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Serious business behind Microsoft's Silverlight-3 tease

Game faces on this month

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Microsoft's been playing the tease on Silverlight 3. The company's been slowly upping the ante on expectations, promising "major enhancements", while outsiders who traveled to Redmond and have met the Silverlight team have returned with tales of wonders but few details, citing pain of confidentiality agreements.

This month, though, should bring greater understanding for the rest of us. From what we heard at last week's VSLive, you can expect a Silverlight 3 code dump - conceivably a community technology preview - by Microsoft at this month's Mix 09 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A final bug-free product will follow.

What can you expect in the code dump?

Microsoft itself refused to provide details. A spokesperson told The Reg that: "Microsoft [is] working on a wide range of new features for Silverlight 3 and will be sharing more details soon."

Putting the pieces together, what's emerging is a picture of Silverlight that'll add some desperately needed polish to the first two editions, while also delivering a medium that goes beyond the media player we've seen and will help partners build serious, line-of-business applications.

Microsoft's certainly has its work cut out.

In a relatively short time, Microsoft established a strong beachhead in the world of media players with Silverlight, something that's wowed .NET developers with a platform to build and code multimedia while using Visual Studio and Microsoft programming languages but without needing to either learn Flash or hand off to external Flash experts.

But once the initial flash of video on .NET has worn off and organizations have started digging deeper, it's become clear where Siverlight has been lacking. Developers have asked for some really basic features in Silverlight 3. These include: support for GIFF's and TIFFs, the ability to print from Silverlight, clearer text display, bit-map drawing and rendering, more effects - including buttons and shadows - and a simple back button.

Microsoft has been taking feedback, and given the facts that the competition is Adobe Systems and that Silverlight trails Adobe's Flash in all the above areas by some way, there's every reason to believe it has acted on this feedback and baked it into Silverlight 3.

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