a highly integrated set of tools that facilitate new levels of collaboration between designers and developers and allows them to build amazing experiences while addressing the 'lost in translation' issue that is so common at most organizations."

At MIX 07 on Monday, Microsoft announced the availability of the first beta version of Silverlight 1.0, and laid out a roadmap for the product and other related technologies. Microsoft is also offering an alpha version of Silverlight 1.1, which is the version of Silverlight based on the .NET Framework. In addition, the company announced that Expression Studio--essentially a Visual Studio-like suite of solutions aimed at Web and creative designers--is now available.

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