There has been some nice announcements here at TechEd Orlando regarding Silverlight 2, detailed here in this Mega Q&A on Silverlight 2 beta 2:
When are the Silverlight 2 Beta 2 bits going to be available?
Silverlight 2 Beta 2 was announced during Bill Gates's keynote at TechEd 2008 and bits will be available for customers to download later this week.
What is new in Silverlight 2 Beta 2?
As is typical with a beta, we’ve made a number of incremental improvements based on customer feedback. This includes:
· New and improved controls
· Networking and data handling improvements
· Improvements in error handling, reporting and development experience
· Updates to Deep Zoom and animation
· Updates to ensure WPF compatibility
· General improvements in performance
A full list of improvements and updates will be included in the release notes with the Silverlight 2 Beta 2 download.
What are the features of Silverlight 2?
Silverlight 2 builds on the foundation of Silverlight 1 but significantly extends the original development framework at every point. The most important innovation that Microsoft brought to bear with Silverlight 2 is its support for managed code. Because Silverlight 2 incorporates the core CLR classes, the runtime provides much richer networking stack support, including REST, RSS, JSON and POX and full support for LINQ including LINQ to SQL and LINQ to XML. In addition to supporting C#, VB.NET and other managed code languages, Silverlight 2 includes support for Dynamic languages including Ruby and Python as well as a 2 way HTML/AJAX bridge for full integration of Silverlight with AJAX-enabled applications.
With regard to user interface controls, Silverlight 2 adds over two dozen controls (such as button, check box, date controls, gridview, layout) that are designed to be used either right out of the box, or after being tweaked with styles. With Silverlight 2, the user interface controls are completely customizable, as the appearance of any control can be fully determined by templates and control behavior can be modified by hooking events or by creating custom controls. Similar to the layout controls in WPF, the new Silverlight 2 layout controls significantly enhances the ability to optimize the overall design of the UI. Finally, Silverlight 2 controls can now provide one way or two way databinding to any number of data sources including LINQ, in a highly scalable architecture that abstracts out the binding object.
Finally, Silverlight 2 provides secure client-side persistence through Isolated Storage. This dramatically reduces bandwidth requirements for any given RIA, as data can be cached locally on the client.
Should developers/organizations wait until Silverlight 2 RTW to build applications?
No. Silverlight 2 Beta 2 is a very stable and high quality build that comes with a commercial go-live license. Microsoft encourages developers to deploy their mission-critical applications on this release. For example, NBC will deploy a large, mission-critical rich media site, NBCOlympics.com, using Silverlight 2 Beta 2.
Will my applications built on Silverlight 2 beta 1 be compatible with Silverlight 2 Beta 2?
Silverlight 2 Beta 2 introduces some changes that will break certain applications targeting the previous version of the beta, Silverlight 2 beta 1 (which is one of the main reasons that Microsoft recommended not using Silverlight 2 beta 1 for commercial deployment purposes). For a run down on the changes and work-arounds please visit: www.silverlight.net.
Will my applications built using Silverlight 2 Beta 2 be compatible with the RTW release?
The next release introduces changes that will require developers to update their code. These changes are required to add more features, increase performance and stability.
Will my applications built using Silverlight 1 be compatible with Silverlight 2 Beta 2?
Is Silverlight 2 Beta 2 compatible with Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 betas?
When will Silverlight 2 RTW?
Fall of 2008.
What are the key features of Silverlight 3?
We haven’t made any announcements regarding Silverlight 3. Right now we are concentrating on getting Silverlight 2 out the door.
When can we expect a beta of Moonlight? Wasn’t it supposed to be released 6 months after Silverlight 1 RTW?
The first code for Moonlight was released on May 13, and you can find more detail on Miguel de Icaza’s blog. http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2008/May-13-1.html
When will Microsoft release Silverlight for devices?
At MIX08 Microsoft announced its intentions to deliver Silverlight on mobile devices with a focus on Windows Mobile and Nokia based (S60, S40, N8xx Internet Tablet) devices as a first priority. To date, Microsoft has created an invitation only private alpha program for Silverlight on Windows Mobile devices. Stay tuned to PDC in October 2008 for the next round of details and a broader public release.
What is the number of Silverlight downloads to date? What is the latest the company is saying on adoption?
In addition to existing customers around the world such as Entertainment Tonight, NBA, MSN, Hard Rock, Home Shopping Network, BMW, BBC, Yahoo! Japan, and Baidu, Microsoft is looking forward to a strong line up of new content that will be based on Silverlight 2. Notable examples include the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games and the Democratic National Convention.
- Beijing Olympic Games will deliver to online users exclusive access to an unprecedented offering of over 3000 hours of live and on-demand video content. The combination of MSN’s audience reach and Microsoft’s Silverlight technology will allow NBC to deliver Olympics content to a broad U.S internet audience - all through an immersive and interactive video experience that will redefine how sports fans consume content online.
- Democratic National Convention will leverage Silverlight 2 to deliver all four days of live convention coverage via live footage, data feeds, archived content, and speaker information overlays.
- Over the last few months, the Silverlight Partner Initiative has grown significantly, comprising more than 85 members from content delivery networks, design agencies, ISVs and solution providers. This will further fuel the adoption of Silverlight, and provide monetization opportunities for partners.
What’s momentum been like for Silverlight?
We continue to see a significant number of downloads of Silverlight on a daily basis. As more and more customers launch their own Silverlight applications, we expect that number to continue to grow.
Who is using Silverlight?
