Software Update: Microsoft Silverlight 3.0

Microsoft has released version 3.0 of Silverlight. This program can be seen as a counterpart to Adobe Flash and does its job in the form of a plugin for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari on both Mac OS X and Windows. Silverlight can therefore display interactive applications and videos in the browser. For more information about this release, please refer to this blog by Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president from the Microsoft Developer Division. The following abbreviated list of improvements is mentioned in this announcement:

New Features in Silverlight 3.

Fully supported by Visual Studio and Expression Blend, highlights of the new features and functionality of Silverlight 3 include major media enhancements; out-of-browser support allowing Web applications to work on the desktop; significant graphics improvements including 3-D graphics support, graphics processing unit (GPU) acceleration and H.264 video support; and many features to improve RIA development productivity. Also, to fully work with all the .NET developer tools, Visual Studio 2008, Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Web Developer Express will support a fully editable and interactive designer for Silverlight. New features in Silverlight 3 include these:

  • Support for higher-quality video and audio. With support for native H.264/Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) Audio, live and on-demand Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS7) Smooth Streaming, full HD (1080p) playback, and an extensible decoder pipeline, Silverlight 3 brings rich, full -screen, stutter-free media experiences to the desktop. New and enhanced media features in Silverlight 3 include the following:
    • Live and on demand true HD (1080p) Smooth Streaming. IIS Media Services (formerly IIS Media Pack), an integrated HTTP media delivery platform, features Smooth Streaming, which dynamically detects and seamlessly switches, in real time, the video quality of a media file delivered to Silverlight based on local bandwidth and CPU conditions. This provides support for live and on-demand true HD (1080p) streaming.
    • More format choice. In addition to native support for VC-1/Windows Media Audio (WMA), Silverlight 3 now offers users native support for MPEG-4-based H.264/AAC Audio, enabling content distributors to deliver high-quality content to a wide variety or computers and devices.
    • True full screen HD playback. Leveraging GPU hardware acceleration, Silverlight experiences can now be delivered in true full-screen HD (1080p).
    • Extensible media format support. With the new Raw AV pipeline, Silverlight can easily support a wide variety of third-party codecs. Audio and video can be decoded outside the runtime and rendered in Silverlight, extending format support beyond the native codecs.
    • Industry leading content protection. Silverlight DRM powered by PlayReady content protection enables protected in-browser experiences using AES encryption or Windows Media DRM.
  • Empowering richer experiences. Silverlight 3 contains new 3-D graphics, animation features, hardware-accelerated effects and text improvements that enable designers and developers to create next-generation Web visuals. Additional features include these:
    • Perspective 3-D graphics. Silverlight 3 allows developers and designers to apply content to a 3-D plane. Users can rotate or scale live content in space without writing any additional code. Other effects include creating a queue in 3-D and transitions.
    • Pixel shader effect. These software-based effects include blur and drop shadow. In addition, designers also can write their own effects. Effects can be applied to any graphical content. For example, to make a button appear depressed on rollover, the designer could use a drop shadow effect on the pressed visual state.
    • Bitmap caching. Silverlight 3 dramatically improves the rendering performance of applications by allowing users to cache vector content, text and controls into bitmaps. This feature is useful for background content and for content that needs to scale without making changes to its internal appearance.
    • New bitmap API. With Silverlight 3, developers can now write pixels to a bitmap. Thus, they can build a photo editor to do red-eye correction, perform edits on scanned documents or create specials effects for cached bitmaps from elements on the screen.
    • Themed application support. Developers can now theme applications by applying styles to their Silverlight 3 applications and changing them at runtime. In addition, developers can cascade styles by basing them on each other.
    • Animation effect. Silverlight 3 provides new effects such as spring and bounce. These make animation more natural. Developers also can now develop their own mathematical functions to describe an animation.
    • Enhanced control skinning. Silverlight 3 provides easier skinning capabilities by keeping a common set of controls external from an application. This allows the sharing of styles and control skins between different applications.
    • Improved text rendering and font support. Silverlight 3 allows far more efficient rendering and rapid animation of text. Applications also load faster by enabling the use of local fonts.
