Feeds

Silverlight's star shines in Microsoft's HTML5 show

Happiness is a Kinect-steered armchair

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Microsoft has announced that the beta of Silverlight 5 is now available.

That announcement, made by Redmond's corporate developer division VP Scott Guthrie during his MIX conference keynote on Wednesday, won the .NET faithful's biggest applause – more than the news of multitasking or access to smartphones' cameras in the next release of Windows Phone.

Silverlight 5's release to manufacturing is scheduled to occur at the same time as the next generation of Windows Phone, code-named Mango. That's not a coincidence, because Silverlight is the development platform for Windows Phone and also used in the runtime. Mango is expected in September.

Last year, Microsoft kicked Silverlight aside and announced that HTML5 would become "the front-end" for PCs and other devices – phones and tablets – connected on the web. Hearing that, those who'd committed to Silverlight were incredulous. And so they should be: HTML5 is not even finished – and it won't be for another four years.

Kinected armchair

Microsoft's Kinect-steered armchair, here with traditional controller deployed

Six months later, Microsoft is fudging the issue of whether devs should use HTML5 or Silverlight because it knows HTML5 only goes so far – but it's now tied to the standard following last year's coming out.

The company's awkwardness was on display during MIX, when one of its evangelists repeated what's now the party line when asked if devs should embrace Microsoft's closed and proprietary plug-in or the web's open-but-less-fully-featured HTML5. Senior technology evangelist Giorgio Sardo told the MIX crowd: "I'm sure you know your customers better than anyone else. I'm not going to judge which works better."

For once, Microsoft reckons that devs know what their customers need better than it does, so it won't dare to preach one technology over the other. Except when it's Silverlight as an alternative to Adobe's Flash Player, which is something it has emphasized during the last three years.

Silverlight had been Microsoft's answer to Flash for the .NET set. But now that Flash is wobbling under the weight of Apple chief executive Steve Jobs' hype, however, Silverlight's fortunes have also changed, and Microsoft continues to build new versions.

What's packed into Silverlight 5? Hundreds of new APIs, apparently. The headliners? Video decoding can now be done on the PC's GPU for improved quality and performance, there's Trickplay to speed up video without getting chipmunk voices, vector printing, XAML debugging, 3D APIs, COM automation in the browser tying Silverlight further into Windows, data binding, debugging, and support for 64-bit chips.

Silverlight 5 didn't get the biggest overall applause of the event, however. That honor went to Microsoft's decision to give every single MIX attendee a free Kinect hands-free controller for Xbox.

Also getting some adoration was the news that the Kinect Windows beta SDK will be released "this spring". There will be tools for skeletal tracking, building advanced audio capabilities for things such as four-element microphone arrays, and APIs to measure the distance between an object and the Kinect camera.

Microsoft released the SDK after it decided to harness the hacker ethos of those who'd broken the system last year. In a nod to that spirit, the SDK will be available under a non-commercial license. This won't last, though: a commercial license is planned for the SDK.

There was applause, too, for a computer-powered armchair steered using a handset free Kinect.

Judging by the boisterous clapping that erupted when a grinning Guthrie switched to talk about Silverlight 5, though, Silverlight clearly continues to hold its own among the Microsoft faithful not only against the newer stuff but also against some Apple-style HTML5 hype from Microsoft. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.