Silverlight 1.0 Released, Linux Version Coming

Wednesday marked the final 1.0 release of Microsoft's new Silverlight platform for building interactive Web experiences à la Flash, but the big news is that Redmond will extend official support to Novell's Linux port of Silverlight.

Silverlight was first unveiled earlier this year, promising to make it easier for developers to build rich Web applications without delving into the complexities behind AJAX or suffering its limitations. This space is growing increasingly crowded with Adobe's new AIR runtime and Sun's JavaFX.

Like Flash, Silverlight is a managed plug-in for distributing scalable graphics, that's also capable of delivering video. As you might expect, that video will utilize Microsoft's VC-1 codec, which has received much acclaim and which is among the standard codecs in both HD DVD's and Blu-ray's portfolios.

Now that Microsoft has delivered version 1.0 of Silverlight, it is working hard to encourage its adoption by helping customers take advantage of the technology and establishing a partner program for third-parties to offer Silverlight-oriented services.

CBS and Paramount have deployed a Silverlight experience on ETOnline for the Emmy Awards, with plans to do the same for the Golden Globes and Oscars. Home Shopping Network and WWE are also putting Silverlight on their Web sites. Break.com includes a special Silverlight-built search feature for video navigation, which Microsoft says "pushes the envelope for video on the Web."

The final 1.0 build includes bug fixes and incorporates feedback from the Silverlight release candidate, but no new features, Microsoft Group Product Manager Parimal Deshpande told BetaNews. Microsoft itself is deploying Silverlight in a few areas, such as its Podium 2008 Web site for information on elections, and to stream Halo 3 videos.

But Deshpande says Silverlight "is not just about the software, it's about the backend services." In turn, Microsoft will be providing free video hosting to Silverlight customers. The company also announced 35 partners to help with design, content deliver and more for providing Silverlight experiences on the Web.

Touting its support for open source efforts, Microsoft is additionally working with Novell to bring Silverlight to Linux, after receiving numerous customer requests for such capability. Novell was already working on its own port of the software called Moonlight, and Microsoft now expects Novell to deliver a Linux version of Silverlight 6 months from today.

With 1.0 out the door, the focus is on Silverlight 1.1, which was already available in preview form and adds full .NET support. While Silverlight 1.0 applications can be programmed with XAML and JavaScript, the integration of the .NET Framework means developers can utilize ASP.NET, Visual Basic, C#, Python and even Ruby.

Deshpande said no launch date has been set for Silverlight 1.1, but it expects Novell to ship a Linux version of that release 9 months after its debut. A September CTP of Silverlight 1.1 will be available for download soon.

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