Microsoft announces Silverlight 5 beta will launch first half 2011

In a keynote presentation at the Silverlight Firestarter event this morning, Corporate Vice President in Microsoft's developer division, Scott Guthrie officially announced Silverlight 5, and outlined its new features and 1H 2011 beta availability.

Silverlight 5 adds more than 40 new features to the Web application framework that focus on improving its streaming media functionality for users and on improving application development for engineers.

Some of the new streaming additions include: GPU-accelerated video decoding, variable speed playback which allows for user-defined, pitch-corrected slow motion, improved power saver awareness to prevent screensavers from turning on during playback, and native remote control support.

For developers using the Silverlight RIA dev environment, Guthrie presents a list of enhancements in Silverlight 5, including: improved databinding functionality (databinding expressions can now be debugged or set as breakpoints,) support for Markup extensions to allow code to be run at XAML parse time. WS-Trust support, improved text clarity and new pivot functionality, and 64-bit browser support, to name just a few.

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