Here are a few customer highlights:
- NBC/Olympics: NBC Universal has chosen to partner with Microsoft to make “NBCOlympics.com on MSN” the official online home of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. NBCOlympics.com on MSN will provide online users with exclusive access to an unprecedented offering of over 3000 hours of live and on-demand video content. The combination of MSN’s audience reach and Microsoft’s Silverlight technology will allow NBC to deliver Olympics content to a broad U.S internet audience - all through an immersive and interactive video experience that will redefine how sports fans consume content online.
- Hard Rock: Hard Rock is using Silverlight to enhance its showcase of celebrity paraphernalia on its Web site. But, to give you an idea of what this entails, say a site visitor wants to check out Eddie Vedder’s guitar – the visitor could spin it in 3-D, perform a deep zoom and check on the scratches from when Eddie has banged it up on stage, etc. Some cool stuff to give fans closer access to celeb paraphernalia.
- Weatherbug: Weatherbug is able to utilize Silverlight on Mobile Platforms as well as in a traditional PC/Mac environment to deliver a consistent user experience by re-using XAML assets across all platforms, in a cost effective manner by being able to use the same client side logic and back end services with only the need to customize some device specific keyboard and interaction handling.
Did Microsoft fund the deal with NBC to deliver the Olympics online via Silverlight?
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Will the NBC Olympics effort will run on NBC servers, MS servers or 3rd party servers?
The hosting is provided by a broad combination (MS/NBC/3rd parties)
How is Silverlight different than Flash? Flex? Adobe AIR?
Some of the scenarios for Flash and Silverlight usage are similar, such as rich media/video within websites, or interactive rich content for e-commerce, e-learning, or advertising. However, Silverlight uses a dramatically different approach for creating and delivering experiences in a way that aligns more with our customers’ development and deployment needs.
Platform: Microsoft’s client/web platform offerings span Windows to the Web, and include emerging surfaces such as the media/living room (Xbox360, Media Center PC), as well as mobile devices. Each of these platforms has shared capabilities and development tooling, but greatly different performance and integration characteristics. By comparison, Flash, Flex, and AIR are all variants of the Flash animation plug-in that Adobe acquired from Macromedia. They share a presentation and programming framework that was first developed for “skip-intro” and other pre-broadband experiences in the browser, and have incrementally evolved to add better programming, but lack the integration, performance, and tooling necessary to build many of the apps and content experiences that will be increasingly of interest to many businesses.
Tools: Silverlight, WPF, and ASP.NET AJAX share development and design tooling support with Microsoft Expression and Visual Studio product lines. With these tools, designers and developers can collaborate more effectively than ever before to design and implement superior UX. Adobe’s tooling and application frameworks are very focused on animation and cosmetic design, traditionally for the creative professional and not the application development audience.
Flex: For enterprise line of business (LOB) applications, Microsoft offers a breadth of solutions for building business applications that directly integrate with Microsoft Office, as integral parts of the Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and SharePoint Server experience. Flex is a new technology built on the Flash animation plug-in which allows developers to build richer Web-based UI and connections to server data. However, Flex lacks deeper integration into the environment where most of these LOB applications are used.
Adobe AIR: Web standards based development using AJAX is a proven technology for developing compelling and easy to deploy applications to the desktop with zero-touch requirements for additional client side infrastructure. Microsoft has shown continued innovation and commitment to this space with our Internet Explorer browser, our Live services, and our ASP.NET AJAX scripting capabilities for server code that delivers compliant Web standards to Mac and Windows clients.
Where experiences that more fully integrate with the desktop are of interest, .NET Framework can be used to build full-trust, fully-integrated applications for the Windows OS. Windows Vista and the .NET Framework 3.0 are shipping now, and hundreds of ISVs are delivering applications that use these proven technologies for both LOB and consumer facing content and applications.
Adobe just released Flash 10 beta which includes support for features like 3-D and custom filters. When will Microsoft offer similar support with Silverlight?
Silverlight 2 supports managed code, includes the core of the CLR and adds over two dozen user interface controls (such as button, check box, date controls, gridview, layout, etc.) that are designed to be used right out of the box, or to be tweaked with styles. If you need full control over the look and feel, the appearance of any control can be fully determined by templates and control behavior can be modified by hooking events, or, ultimately by creating custom controls. Overall design is enhanced by new layout controls familiar from WPF and, Silverlight controls can provide one way or two way databinding to any number of data sources including LINQ, in a highly scalable architecture that abstracts out the binding object.
Because Silverlight 2 incorporates the core CLR classes, it provides much richer networking stack support, including REST, RSS, JSON and POX and full support for LINQ including LINQ to SQL and LINQ to XML. In addition to supporting C#, VB.NET and other managed code languages, Silverlight 2 includes support for Dynamic languages including Ruby and Python and a 2 way HTML/AJAX bridge for full integration of Silverlight with AJAX-enabled applications and Silverlight 2 provides secure client-side persistence through Isolated Storage.
What is the Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008?
This package is an add-on to Visual Studio 2008 to provide tooling for Microsoft Silverlight 2 Beta 2. It provides a Silverlight project system for developing Silverlight applications using C# or Visual Basic. The project system includes:
- Visual Basic and C# Project templates
- Intellisense and code generators for XAML
- Debugging of Silverlight applications
- Web reference support
- Integration with Expression Blend 2.5 2008 June Preview
Do I need to download Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008 to build Silverlight 2 applications?
Microsoft recommends downloading and using Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio to take advantage of features such as a visual design surface, intellisense, automatic build/packaging of XAP which makes it easier and more productive when building applications. It is a free add-on to VS. However, it is possible to build Silverlight applications using any text editor with the SDK.
Where can I download Silverlight Tools Beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008?
The easiest way to download the tools is to visit http://www.silverlight.net/