Silverlight 5 Now Available for Download
Microsoft has come through with Silverlight 5, which was released as a final product today.
The release is the latest -- and perhaps the last -- major update to the company's .NET technology for building rich interactive applications that can run outside a browser or inside a browser via plug-ins. Silverlight 5 contains a few technical support advancements, and Microsoft outlined its product lifecycle. However, nothing about Silverlight's future prospects was mentioned in Microsoft's brief announcement.
Silverlight 5 supports the PivotViewer and RichTextblock controls, improves text clarity (via OpenType and text wrap) and offers a Postscript Vector printing API. It also adds support for WS-Trust for browsers, 3-D graphics, 64-bit apps and hardware decoding of H.264 video. Here's an overview of these features and more in Silverlight 5.
The upcoming Internet Explorer 10 browser for the Windows 8 desktop will be compatible with Silverlight, according to Microsoft, but only for the classic "Desktop" user interface. The IE 10 browser designed for the "Metro-style" user interface of Windows 8 will not have browser plug-in support, and that implies that there will be no support for Silverlight or Adobe Flash add-ons. Windows Phone 7.5 (formerly code-named "Mango") is based on Silverlight 4 and remains a distinct platform. Silverlight 5 is supported in IE on Vista and Windows 7, Firefox, Chrome and Safari, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft's assertions that Silverlight is a strategic technology for client apps inside and outside the browser, apps on devices (Windows Phone and Windows Embedded) and media solutions, have not convinced a lot of developers that the platform has a viable future, even on Windows. Lately much of the discussion has moved to XAML and how easily developers can transition their Silverlight skillsets to building Windows 8 Metro-style apps for the Windows Runtime (WinRT) using XAML.
Windows 8 and WinRT were unveiled at Microsoft's Build developer conference in mid-September. The Silverlight 5 release candidate, which appeared at the beginning of September, was largely overshadowed by those Build announcements.
Alongside the release of Silverlight 5, Microsoft outlined its Support Lifecycle policy for the product. The company will provide support through Oct. 12, 2021 for Silverlight 5 using the browsers listed here, or for the lifecycle of those browsers, whichever period is shorter. The company has also pledged to provide 12 months notice before discontinuing support for Silverlight 5.
Get the Silverlight 5 SDK, Silverlight 5 Tools for Visual Studio 2010 SP1 and related tooling here.
Kathleen Richards is the editor of RedDevNews.com and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.