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Microsoft Releases Silverlight 2, Already Reaching One in Four Consumers Worldwide

Microsoft announces new rich Internet applications development and streaming media features; company outlines plans for supporting Windows, Mac and Linux tools for developing Silverlight applications.

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of Silverlight 2, one of the industry's most comprehensive and powerful solutions for the creation and delivery of applications and media experiences through a Web browser. Silverlight 2 delivers a wide range of new features and tools that enable designers and developers to better collaborate while creating more accessible, more discoverable and more secure user experiences.

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Microsoft also announced further support of open source communities by funding advanced Silverlight development capabilities with the Eclipse Foundation's integrated development environment (IDE) and by providing new controls to developers with the Silverlight Control Pack (SCP) under the Microsoft Permissive License.

"We launched Silverlight just over a year ago, and already one in four consumers worldwide has access to a computer with Silverlight already installed," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division at Microsoft. "Silverlight represents a radical improvement in the way developers and designers build applications on the Web. This release will further accelerate our efforts to make Silverlight, Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Studio the preeminent solutions for the creation and delivery of media and rich Internet application experiences."

Silverlight adoption continues to grow rapidly, with penetration in some countries approaching 50 percent and a growing ecosystem that includes more than 150 partners and tens of thousands of applications. During the 17 days of the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, NBCOlympics.com, powered by Silverlight, had more than 50 million unique visitors, resulting in 1.3 billion page views, 70 million video streams and 600 million minutes of video watched, increasing the average time on the site (from 3 minutes to 27 minutes) and Silverlight market penetration in the U.S. by more than 30 percent. Broadcasters in France (France Televisions SA), the Netherlands (NOS), Russia (Sportbox.ru) and Italy (RAI) also chose Silverlight to deliver Olympics coverage online. In addition, leading companies such as CBS College Sports, Blockbuster Inc., Hard Rock Cafe International Inc., Yahoo! Japan, AOL LLC, Toyota Motor Corp., HSN Inc. and Tencent Inc. are building their next-generation experiences using Silverlight.

"CBS College Sports Network streams more than 20,000 hours of live content annually for our 150-plus college and university official athletic partners, so we demand that our video player environment be both consumer friendly and robust," said Tom Buffolano, general manager and vice president, Digital Programming and Subscription, CBS Interactive-Sports. "Silverlight was the perfect choice to help develop and power our new, exclusive online collegiate sports experience, as it features the best price and performance of any streaming media solution on the market today. Silverlight also gives us the most flexibility in expanding the product in the future as we develop embeddable players and mobile platforms and explore new advertising integration opportunities."

Continued Commitment to Openness and Interoperability

Microsoft announced plans to support additional tools for developing Silverlight applications by providing funding to Soyatec, a France-based IT solutions provider and Eclipse Foundation member, to lead a project to integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into the Eclipse IDE. Soyatec plans to release the project under the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0 on SourceForge and submit it to the Eclipse Foundation as an open Eclipse project.

Microsoft also will release the Silverlight Control Pack and publish on MSDN the technical specification for the Silverlight Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) vocabulary. The SCP, which will augment the powerful built-in control set in Silverlight, will be released under the Microsoft Permissive License, an Open Source Initiative-approved license, and includes controls such as DockPanel, ViewBox, TreeView, Accordion and AutoComplete. The Silverlight XAML vocabulary specification, released under the Open Specification Promise (OSP), will better enable third-party ISVs to create products that can read and write XAML for Silverlight.

"The Silverlight Control Pack under the Microsoft Permissive License really addresses the needs of developers by enabling them to learn how advanced controls are authored directly from the high-quality Microsoft implementation," said Miguel de Icaza, vice president, Engineering, Novell. "By using the OSP for the Silverlight vocabulary, they further solidify their commitment to interoperability. I am impressed with the progress Microsoft continues to make, and we are extremely satisfied with the support for Moonlight and the open source community."

Beyond funding development in the free Eclipse IDE, Microsoft currently delivers state-of-the-art tools for Silverlight with Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio 2. In addition, support is now extended to Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition, which is a free download.

"We wanted to build a cutting-edge, rich Internet application that enables our customers to search our vast database of content and metadata so they can access movie reviews, watch high-quality movie trailers, and either rent or buy movies from our new MovieLink application," said Keith Morrow, chief information officer, Blockbuster. "Because Silverlight 2 now includes several new rich controls such as data grids and advanced skinning capabilities, as well as support for the .NET Framework, allowing us to access our existing Web services, we were able to easily maintain the high standards of the Blockbuster brand and bring the application to market in record time."

Delivering Features for Next-Generation Web Experiences

Highlights of new Silverlight 2 features include the following:

-- .NET Framework support with a rich base class library. This is a compatible subset of the full .NET Framework.

-- Powerful built-in controls. These include DataGrid, ListBox, Slider, ScrollViewer, Calendar controls and more.

-- Advanced skinning and templating support. This makes it easy to customize the look and feel of an application.

-- Deep zoom. This enables unparalleled interactivity and navigation of ultrahigh resolution imagery.

-- Comprehensive networking support. Out-of-the-box support allows calling REST, WS*/SOAP, POX, RSS and standard HTTP services, enabling users to create applications that easily integrate with existing back-end systems.

-- Expanded .NET Framework language support. Unlike other runtimes, Silverlight 2 supports a variety of programming languages, including Visual Basic, C#, JavaScript, IronPython and IronRuby, making it easier for developers already familiar with one of these languages to repurpose their existing skill sets.

-- Advanced content protection. This now includes Silverlight DRM, powered by PlayReady, offering robust content protection for connected Silverlight experiences.

-- Improved server scalability and expanded advertiser support. This includes new streaming and progressive download capabilities, superior search engine optimization techniques, and next-generation in-stream advertising support.

-- Vibrant partner ecosystem. Visual Studio Industry Partners such as ComponentOne LLC, Infragistics Inc. and Telerik Inc. are providing products that further enhance developer capabilities when creating Silverlight applications using Visual Studio.

-- Cross-platform and cross-browser support. This includes support for Mac, Windows and Linux in Firefox, Safari and Windows Internet Explorer.

More information and details about Silverlight 2 are available by reading the Silverlight 2 fact sheet at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/silverlight/default.mspx.

Get Silverlight 2

Silverlight 2 will be available for download on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight. Customers already using a previous version of Silverlight will be automatically upgraded to Silverlight 2.

A technology preview of the Soyatec project is available today at http://www.eclipse4sl.org, with a complete version available in second half of 2009.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

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