updated 03:05 pm EST, Thu December 2, 2010
Silverlight 5 due in beta second half of 2011
At the Silverlight Firestarter event on Thursday, Microsoft announced the new features users can expect in Silverlight 5, the cross-platform runtime and development platform. These will be made despite a shift to focus on HTML5, with executives at the software giant saying a public beta will arrive in the second quarter of 2011, and a final release-to-Web arriving before the end of 2011.
Chief among the more than 40 new features in Silverlight 5 is hardware video decoding that allows H.264 HD video demonstrations in lower-power devices thanks to GPU support. Support for remote controls is also due, along with DRM advancements that will bring easier switching between sources. A TrickPlay feature will let users play back video at different speeds and supports both fast-forward and rewind commands.
Also at the event, Microsoft together with partner Telerik is showing a final version of the Silverlight for Facebook app. Telerik will take over development and maintenance of the free app, which will now be called Telerik Silverbook. The web component is currently powered by Silverlight 4.
Enterprise app developers will find newfound support for Postscript vector printing, a fluid user interface for smoother animations and reduced network latency thanks to background threading.
Also due is support for 64-bit operating systems, a GPU-accelerated 3D API and an immediate mode graphics API that grants direct rendering to the GPU. Improvements were also made to the XAML parser to speed up startup and runtime performance. Hardware acceleration will also be possible in a windowless mode with Internet Explorer 9.
The Silverlight site has more information on the new platform, which should still reach both the Mac and Windows PCs. [via ZDNet]