Feeds

Microsoft's Silverlight 4 - Flash developers need not apply

The dark side of .NET improvements

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Review Microsoft's Silverlight 4 shows remarkable progress since version 3, released in July. The pace of development shows Microsoft is serious about making this work - but is it delivering something developers can use?

The answer is a guarded "yes". Version 4 is a huge improvement, resolving many of the most frustrating aspects of its predecessor, though there are still reasons for caution.

There are three broad groups of customers Microsoft hopes to capture with Silverlight. The first is internet broadcasters, where the company has had limited success so far. In the USA, Major League Baseball reverted to Adobe Systems' Flash after a brief dalliance with Silverlight, and in the UK ITV also dropped Silverlight after using it for its ITV player.

Flash is hard to shift, with greater penetration in web browsers, much better device support, and a strong industry alliance in the form of its Open Screen Project. Silverlight 4 adds DRM for H.264 content, along with offline DRM, but success here is more about establishing partnerships and getting the runtime deployed than it is about adding features.

The second group is web designers. This also is challenging for Microsoft. Many designers work on the Mac, whereas the Silverlight design tool, Expression Blend, works only on Windows. Further, Flash is already present on over 95 per cent of web browsers, where Silverlight can only muster around 45 per cent according to Riastats.com - though that figure took a lurch upward last month, partly thanks to an increased sample size.

Visual Studio and Blend integration

A right-click brings a Silverlight form from Visual Studio into design-tool Expression Blend

The third group is developers, especially those already familiar with Microsoft .NET and Visual Studio. This is where Silverlight 4 shines, and also where the company has given the product most attention. Silverlight 4 is part of the new .NET product wave, which includes .NET Framework 4 as well as Visual Studio 2010.

Visual-Studio thumbs up

This is the first Visual Studio with full Silverlight support, including a two-way visual designer and a variety of Silverlight project types. Microsoft has done a great job here, and working with Silverlight is smooth, especially when compared to the pain of earlier iterations. There are some important new controls, including a Rich Text control and an HTML control when working out of the browser, as well as limited clipboard support and access to cameras and microphones.

Setting up for the Silverlight beta involves three main components. First, you need a sacrificial machine or virtual machine. Install Visual Studio 2010, currently at Beta 2, and then the Silverlight 4 tools, which includes the runtime and SDK as well as the Visual Studio integration. Finally, you can add Expression Blend Preview for .NET 4.0. Visual Studio has a forms-oriented visual designer, whereas Expression is a rich design tool. I had to fiddle with the registry to get this working, but once set up you can open a Silverlight page in Expression directly from a right-click in Visual Studio, work on it there, and save it back.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.