posted by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Jul 2009 21:20 UTC
IconA day earlier than expected, Microsoft has released version 3 of its Flash alternative Silverlight, including a number of related tools to aid in Silverlight development. It comes with a whole lot of new features.

Microsoft's main Silverlight web page has not yet been updated, but the release is really there, and you can get it here. Silverlight 3 runs on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher, both PowerPC and Intel machines. Officially, the plug-in supports Internet Explorer 6/7/8, Firefox 2/3, and Safari 3/4, but I noticed that my Chrome 3.x installation on Windows 7 works with Silverlight content just fine as well.

There are lots of new features, and Ars Technica summed up the most important ones very nicely:

  • Media: GPU hardware acceleration, new codec support (H.264, AAC, MPEG-4), raw bitstream Audio/Video API, and improved logging for media analytics
  • Graphics: GPU Acceleration and hardware compositing, perspective 3D, bitmap and pixel API, pixel shader effects, and Deep Zoom improvements
  • Application development: Deep linking, navigation and SEO, improved text quality, multi-touch support, 60+ controls available, and library caching support
  • Data: Data-binding improvements, validation error templates, server data push improvements, binary XML networking support, and multi-tier REST data support

Microsoft also released the Silverlight 3 SDK and the Silverlight 3 Tools to get you started on Silverlight development. Whether you want to participate in bringing an alternative to Flash closer to ubiquity is a whole different matter. When it comes to video content, please promote the HTML5 video tag, possibly using a fallback technique like Video For Everybody which does not require JavaScript.

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