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Three's the Charm with Silverlight 3

You know what they say about Microsoft software: It always takes them three tries to get it right.

Well, if the third time's really the charm in Redmond, we should all be pretty excited about the early news on the next version of Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet application (RIA) platform and runtime. Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's corporate VP of the .NET Developer Division, offered a sneak peek at what's to come in Silverlight 3 in a blog post on Sunday.

Silverlight 3 will add native support for additional video formats, including MPEG-4/H.264 encoded video. It's the first time a non-Microsoft-developed video format will be supported by Silverlight. Guthrie also said Silverlight 3 will bump up graphics, adding graphics hardware acceleration and enhanced 3-D display capability.

Important for corporate developers, Silverlight 3 will offer enhanced data-binding support, further increasing Silverlight's appeal for line of business application development. Additional controls are expected, as well. On the tool front, Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer Express will support a "fully editable and interactive designer for Silverlight," according to Guthrie. Tool support for data-binding will be included.

Guthrie failed to talk schedules, referring only to "the roadmap in place over the next year." However, the FAQ page on the Microsoft Silverlight Overview Web site indicates "a future version of Silverlight" is due early in 2009. That same page indicates Silverlight will add support for AAC encoded audio -- the same format used by Apple iTunes.

It's clear that Microsoft is continuing to push hard in its effort to advance Silverlight as a platform for serious RIA development. But a lot of questions remain, particularly for business developers who are still clamoring for essentials. Things like printing support, clipboard support and better text-handling facilities are all high on the still-need list among these coders.

What do you urgently need to see in Silverlight 3? Let me know and we'll be sure to bug Scott Guthrie about it next time we get a chance! E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 11/18/2008

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