Microsoft Corp. is raising its Silverlight rich-media delivery software to a new level — in name, at least. Instead of calling the next release of the cross-platform browser plug-in Version 1.1, as previously planned, Microsoft will bestow a Version 2.0 name on the upgrade, according to a blog postingÂ today by Scott Guthrie, a general manager in the company’s developer division.
Microsoft had already released an alpha version of Silverlight 1.1. But Guthrie wrote, “After stepping back and looking at all the new features in it, we’ve realized that calling it a point release doesn’t really reflect the true nature of it.”
Guthrie said in the posting that Microsoft plans to release a beta version of Silverlight 2.0 in next year’s first quarter. The beta code will include a go-live license, enabling programmers to immediately create and deploy applications based on Silverlight 2.0.
Since launchingÂ Silverlight last spring, Microsoft has focused much of its marketing efforts on potential uses of the software for streaming contentÂ on consumer-facing Web sites.
But Silverlight 2.0 could hold far more relevance for corporate users, because it will include a subset of the .Net Framework, Microsoft’s underlying software development platform. That will enable Microsoft’s vast community of third-party developers to use familiar tools like Visual Studio to create so-called rich Internet applications for delivery via Silverlight within multiple browsers, according to Guthrie.
In his blog posting, Guthrie discussed some of the new features planned for Version 2.0, including support for higher-level components of Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation user interface framework. He said the upgrade will also add new layout management and data manipulation controls for developers, support for a variety of communication protocols and a base class library of .Net functionality.
In addition, Guthrie said that Microsoft plans to release a free update of Visual Studio 2008 with support for Silverlight 2.0.
A Microsoft spokesman said the company wouldn’t comment on the Silverlight plans beyond Guthrie’s blog posting.