Microsoft publicly launched Internet Explorer 8, released Silverlight 3 Beta, Expression Blend 3 Preview and continued progress in the cloud with updates to the Azure Services Platform at Mix09.
Microsoft's MIX09 conference for web designers and developers is held in Las Vegas.
Internet Explorer 8
IE8 is an integral part of Microsoft's eagerly awaited Windows 7 operating system and it can be downloaded from Microsoft's website
free for people using licensed Microsoft operating systems.
IE8, has been in public beta testing for about a year, but Thursday's launch marks its full public rollout.
Microsoft said that Internet Explorer 8 is easier to use, faster and offers leading-edge security features. A new study commissioned by Microsoft and the National Cyber Security Alliance and conducted by Harris Interactive Inc. shows that 91 percent of adults in the U.S. are concerned about online threats in the current economic climate, and 78 percent are more likely to choose a Web browser with built-in security than they were two years ago.
"With Internet Explorer 8, we are delivering a browser that gets people to the information they need, fast, and provides protection that no other browser can match," said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.
The security enhancements offer protection against existing and emerging security threats online. Microsoft claims that IE8 blocks two to four times more malware attacks than other browsers; cuts down on the time it takes to complete common tasks on the Web such as searching, mapping and sharing, including navigating 15 of the 20 top worldwide sites; and blurs the lines between the services they use daily and the browser used to access the Internet.
Another useful feature - one that Firefox lacks but Google 's new Chrome browser employs - keeps related tabs together. If a user clicks on a link, thereby opening a new tab, Microsoft tucks that tab right next to the original. IE8 also gives the tabs a common color. And in IE 8, when a Web page in one tab crashes, it doesn't bring down the whole browser.
Microsoft has been notorious for building Web browsers that only partially follow Web standards, or agreed-upon ways of reading Web designers' code and displaying the page as described. With IE 8, Microsoft has promised to adhere to standards. But since many Web pages, including Microsoft's own corporate sites, were built to work best with IE, the new version may "break" some pages. The fix? A button that reverts to the old, nonstandard way of operating.
In addition to offering improved security and privacy protections, Internet Explorer 8 is one of the fastest browsers on the market today, beating other top browsers in page load time on almost 50 percent of the 25 top comScore Inc. Web sites.
Othr features include accelerators, which make it faster and easier to perform common tasks online by making Web-based services such as ESPN.com, Live Search and Sina available for use directly from the page people are viewing; Web Slices, which makes favorite information from sites such as Digg, Yahoo! Mail, OneRiot, and eBay instantly available wherever someone goes on the Web; and
visual search suggestions: The Instant Search Box in Internet Explorer 8 enables real-time search from sites such as The New York Times, Amazon.com and Wikipedia, as well as sites from people?s own Favorites and History, complete with visuals and detailed information that saves time.
More information is available at the Internet Explorer 8 white paper
Microsoft said IE8 will run with Windows Vista, its latest operating system, and also Windows XP.
Microsoft has already announced that users of Windows 7 -- expected later this year or early next year -- will be able to turn key programs like Internet Explorer off, making it easier to use other browsers.
Silverlight 3 Beta
At the same event, Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Silverlight 3 Beta and Expression Blend 3 Preview. The company also demonstrated a number of solutions from partners including Netflix Inc., Bondi Digital Publishing, StackOverflow.com and KEXP. In addition, NBC Universal has again chosen Silverlight to deliver the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games on its official Web site, NBCOlympics.com.
Silverlight 3 helps rich Internet application (RIA) developers work faster with new graphics, animation and 3-D features, and more than 60 controls. Silverlight 3 also ushers in a new generation of high-quality and high-definition video experiences with true high-definition video in full-screen mode, with stutter-free live and on-demand video. Silverlight 3 also gives users more video format choices than ever before, including H.264, along with enhancements such as deep linking, to improve navigation in Silverlight content and automate search engine optimization (SEO) tasks. Finally, Silverlight 3 enables developers to create lightweight Web application experiences that can exist outside the browser.
Microsoft also announced Expression Blend 3 Preview, designed to improve designer and developer workflow and productivity. In the MIX09 keynote address, Microsoft demonstrated SketchFlow, a new capability that allows designers to quickly prototype the flow and composition of applications. In addition, Expression Blend directly supports the import of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files (including layers and paths), integration of live preview sample data, and a set of rich behaviors.
Microsoft also announced that Soyatec, a France-based IT solutions provider and Eclipse Foundation member, is making available a community technology preview (CTP) of Eclipse Tools for Silverlight (Eclipse4SL) support for Macintosh. With this Eclipse plug-in, Mac developers can create RIAs for the Silverlight platform. This project is funded by Microsoft as part of Microsoft?s continued commitment to openness and interoperability.
Microsoft also said that organizations such as AOL LLC, eBay Inc., BSkyB Ltd., Netflix Inc., CBS Sports Online, the European Commission, CareerBuilder.com, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Yahoo! Japan are building their next-generation rich applications using Silverlight.
Microsoft also released several components of the Microsoft Web Platform, an integrated set of tools, servers and frameworks that work seamlessly together and interoperate with popular open source applications and products that are used in the community. Included in the Microsoft Web Platform vision is the Web Platform Installer 2.0 Beta, a tool that simplifies the installation and update of Microsoft?s free Web products and other free Web components. This release allows users to download both PHP and the final release of ASP.NET MVC 1.0. Microsoft also launched the Windows Web Application Gallery, which allows developers to discover, explore and download applications and components that will help them build Web applications. Developers can submit free applications into the Gallery, offering communities, partners and independent software vendors access to millions of Windows developers worldwide for promoting their Web solutions. The Gallery includes links to popular applications such as Acquia Drupal, DotNetNuke and WordPress.
Finally, Microsoft also announced the availability of Microsoft Commerce Server 2009, which allows businesses to create improved user experiences across e-commerce channels.
In addition to platform investments to enable front-end experiences, enhancements to the back-end platform include updates to the Azure Services Platform. Today Microsoft announced new capabilities in Windows Azure including support for full trust to increase the level of flexibility for developers through support of native code, non-.NET language support via FastCGI, and geolocation to provide developers with the capability to host data and code across two U.S.-based datacenters; this enables customers to store data in multiple locations while helping ensure business continuity, and delivers enhanced performance benefits through reduced network latency.