Silverlight 3 – Microsoft's Lancelot
This month's MIX conference revealed a lot of "hot" stuff about the new MS products, and Silverlight 3, released yesterday, was one of the topics discussed. Fully supported by Visual Studio and Expression Blend, Silverlight 3 is hyped with: significant graphics improvements including 3D graphics support, out of browser support that allows Web applications to work on the desktop, important media enhancements, GPU acceleration and many other features that improve RIA development productivity. The future Visual Studio 2010 will also support a fully editable and interactive designer for Silverlight.
As such, a lot of the questions asked at the MIX concerned the future use of WPF, in parallel with Silverlight. As you might know, WPF also got a significant upgrade, WPF 4, as part of the new .NET 4.0 framework. These upgrades brought the two technologies more closer than they ever were, and now fans on both sides are trying to count the pros and cons of each one.
But there isn't actually a showdown between the two of them. It might be a relevant opinion that MS upgraded Silverlight, especially with the cross-browser functionality, in order to keep and attract other browser's fans, while maintaining its light-weight frame for installment and running. Anyway, the new features are extremely exciting, and our dev team is just dying to try them out in new projects, or to update previous ones.
We're especially hooked on the live and on-demand true HD (720p+) smooth streaming, HD playback in full-screen and the perspective 3D graphics. An important part of the improvements on this version are these features, plus the overall richer experiences that Silverlight can enable. Backed by the search engine optimization, deep linking support (users can now bookmark a page within a RIA), enhanced data support and performance, Silverlight 3 is definitely a knight in shiny armor, ready to conquer (attract) a lot of public views.
What definitely convinced me that MS was seriously intending to make a prime developing product out of Silverlight were the out of browser capabilities, meaning that users could place their favorite SL apps directly onto their PCs or Macs, with links on the desktop and start menu, without the need to download any additional runtime components. And these apps would work regardless of the PC's Internet connection status. This ability to run with or without an Internet connection makes SL 3 a radical improvement to the traditional web experience.