  • Improving rich Internet application productivity. New features include these:
    • More than 60 controls with source code. Silverlight 3 is packed with more than 60 high-quality, fully skinnable and customizable out-of-the-box controls such as charting and media, new layout containers such as dock and viewbox, and controls such as autocomplete, treeview and datagrid. The controls come with nine professionally designed themes. Microsoft makes those — and the source code for the many Silverlight controls available on CodePlex — available for developers to reuse under the terms of the OSI-approved Microsoft Public License. Other additions include multiple selection in listbox controls, file save dialog making it easier to write files, and support for multiple page applications with navigation.
    • Deep linking. Silverlight 3 includes support for deep linking, which enables bookmarking a page within a RIA.
    • Search engine optimization (SEO). Silverlight 3 enables users to solve the SEO-related challenges posed by RIAs. By utilizing business objects on the server, together with ASP.NET controls and site maps, users can automatically mirror database-driven RIA content into HTML that is easily indexed by the leading search engines.
    • Enhanced data support. Silverlight 3 delivers these features:
      • Element-to-element bonding. User interface (UI) designers use binding between two UI properties to create compelling UI experiences. Silverlight now enables property binding to Common Language Runtime (CLR) objects and other UI components via Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML): for instance, binding a slider value to the volume control of a media player.
      • DataForms. The Data Form Control provides support for layout of fields, validation, updating and paging through data.
      • New features for data validation. New features automatically catch incorrect input and warn the user with built-in validation controls.
      • Support for business objects. Support is offered on both the client and server with n-tier data support. Developers easily can load, sort, filter and page data with added support for working with data. Support includes a new built-in CollectionView to perform a set of complex operations against server-side data. A new set of .NET RIA services supports these features on the server.
    • Improved performance, through these features:
      • Application library caching, which reduces the size of applications by caching framework on the client in order to improve rendering performance.
      • Enhanced Deep Zoom, which allows users to fluidly navigate through larger image collections by zooming.
      • Binary XML, which allows communication with the server to be compressed, greatly increasing the speed at which data can be exchanged.
      • Local Connection, which allows communication between two Silverlight applications on the client side without incurring a server roundtrip: for instance, a chart in one control can communicate with a datagrid in another.
  • Enhanced accessibility features. Silverlight 3 is the first browser plug-in to provide access to all system colors, allowing partially sighted people to make changes such as high-contrast color schemes for ease of readability by using familiar operating system controls.
  • Out of browser capabilities. Silverlight 3 offers a new set of features for building lightweight, sandboxed companion experiences for the Web that run on the desktop. The out-of-browser support in Silverlight allows Web sites to build even closer, persistent relationships with customers. It enables the application to be placed in a restricted store on the user’s machine and then provides a link directly to it from the user’s desktop or start menu. Silverlight 3 enables this without requiring any additional runtime download or the need to write applications differently. An application now can be found easily on the user’s desktop or start menu and launched with a single click. In addition, it can test if the network is connected, update itself and have access to Isolated Storage. Taken together, these features represent a radical upgrade to the Web experience:
    • Desktop shortcuts and start menu support. Developers can place an application on the desktop and be one click away from the customer.
    • Run outside of the browser. Applications can run without the distracting elements of the browser window.
    • Safer, more secure, sandboxed. An application can be run without security warnings, helping to keep customers safer.
    • Consumer-friendly, nonadministrator installation. Applications are held in a cache and do not require any privileges to run.
    • Built-in auto-update option. Developers can specify that their applications check for new versions on the server and update themselves on launch.
    • Connectivity detection (in browser, out of browser). Applications can detect a loss of connection and then choose to cache users’ work until the connection is restored.

Version number 3.0
Release status Final
Operating systems Windows 2000, Windows XP, macOS, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP x64, Windows Server 2003 x64, Windows Vista, Windows Vista x64, Windows Server 2008
Website Microsoft
License type Freeware