Silverlight 4 shows up

Microsoft has released a beta of Silverlight 4 at the Professional Developers Conference in LA.

Silverlight 4 shows up

The update to Microsoft’s Flash rival was showcased in detail to PDC delegates, who got a glimpse of its simplified handling of rich media applications on both a developer and user level.

As expected, Silverlight 4 offers dramatically improved off-browser features including webcam and microphone access, multi-cast streaming and offline DRM support.

Printing from within Silverlight is now supported, as is clipboard access, drag-and-drop and client-side HTML hosting. Google Chrome support has also been added.

New APIs allow resizing and positioning of desktop content away from the browser, which is clearly a response to Adobe’s AIR platform.

Speaking to PDC delegates, .Net corporate vice-president Scott Guthrie said Silverlight 4 contained 70% of the features asked for in a poll of 12,000 developers earlier this year.

Version 4 builds on the application sandbox of Silverlight 3 by letting ‘trusted applications’ now run outside the sandbox, as long as both the developer and end user give their express consent.

As expected, Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth streaming was introduced, which lets developers code video only once for a variety of clients. Guthrie attempted to show off an iPhone-optimised setting to illustrate its potential, but had problems setting it up.

Despite all the new features, Microsoft claims the software has been streamlined with a speedier start-up than Silverlight 3 and processing speeds that are up to twice as fast.

Silverlight 4 will be released in full in the first half of 2010 – the beta can be downloaded here.

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