Feeds

Silverlight's star shines in Microsoft's HTML5 show

Happiness is a Kinect-steered armchair

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.