During the opening keynote at TechEd Orlando last Tuesday, Soma announced the availability of Silverlight 2 Beta 2. As from now you can find the different downloads related to Silverlight 2 Beta 2. The best place to start is reading Scott Guthrie's post on the beta 2 release. As always, he gives a clear overview of what is new with some very interesting samples.

Links to main Silverlight 2 Beta 2 downloads

New and improved features

Go live license: there is now a commercial Go-live license for Silverlight 2 Beta 2. Hey, if NBC is going live on this version for the Olympics why shouldn't you?

Data: LINQ-to-JSON, ADO.NET Data Services support (Astoria) and other enhancements to make data handling easier. theADOGuy has a good post on Silverlight 2 and Astoria.

Networking: I'm glad there is now support for duplex communications (“push” from server to Silverlight client, yes, yes, yes! this one was a much requested feature), improved cross domain support and security enhancements and upload support for WebClient.

Rich controls: TabControl (new in Beta 2, check out Tim's post on this), wrapping and scrolling for the TextControl, and a new templating model called Visual State Manager (VSM) that allows for easier templating for controls. Check Christian Schormann's post for an introduction to VSM.

Deep zoom: there is now an XML-based file format for Deep Zoom image tiles, as well as a new MultiScaleTileSource that enables existing tile databases to utilize Deep Zoom. This means you will have to re-generate your Deep Zoom projects and adapt some of the code in the Silverlight implementation.

If you are interested in reading about other announcements that were made during the TechEd keynote, Gill has some details.