Silverlight 2, which provides developers with a means of delivering powerful exciting online applications, has been released.  This new release includes a range of features and tools that enable designers and developers to better collaborate while creating more accessible, more discoverable and more secure user experiences.

“Silverlight provides our customers with a fast, easy to use graphical means of finding their preferred routes and destinations around Europe from our website,” commented Dara Brady, Head of Advertising at Ryanair.com. “We have found that Silverlight’s ease of development has enabled us to deliver new route information on our site far more quickly than with previous technologies.”

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Pictured: Ryanair is using Silverlight on their website to provide visitors with an interactive means of finding different routes around Europe.

“The internet continues to grow and develop and part of this development is the creation of new ways to deliver content from information to pictures, videos and event how we navigate all that information,” said Sean Foley, Head of the Developer and Platform Group at Microsoft Ireland. “Silverlight is enabling developers and designers to bring amazing new experiences to web browsers, from video feeds to new applications. This new release of Silverlight makes it easier for developers and designers to deliver these new applications and services while ensuring consumers get the very best online experience.”

Microsoft also announced further support of open source communities by funding advanced Silverlight development capabilities with the Eclipse Foundation’s integrated development environment (IDE) and by providing new controls to developers with the Silverlight Control Pack (SCP) under the Microsoft Permissive License.

Silverlight adoption continues to grow rapidly, with penetration in some countries approaching 50 percent and a growing ecosystem that includes more than 150 partners and tens of thousands of applications. During the 17 days of the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, NBCOlympics.com, powered by Silverlight, had more than 50 million unique visitors, resulting in 1.3 billion page views, 70 million video streams and 600 million minutes of video watched, increasing the average time on the site (from 3 minutes to 27 minutes).

Continued Commitment to Openness and Interoperability

Microsoft announced plans to support additional tools for developing Silverlight applications by providing funding to Soyatec, a France-based IT solutions provider and Eclipse Foundation member, to lead a project to integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into the Eclipse IDE. Soyatec plans to release the project under the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0 on SourceForge and submit it to the Eclipse Foundation as an open Eclipse project.

Microsoft also will release the Silverlight Control Pack and publish on MSDN the technical specification for the Silverlight Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) vocabulary. The SCP, which will augment the powerful built-in control set in Silverlight, will be released under the Microsoft Permissive License, an Open Source Initiative-approved license, and includes controls such as DockPanel, ViewBox, TreeView, Accordion and AutoComplete. The Silverlight XAML vocabulary specification, released under the Open Specification Promise (OSP), will better enable third-party ISVs to create products that can read and write XAML for Silverlight.

“The Silverlight Control Pack under the Microsoft Permissive License really addresses the needs of developers by enabling them to learn how advanced controls are authored directly from the high-quality Microsoft implementation,” said Miguel de Icaza, vice president, Engineering, Novell. “By using the OSP for the Silverlight vocabulary, they further solidify their commitment to interoperability. I am impressed with the progress Microsoft continues to make, and we are extremely satisfied with the support for Moonlight and the open source community.”

Beyond funding development in the free Eclipse IDE, Microsoft currently delivers state-of-the-art tools for Silverlight with Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio 2. In addition, support is now extended to Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition, which is a free download.

“We wanted to build a cutting-edge, rich Internet application that enables our customers to search our vast database of content and metadata so they can access movie reviews, watch high-quality movie trailers, and either rent or buy movies from our new MovieLink application,” said Keith Morrow, chief information officer, Blockbuster. “Because Silverlight 2 now includes several new rich controls such as data grids and advanced skinning capabilities, as well as support for the .NET Framework, allowing us to access our existing Web services, we were able to easily maintain the high standards of the Blockbuster brand and bring the application to market in record time.”

Delivering Features for Next-Generation Web Experiences

Highlights of new Silverlight 2 features include the following:

  • .NET Framework support with a rich base class library. This is a compatible subset of the full .NET Framework.
  • Powerful built-in controls. These include DataGrid, ListBox, Slider, ScrollViewer, Calendar controls and more.
  • Advanced skinning and templating support. This makes it easy to customize the look and feel of an application.
  • Deep Zoom. This enables unparalleled interactivity and navigation of ultrahigh resolution imagery.
  • Comprehensive networking support. Out-of-the-box support allows calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS and standard HTTP services, enabling users to create applications that easily integrate with existing back-end systems.
  • Expanded .NET Framework language support. Unlike other runtimes, Silverlight 2 supports a variety of programming languages, including Visual Basic, C#, JavaScript, IronPython and IronRuby, making it easier for developers already familiar with one of these languages to repurpose their existing skill sets.
  • Advanced content protection. This now includes Silverlight DRM, powered by PlayReady, offering robust content protection for connected Silverlight experiences.
  • Improved server scalability and expanded advertiser support. This includes new streaming and progressive download capabilities, superior search engine optimisation techniques, and next-generation in-stream advertising support.
  • Cross-platform and cross-browser support. This includes support for Mac, Windows and Linux in Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

More information and details about Silverlight 2 are available by reading the Silverlight 2 fact sheet at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/silverlight/default.mspx.

Get Silverlight 2

Silverlight 2 is available for download immediately at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight. Customers already using a previous version of Silverlight will be automatically upgraded to Silverlight 2.