Microsoft's Silverlight 4 - more than Flash envy

MeeGo to phones, set-tops, and beyond


2010 is proving to be a big year for Silverlight, Microsoft's cross-platform browser plug-in.

"Four releases in two and a half years," said vice president Scott Guthrie at the launch of Silverlight 4.0 this month, and as Microsoft reveals more pieces of its strategy, the rationale for this energetic development is also emerging. It's more than just Flash-envy.

Silverlight is the main development platform for Windows Phone 7 - the other being the games-focused XNA - and Microsoft has plans for Silverlight on other devices, expanding its existing web role.

In this context, it was interesting to hear Intel describe its ambitions for the Linux-based MeeGo, a joint project with Nokia, which extend to SmartPhones and televisions as well as netbooks.

At the recent Developer Forum in Beijing, Intel said it is bringing Silverlight to MeeGo in October, apparently using Microsoft's code rather than the open-source Moonlight project.

The Silverlight platform has several components. The runtime is a browser plug-in that runs on Windows with Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome, or on Intel Mac with Firefox or Safari. The download is around 6MB, and it includes video and audio capabilities along with a cut-down version of the .NET Framework, enabling applications to be written in C#, Visual Basic, or other .NET languages.

Silverlight 4 in Visual Studio

Silverlight visual designer in Visual Studio 2010

Graphics and layout in Silverlight are defined using XAML, an XML language also used by Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Silverlight 3.0 introduced the ability to run as a desktop application, though one that is sandboxed from local resources.

Silverlight is supported on the server by media streaming services and by middleware called WCF RIA Services, which simplifies authentication and data access. RIA Services integrate with ASP.NET on the server and with the Silverlight client framework.

Ever since the first release in 2007, Microsoft has been frantically plugging the most obvious holes in Silverlight's capabilities. New features in version 4.0 include printing, bi-directional text, rich text box for formatted text entry, deep linking so that an external URI can point to an internal page within Silverlight, data input validation, right-click support, clipboard access, drag and drop, webcam and microphone support, and digital rights management for offline content (just what you wanted).

[Whew! -Ed]

Out of browser applications are much improved, with a WebBrowser control and a notification API. There is a new option for trusted applications, subject to user consent, which gives file system access and, on Windows only, the ability to call native code via COM interop. Trusted applications can also make cross-domain network calls, which means for example a Twitter client is now possible.

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022