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Friday, December 03, 2010
Microsoft Details Silverlight 5

Today at the Silverlight FireStarter event, Microsoft unveiled the next release of Silverlight.

Silverlight 5 adds significant new features and capabilities, and enables developers to create rich applications across browsers, desktops and devices.

A Silverlight 5 beta will be available in the first half of next year, and the final release will ship in the second half of 2011.

Microsoft claims that Silverlight has been embraced by companies in order to create premium media solutions. In the last few months companies like Canal+, TV2, and Maximum TV launched both live and on-demand Silverlight solutions.

Silverlight 5 is now supporting GPU accelerated video decode, which reduces CPU load for HD video. Using Silverlight 5, even low powered Netbooks will be able to play back 1080p HD content, Microsoft said.

Silverlight 5 also enables variable speed playback of media content on the client with automatic audio pitch correction. This could be useful for training videos where users want to speed up the trainer while still understanding what he's saying.

In addition, the new Silverlight is more power aware, maning that it will prevent screensavers from kicking in while someone is watching movies and also will allowing the computer to sleep when video is not playing.

Support for remote-control is now built-into Silverlight 5, allowing users to control media playback with remote control devices.

Silverlight 5 also delivers significant improvements for application development including:

- Databinding and MVVM: Silverlight 5 delivers significant data-binding improvements that improve developer productivity and provide better Silverlight/WPF feature convergence. Developers can now debug data-binding expressions, set breakpoints on bindings, and more easily determine errors. Implicit DataTemplates now allow templates to be created across an application to support a particular type by default. Ancestor RelativeSource bindings makes it easier for a DataTemplate to bind to a property on a container control. Binding in style setters allows bindings to be used within styles to reference other properties. And a new DataContextChanged event is being introduced to make handling changes easier. Markup extensions are also now support and allow code to be run at XAML parse time for both properties and event handlers, enabling cutting-edge MVVM support.

- WCF and RIA Services: Silverlight 5 now includes WS-Trust support. WCF RIA Services improvements include complex type support, better MVVM support, and improved customization of code generation. Silverlight 5?s networking stack also now supports low-latency network scenarios that enable more responsive application scenarios.

- Text and Printing: Silverlight 5 delivers improved text clarity that enables crisper and cleaner text rendering, multi-column text flow and linked text containers, character and leading support, and full OpenType font support. Silverlight 5 also includes a new Postscript Vector Printing API that provides programmatic control over what you print, and enables printing richer reports and documents. Pivot functionality - which enables developers to build amazing information visualization experiences - will also be provided built-into the Silverlight 5 SDK.

- Graphics: Silverlight 5 includes immediate mode graphics support that enables developers to take full advantage of the GPU (graphics processing unit) and enables accelerated 3-D graphics support. This new support facilitates much richer data visualization scenarios.

- Out of Browser: Silverlight 5 builds on the out-of-browser capabilities we introduced with Silverlight 5. Out of browser applications can now create and manage child windows. Trusted out of browser applications can now also use P/Invoke capabilities to call unmanaged libraries and Win32 APIs. Enhanced group policy support enables enterprises to both lock down and open up security sandbox capabilities of Silverlight 5 applications.

- Testing Tools: Microsoft is adding automated UI testing support for Silverlight applications with Visual Studio 2010. This makes it easy to test Silverlight applications, and automate the functionality of them.

- Performance: Silverlight 5 support faster application startup, and provides 64-bit browser support. Silverlight 5 also integrates with the new Hardware Acceleration capabilities of IE9, and enables hardware acceleration in windowsless mode.

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