December 02, 2010, 2:52 PM — Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet application platform, which has been the subject of speculation lately about its future, will get a refresh next year when the company releases Silverlight 5.
The upgrade will feature such capabilities as 64-bit support and improvements in areas like high-definition video and digital rights management. Business application usage is a key focus for Silverlight 5. Overall, Silverlight 5 boasts more than 40 new features, according to Microsoft.
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Recently, though, there has been confusion as to how much of a proirity Silverlight is for Microsoft. The company appeared to emphasize HTML5 while relegating Silverlight 5 to being primarily a platform for Windows Phone 7 application development. On the other hand, Microsoft has been stressing its commitment to the platform; Wednesday's announcement continues in that vein.
"The main importance [of the announcement] is that [Silverlight 5 is] on the road map, it's coming, and Microsoft continues to show its ability to iterate with regard to Silverlight based on four major releases in three years," said analyst Ray Valdes of Gartner. He speculated Microsoft was offering Silverlight 5 details a bit early to quash any mixed messages about the company's commitment to the platform.
Silverlight is Microsoft's technology for "premium" application experiences, said Brian Goldfarb, Microsoft director of developer platforms. "It will deliver the best experience as possible," he said. The company will, however, also support HTML5 in its Internet Explorer 9 browser, enabling developers to leverage standards-based application capabilities. Silverlight is being positioned for use in desktop and Web applications, as well as Windows Phone applications.