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Microsoft's Silverlight goes fourth tomorrow

Steps outside box

Microsoft will release Silverlight 4 tomorrow, less than a year after launching version 3 of the company’s wannabe Adobe Flash killer.

The code is in fact set to land 48 hours after Microsoft "launched" Silverlight 4 on Tuesday.

The firm’s .NET developer platform veep Scott Guthrie told The Register last week that the latest version of Silverlight allows users to run apps outside of a sand-boxed environment. Previous iterations of the software only loaded applications from within a sand-boxed setting.

The latest code will come with new APIs that allow customers to re-size and re-position video or other media using Silverlight outside the browser and on the desktop or a mobile gadget, all of which gears the software towards getting developers to write apps for the iPad Windows Phone 7.

Apps written in Silverlight 4 can gain access to a computer’s clipboard. They can also be slotted into the task bar of a Windows 7 screen or added to the dock in Apple’s OS X.

The software allows supported apps to read and write to the file system and chrome and host HTML can be customised too.

Microsoft released a beta version of Silverlight 4 in November 2009. The company said that since then adoption of the software has “continued at a rapid pace”. It claimed that installations of Silverlight were currently “approaching 60 per cent of all internet devices worldwide.”

Meanwhile, Adobe claims its Flash software runs on around 90 per cent of computers globally.

With the release of Silverlight 4 tomorrow, Microsoft will be hoping to close that gap further. Of course, if the company starts putting a little more faith in its own product by actually adding the code to some of its high-profile websites at launch, then perhaps uptake will indeed improve. ®

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