Microsoft releases Silverlight 2

Microsoft released Silverlight 2, an update to the company’s browser plug-in that allows users to view and interact with rich media on the Web. In addition to the plug-in release, Microsoft will also release development tools for Mac developers.

Silverlight delivers a Flash-like Web experience to users, allowing them to interact with elements of a Web page, including watching video. Although the technology competes with Flash, Microsoft said Silverlight does have some advantages.

Among those advantages is the language used to code applications in Silverlight. “Developers have a preference on what language they like to use and our competitors don’t offer that choice,” Brian Goldfarb, director of Developer Platforms at Microsoft, told Macworld.

Microsoft points to a number of companies including CBS College Sports, Blockbuster, Hard Rock Cafe, Yahoo! Japan, AOL, and Toyota that have chosen Silverlight to deliver rich media on their Web sites, as proof of its growing support in the industry. Silverlight was also used to deliver Olympic coverage on NBC in 2008.

To help provide tools to developers, Microsoft is providing funding to France-based Soyatec, to integrate advanced Silverlight development capabilities into the Eclipse IDE. Soyatec will release the project on SourceForge, according to Microsoft.

“We are committed to a cross platform and cross browser technology to provide the broadest reach to our customers,” said Goldfarb.

Silverlight 2 is available for free download from Microsoft’s Web site.

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