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Microsoft is courting open-source developers with Silverlight 2.0, as it strives for cross-platform uptake of the browser-based media plug in.

Microsoft is delivering funds, architectural and technical guidance, and project management to help Soyatec, a team of former Java developers building an open-source rich-internet application (RIA) development environment for Eclipse - Eclipse4SL. An alpha technology preview was released today here, with plans for a "feature complete" offering in December and final release in Spring 2009.

There was no word on how much money Microsoft is putting into Eclipse4SL, but this is the second Eclipse project to get the company's support - following the Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) in March.

Eclipse4SL will use the Eclipse Integrated development environment (IDE) and Rich Client Platform (RCP), with the project designed to help integrate Silverlight-based applications with Java-based web sites and services.

The news came as Microsoft announced availability tomorrow (Tuesday) of Silverlight 2.0, which supports Mac, Linux , Firefox and Safari in addition to Windows Internet Explorer.

Microsoft is also releasing the Silverlight Control Pack (SCP) under the Microsoft Public License (MS-PL), approved by the Open Source Initative (OSI), and will publish the technical specification for the Silverlight XAML vocabulary on its hugely trafficked MSDN site.

The SCP features a bunch of Silverlight 2.0 controls, while releasing the XAML documentation under Microsoft's Open Specification Promise (OSP) is intended to help third-parties build products that can read and write XAML for Silverlight.

The SCP release was welcomed by at least one open-source project shadowing Silverlight - Moonlight. Project leader Miguel de Icaza said in a statement SCP meant developers could learn how advanced Silverlight controls are authored using Microsoft's own implementation.

Silverlight 2.0 updates the current version of Microsoft's player by adding support for its highly touted "deep zoom" technology that's been wowing audiences. This lets you enlarge minute details in graphics while retaining crystal-clear clarity. Also included is out-of-the-box support for REST, WS*, SOAP, RSS and standard HTTP, and Silverlight Digital Rights Management (DRM) using Microsoft's PlayReady technology.®

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