updated 10:30 pm EDT, Thu July 9, 2009
Microsoft Silverlight 3
Microsoft tonight launched the public version of Silverlight 3, its animation and video plugin for the web. The rival to Flash is the company's first to use hardware graphics acceleration both for 3D and for offloading the work of decoding video from the main processor. Regardless of graphics power, the update is also the first to promise a near-seamless HD video experience: a "smooth streaming" technique that automatically lowers the bitrate to start playback immediately and quickly brings it back up to provide the maximum quality the connection allows.
Subtler but noticeable improvements include support for more universal media standards like AAC, H.264 and MPEG-4, hardware pixel shader effects on sufficently new graphics hardware and multi-touch support for Windows 7. Developers can also create browser-independent apps that can keep running even when the browser is closed.
Installing version 3 demands either a Mac running OS X 10.4.8 or newer with a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo or faster as well as 128MB of RAM. Windows users can run it using a 500MHz processor of any type, 128MB of RAM and either a 32- or 64-bit version of Windows XP, Vista or 7. It works in most common browsers including Internet Explorer 6 and up on Windows as well as Firefox 2, Safari 3 or later versions on either OS platform.