Silverlight 5 launches in beta

Silverlight 5, the latest version of Microsoft's rich internet media platform and framework is now available in beta for interested users to download and test at Silverlight.net.

Most of the features of Silverlight 5 were revealed back in December 2010 at Microsoft's Firestarter developer event, and totaled around 40 improvements or added features.

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Some of the media improvements include support for GPU-based decoding, "TrickPlay" live streaming effects, including slow motion or doubletime playback with audio pitch correction, screen saver override, support for remote control, and DRM switching improvements.

For Silverlight developers, this new version includes XAML parser improvements that speed up startup and runtime performance, support for 64-bit operating systems, multicore JIT compiler optimization, and improved rich text layout that supports multi-column text with linked text containers, support for OpenType, and improved clarity with "Pixel Snapping."

In terms of graphics improvements, Silverlight 5 includes an XNA 3D graphics API and a new 3D drawing surface controller, support for hardware acceleration in windowless mode with Internet Explorer 9, and an improved graphics stack that includes some Windows Phone 7 features, like independent animations.

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