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Microsoft's Silverlight 3 due in July?

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The next version of Microsoft's browser-based media player - and challenger to Adobe Systems' Flash - could be coming in just two months.

Microsoft on Thursday announced what it calls a launch event for Silverlight 3, and it's set for July 10. The company has also promised version three of its Expression Studio content and development suite.

Until now, Microsoft has promised this highly anticipated next version of Silverlight would be available sometime this year. Expression Studio has proved less exciting among content creators in general and seems to be wooing just direct Microsoft partners.

A Microsoft spokesperson reiterated the company's commitment to the 2009 time frame and told The Reg the event would "highlight the great work our customers and partners have been doing with Silverlight and Expression Studio, as well as the unique features in the latest releases."

If Microsoft does make the final Silverlight 3 available on July 10 that would mean the player's arrived a mere nine months after the current release, Silverlight 2, and four months after the current Silverlight 3 beta was released at Microsoft's Mix 09 conference. There was just over a year between the first and second editions of Silverlight.

Silverlight 3 promises a major step change in the evolution of the player.

Features include a new navigation and page framework to integrate Silverlight with a browser's forward and back button; support for hardware acceleration and H.264, MP4, and ACC; the ability for Silverlight to run outside the browser on Windows and Mac; and the power to work offline, detect local networks, and download content to cache.

The news comes ahead of a week where you'll hear Sun Microsystems tirelessly beat the drum for its own architecture for building media and rich-interfaces using Java. Session after session at Sun's JavaOne conference next week in San Francisco, California will attempt to educate developers about JavaFX for PC, mobile, and TV.

Unveiled at JavaOne in 2007 and launched more than two years later, JavaFX currently has no discernible uptake, meaning its future looks uncertain as Oracle prepares to buy Sun. ®

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