On 13th April at the MIX11 conference, Scott Guthrie announced the immediate availability of the Silverlight 5 Beta.
The Beta is a major step towards the final release of Silverlight 5 later this year and includes many of the features we already announced at the Silverlight Firestarter last December. Visual Studio and Expression Blend support for Silverlight 5 is also available for download.
You can download the Beta and Tools here.
Silverlight 5 makes further advances in media, application development and user experiences, adding over 40 new features and 100s of new APIs. You can get the Beta, tools and more at http://www.silverlight.net.
Pete Brown also has 7 new video tutorials covering the Beta on his blog.
Here’s a summary of the features already announced for Silverlight 5:
Premium Media Experiences
Silverlight 5 offers improved media support and rich UI capabilities:
- Hardware Decode and presentation of H.264 improve performance for lower-power devices to render high-definition video using GPU support.
- “TrickPlay” allows video to be played at different speeds and supports fast-forward and rewind. At up to twice the speed, audio pitch correction allows users to watch videos while preserving a normal audio pitch.
- Improved power awareness prevents the screen saver from being shown while watching video and allows the computer to sleep when video is not active.
- Remote-control support allows users to control media playback.
- Digital rights management advancements allow seamless switching between DRM media sources.
- Realtime Sound enables low-latency audio playback where split-second playback timing is required.
Application Development and User Experience
Silverlight 5 enhances developer productivity and end user experience for applications:
- Text improvements make it possible to build high quality, rich text layouts:
- Multicolumn text and linked text container allow text to flow around other elements and between multiple controls independent of placement of the controls.
- Tracking/leading set more precisely how far apart each character is for extra creative control.
- Text clarity is improved with Pixel Snapping.
- OpenType support has been enhanced.
- Support for Postscript vector printing enables users to create reports and documents, including the ability to create a virtual print view different from what is shown on the screen.
- Applications can now work the way users expect with added support for double-click and Combobox type ahead.
- Model View ViewModel (MVVM) and Databinding enhancements allow more work to be done more easily via XAML:
- XAML Debugging support now allows breakpoints to be set on a binding, so you can step through binding failures.
- Implicit DataTemplates allow templates to be created across an application to support a particular type by default.
- Ancestor RelativeSource allows, for example, a DataTemplate to bind to a property on the control that contains it.
- Binding in style setters allows bindings to be used within styles to reference other properties.
- The DataContextChanged event is being introduced.
- Markup extensions allow code to be run at XAML parse time for both properties and event handlers, enabling cutting-edge MVVM support.
- Networking and Windows Communication Foundation-based enhancements:
- Reduced network latency by using a background thread for networking.
- WS-Trust support: message security — encrypted at the Windows Communication Foundation level; Security Assertion Markup Language authentication token.
- Silverlight 5 performance improvements include:
- XAML parser improvements that speed up startup and runtime performance.
- Support for 64-bit operating systems.
- Multicore JIT (Just In Time) Compiler optimization.
- Text layout performance..
- Graphics improvements
- Silverlight 5 now has a built-in XNA 3D graphics API to enables you to build rich, GPU accelerated visualizations and rich user experiences. This includes a new 3D drawing surface control as well as immediate mode GPU access, shaders and effects.
- Hardware acceleration is enabled in windowless mode with Internet Explorer 9.
- The graphics stack has been rearchitected bringing improvements from Windows Phone 7 such as independent animations.
- The Pivot viewer control enables a visual way to rapidly sort through large collections of graphical data, for example a catalog of movies represented by images of dvd covers, using intuitive transitions to show the effects of filters on the result set.
- Silverlight 5 enables trusted applications to run in the browser for the first time. These features, when enabled via a group policy registry key and an application certificate, mean users won’t need to leave the browser to perform complex tasks:
- Host HTML content as a Web browser control within the Silverlight application. HTML pages, such as help content or e-mail, can be integrated within the application.
- Read and write files to the user’s My Documents folder, making it easier to find media files or create local copies of reports.
- Launch Microsoft Office and other desktop programs. Users can open Microsoft Outlook and create an e-mail message, or send a report to Word utilizing the power of Office.
- Access devices and other system capabilities by calling into application COM components. Users can access a USB security card reader or a bar-code scanner.
- Enjoy full keyboard support in full screen, which enables richer kiosk and media viewing applications.
- Call existing unmanaged code directly from within Silverlight with PInvoke.
- Existing trusted application capabilities are further extended.
- Existing unmanaged code can be called directly from within Silverlight with PInvoke.
- Child Window support allows multiple independent windows to be launched from the application.
- File System access is extended beyond MyDocuments to the entire file system.
- Tools improvements include:
- Microsoft Visual Studio profiling support including CPU, memory, thread contention.
- Visual Studio Team Test support.