Microsoft plans to release the next major iteration of Silverlight next year, with the company stressing that it’s committed to the evolution of the technology moving onward.
According to Scott Guthrie
, corporate vice president of Microsoft's .NET Developer Platform, early adopters will be able to start test driving Silverlight 5 in the first half of 2011, when the Beta development milestone will be released.
Developers already familiar with the technology thinking that Silverlight 5
will follow the same model as its predecessor in terms of the development process and releases, might not be that far off.
The successor of Silverlight 4 will be offered to the public in the second half of 2011, with the software giant revealing that in excess of 600,000 devs worldwide will be able to take premium media experiences and rich applications across desktops, browsers, and devices to the next level.
Microsoft did not offer any specific deadlines for either the Beta or the RTW (release to web) milestones of Silverlight 5.
However, the company did emphasis that Silverlight 5 will bring to the table in excess of 40 new features and it will be focused on delivering advanced capabilities for premium media experiences and business applications.
“Silverlight 5 will enable media experiences to go even further by adding:
• Hardware video decode: Silverlight 5 now supports GPU accelerated video decode, which significantly reduces CPU load for HD video. Using Silverlight 5, even low powered Netbooks will be able to play back 1080p HD content.
• Trickplay: Silverlight 5 now enables variable speed playback of media content on the client with automatic audio pitch correction. This is great for training videos where you want to speed up the trainer while still understanding what he’s saying.
• Improved power awareness will prevent screensavers from kicking in while you’re watching movies while allowing the computer to sleep when video is not playing.
• Remote-control support is now built-into Silverlight 5 - allowing users to control media playback with remote control devices,” Guthrie added.
In addition a consistent amount of work will be poured into making sure that Silverlight 5 continues to be a technology that devs can leverage as the foundation for rich Cloud applications.
In this context, Silverlight 5 can continue to power RIAs, with web developers also having the option to running HTML5 to tap the added power of hardware acceleration in modern browsers such as Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4.0 and the latest releases of Chrome.
Customers must understand however that Microsoft’s focus on HTML5 support does not mean the death of Silverlight, just as how the introduction of Silverlight did not bring with it the death of HTML, SVG, etc. Guthrie
also underlined a range of improvements to Silverlight 5 designed to support RIA development.
“• Databinding and MVVM: Silverlight 5 delivers significant data-binding improvements that improve developer productivity and provide better Silverlight/WPF feature convergence.
• 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.
• 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.
• Out of Browser: Silverlight 5 builds on the out-of-browser capabilities we introduced with Silverlight 4. Out of browser applications can now create and manage child windows.
• Testing Tools: We are 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 supports 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.”