Microsoft unveiled the next generation of its Web technologies with beta releases of Internet Explorer 8, Silverlight 2 and Expression Studio 2 at At MIX08, the company's Web designer and developer conference.
Additional MIX08 news included a preview of Microsoft SQL Server Data Services, the announcement of a strategic relationship with Move Networks Inc., and DoubleClick?s preview of its Silverlight 2 software development kit (SDK) for in-stream advertising.
In Wednesday?s MIX08 keynote address, Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, shared his vision for the role of the Web and the services opportunity across Microsoft businesses. Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer team, demonstrated new features in Internet Explorer 8 for Web developers and end users, and Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division, highlighted advances in Silverlight, Expression Studio and Visual Studio that make it easier to deliver rich, connected experiences on the desktop, Web and beyond.
First public beta of Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 8 is the next version of Microsoft?s browser. Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 delivers increased interoperability, offers developers better predictability when designing sites, and will feature full support for cascading style sheet (CSS) 2.1 at release to manufacturing. Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 includes integrated developer tools to quickly debug HTML, CSS and scripts in a visual environment. Two new features, Activities and WebSlices, will enable developers to reach beyond the page and introduce news ways for users to stay connected to the content and services of their choice. Activities lets users highlight an address on a Web site, then see a map within the site with a single click. Users can also highlight a product name and see if the item is available on eBay .Another feature lets users save work done on a Web site to the local computer when an Internet connection goes down.
To download Internet Explorer 8 beta 1, developers can visit http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/ie8/default.mspx.
Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser is used by three-quarters of the world's Web users, far more than Mozilla's Firefox, which has a 17 percent share of the market, and Apple's Safari with 6 percent, according to data from Web site analytics company Net Applications.
The browser is also part of the ongoing battle between Microsoft and arch-rival Google.
Firefox is closely affiliated with Google, which in 2006 provided around 85 percent of the $66.8 million in revenue of Firefox's parent organization, the Mozilla Foundation.
Google distributes Firefox as its preferred browser software in a number of its products. Firefox counts 160 million unique active users of its browser alternative.
Silverlight 2 beta available for download; support for mobile devices
Silverlight 2 beta includes new features like Deep Zoom, more than 40 new controls and a new .NET base class library of functionality. In addition to the beta release, Microsoft announced plans to deliver Silverlight for Windows Mobile and to work with Nokia on support for S60 on Symbian OS, the world?s leading smartphone software, as well as for Series 40 devices and Nokia Internet tablets. To download Silverlight 2 beta and learn about Silverlight for devices, developers can visit http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight.
Expression Studio 2 beta
Today Microsoft released a beta of Expression Studio 2, designed to work with Visual Studio. Key new features of Expression Studio 2 include PHP support in Expression Web and support for Silverlight in Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Media Encoder and Expression Design. To enable designers to start immediately exploring the Silverlight 2, Microsoft also announced the availability of Expression Blend 2.5 March 2008 Preview. Microsoft also introduced the Expression Professional Subscription, which includes the full suite along with a number of other programs to help users get started. To download Expression Studio developers can visit http://www.microsoft.com/expression.
Microsoft also announced plans for a strategic alliance with Move Networks, a provider of live and on-demand long-form video content such as television episodes, news and sports programming. Silverlight would enable Move Networks to deliver an interactive, rich media navigation and integrated advertising on top of its hallmark high-quality online television experience that reaches all the way to HD. Move Networks? current customers include some of the largest media companies in the world such as ABC, FOX Broadcasting Company, ESPN, the CW, Televisa and others.
Microsoft SQL Server Data Services Preview
Microsoft also announced a new building-block software service, Microsoft SQL Server Data Services. The service is designed for developers building Web-based applications that need a scalable, easily programmable utility-based data store. MIX08 attendees will be able to register for a preview of SQL Server Data Services.