What's In A Name? Silverlight 1.1 Becomes 2.0

Microsoft renumbers the next release of its Silverlight media platform to reflect the importance of the updates it will contain.

It turns out that the next version of Microsoft's Silverlight cross-browser, cross-platform multimedia plug-in technology is more extensive – and thus more important—than company officials initially thought.

That's why the company decided that the next release, due out next year, will be numbered version 2.0 instead of 1.1.

"We've been referring to this release as 'Silverlight 1.1,' [but] after stepping back and looking at all the new features in it … we've realized that calling it a point release doesn't really reflect the true nature of it," Scott Guthrie, general manager in Microsoft's Developer Division, said in a blog post Thursday.

"Consequently, we have decided to change the name and refer to it as 'Silverlight 2.0' going forward," he added.

Microsoft first demonstrated Silverlight at the National Association of Broadcasters' annual conclave in April. The company released a beta version of Silverlight 1.0 and an alpha version of 1.1 last spring.

Version 1.0 shipped last summer. However, 1.0 only supports writing applications using JavaScript, which limits its use by serious developers, analysts say.

At the top of the list of new features coming in version 1.1 – now renumbered 2.0 – is the ability for developers to write Silverlight applications using Visual Studio and the .NET Framework. That means they will be able to use core development languages like C# and Visual Basic.net to write for Silverlight.

"This release [2.0] will include a cross-platform, cross-browser version of the .NET Framework, and will enable a rich .NET development platform in the browser," Guthrie's post said. Microsoft plans to release Silverlight 2.0 in beta test form in the first quarter of next year, with final release targeted for sometime in 2008.

The public beta release will include, for example, support for higher level features of the Windows Presentation Framework's (WPF) user interface framework that are part of Windows Vista's underpinnings.

"These include: the extensible control framework model, layout manager support, two-way data-binding support, and control template and skinning support ... a compatible subset of the features in … .NET Framework 3.5," Guthrie said.

All of this is good news for developers, says one analyst.

"To me, it's what turns Silverlight from a streaming video plug-in into a development platform that you can actually write applications for," Greg DiMichillie, lead analyst for application platforms at research firm Directions on Microsoft, told InternetNews.com.

Microsoft still has a long way to go before it stands a chance of displacing its main competitor – Adobe's Flash technology – however, given Flash's sheer ubiquity, he added.

Additionally, getting Silverlight 2.0 out the door has been more complex than first thought and is, subsequently, taking more time than expected, DiMichillie said.

"Originally, we thought 1.0 and 2.0 were going to be much closer together [so] the fact that 2.0 is delayed is disappointing but not too surprising," he added.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com.

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