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Silverlight 3 and 4 to 'open up new areas' - Microsoft

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The next two releases of Silverlight will take Microsoft's media player in completely new directions, the technical executive in charge has promised.

The corporate vice president of Microsoft's developer division Scott Guthrie told the company's Channel 9 "whole new areas you can't do today will start to open up" with Silverlight 3 and 4.

Microsoft will reveal more details on Silverlight 3 at its forthcoming Mix 09 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company has promised deep dives at the March show into controls, rendering, and latest media features, and promised to discuss what's new in its third installment.

Silverlight 3 will see a number of features designed to improve graphics.

These include H.264 - a video-compression codec built for most applications and different bitrates - 3D graphics, acceleration of the underlying hardware, and rich-data binding in Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer Express.

Guthrie said you'll be able to: "Do things you can't do with AJAX and Flash in the browser."

There will also be work on bread-and-butter issues such as forms over data applications.

The company hasn't said when it plans to release Silverlight 3, but it is expected to be this year. The line up of Mix sessions and recent history strongly suggest a beta at the show. Microsoft announced Silverlight and then released the Silverlight 2 beta at previous Mix shows.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on a release, repeating that Microsoft hasn't yet announced a release date for either Silverlight 3 or its beta.

Guthrie, meanwhile, claimed there'd been "hundreds of millions" of Silverlight downloads - presumably since its release two years back, although it's not clear whether this includes pre-release and beta code, or if Guthrie was counting only finished versions of the player. Silverlight 1.0 was released in September 2007 but pre-release code had been available since April.

Separately, Microsoft's rich-internet application (RIA) and interface rival Adobe Systems said its AIR had passed 100 million downloads - the company's target for 2008 - 10 months after release.

Adobe said Flash Player 10, used in AIR, had been installed on more than 55 per cent of computers and that it expects downloads will surpass 80 per cent by the second quarter of 2009. The company claimed this would "far outpace" the installation rate of past versions of the Flash. Version 10 was released by Adobe in October 2008. ®

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