Scott Guthrie, a VP at Microsoft, recently blogged about a new release of Silverlight that will soon be ready for beta trial. Silverlight 1 introduced a new browser-based video player supporting a JavaScript/AJAX programming model. Silverlight 2 focuses on enabling the development of Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). An important point about RIAs is that they aren’t just for the Internet. Silverlight 2 will enable “rich desktop Windows applications” for the enterprise, so it is of great interest to all of us involved with the Citrix Multimedia Virtualization Initiative. Although not offering the full 3D graphics capabilities of WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), Silverlight is a strong subset of WPF that supports “2.5D” graphics effects including transparency. The UI framework provides support for animation, layout management, controls, data binding, and more.

Visual Studio 2008 will support Silverlight 2, as it does WPF, making it very easy for ISVs and other application developers -- even non-professionals -- to create rich client applications in their choice of programming language (C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, etc.).

The beta release is just 4.3MB and installs in less than 10 seconds. Unlike WPF, Silverlight 2 does not require the .NET framework to be installed on the client. Silverlight applications run within a browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari) but can be migrated to standalone desktop applications using WPF and the .NET framework.

No doubt Silverlight 2 will be a big topic at Microsoft’s upcoming sold-out MIX08 conference in Las Vegas!

Derek Thorslund
Product Strategist, Multimedia Virtualization