Silverlight Meets Wall Street

Silverlight and online banking work together at Web Services/SOA on Wall Street Conference

Microsoft wants Silverlight to be a rich Internet application (RIA) environment you can bank on -- literally.

The software giant demonstrated for the first time an application based on its Silverlight RIA platform that portends how banks might bring their online banking sites into the Web 2.0 era.

Joseph Cleaver, platform strategy advisor for Microsoft's financial services business, gave the Silverlight demo at last month's Web Services/SOA on Wall Street Conference in New York.

The demonstrations used the graphical model of Tafiti, Microsoft's experimental search interface. Tafiti, described as "search visualization," renders results through visual icons (newspaper, phonebook, feeds, Web and images) that rotate on what looks like a dish or half sphere. The demos showed how consumers and bank employees alike might access information within the context of banking transactions.

Cleaver described it as a 360-degree view, which allows individuals to customize how data is presented using visual cues to represent certain operations -- for example, using video pop-ups.

One of the two banking demos also included some code based on Silverlight 2.0, which is now available to a small number of testers and is expected to drop around next month's MIX08 conference in Las Vegas.

Silverlight 2.0 is the new name for what was until recently known as Silverlight 1.1. It adds support for a subset of .NET, including scaled-down versions of the Common Language Runtime, Base Class Libraries, Language Integrated Query and Windows Presentation Foundation.

The banking and 401(k) demos were aimed at showing banks and investment firms how they can target Generation Y customers, who Cleaver says are coming to expect richer user interfaces with streaming media.

"It's really more about having retail brokerages and banks think about what the experience could be as they look to revamp their online channels, especially around the user experience," Cleaver says in an interview.

At the Web Services conference, Cleaver said Silverlight should be easy for .NET developers to embrace, regardless of their experience using RIA technology.

"That's the beauty of .NET," he said. "It's familiar tools, familiar language -- [and] the ramp-up time is really light."

Cleaver also touted Silverlight's support for multiple languages, browsers and platforms.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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