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2/12/2009
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Novell's Moonlight Ready To Eclipse Microsoft's Silverlight

Version 1.0 comes with a graphics pipeline, video and audio frameworks, and JavaScript but does not contain an execution environment.

Novell has released the much-anticipated 1.0 version of Moonlight, the open source equivalent of Microsoft's Silverlight, designed to work with Linux- and Unix-based environments.

Miguel de Icaza, VP of developer platforms for Novell and leader of the Mono project, announced the product had officially reached the 1.0 level in a blog post saying, "We are now feature complete, [having] passed all the Microsoft regression test suites."

De Icaza said that Moonlight 1.0 is now available as a Firefox 2.0 and 3.0 plug-in from the Moonlight Web site, and can be installed with just a single mouse click. He emphasized that both 32- and 64-bit versions of the technology will be available at its launch.

Running down what developers and users can expect to find in the completed version, he wrote that 1.0 comes with a graphics pipeline, video and audio frameworks, and JavaScript but does not contain an execution environment. He pointed out that the execution environment is the JavaScript engine inside the browser.

The ECMA CLI execution system is what actually drives the execution of the code. De Icaza said the execution system will deliver increased performance, anywhere from 20 to 300 times faster than JavaScript implementation.

Novell is already hard at work on Moonlight 2.0, de Icaza said, and early code of the upcoming product can now be downloaded for testing. Novell will offer a preview of version 2.0 at the upcoming MIX conference.

Explaining the recent progress Novell has made on the 2.0 version, de Icaza wrote that just two weeks ago there wasn't much to see onscreen because Moonlight had a lot of interdependencies among various subsystems. But when Novell's Larry Ewing's layout system arrived and "landed in our tree, magically many things started to come together," he wrote.

While Microsoft is not directly supporting Moonlight, de Icaza praised Redmond for its continued assistance in helping with the technical evolution of the product, noting it has open sourced the Microsoft DLR and, more importantly, the Silverlight Control Library and Control Toolkit.

While he describes Silverlight 2 "as incredibly exciting, delicious, and mind blowing," he's looking forward to Silverlight 3, which he expects to be shown off at the MIX conference in Las Vegas in March.

In drawing up his wish list for what he would like to see in Silverlight 3, de Icaza said he hoped the XAP model would be either "optional or nonexistent" for IronRuby or IronPython.

It's been suggested recently that Microsoft should transform its business software to open source. InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on overhauling Microsoft. Download the report here (registration required).

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