Microsoft is planning a major update to its Silverlight Web presentation technology designed to take better advantage of the company's .NET development environment -- a move that should make it easier for programmers to create rich media applications for the Internet.
Silverlight 2.0 "will include a cross-platform, cross-browser version of the .NET Framework," confirmed Scott Guthrie, a Microsoft general manager, in a blog post this week.
With .NET support built into Silverlight, developers will be able to use Visual Studio and other Microsoft tools to create multimedia applications compatible with a number of Web browsers, Guthrie said. A new tools update for Visual Studio 2008 will enable developers to "easily build Silverlight applications using any .NET language," Guthrie said.
Microsoft originally planned to bill the update to Silverlight as version 1.1, but decided that the number of new features go beyond a minor upgrade. "Calling it a point release doesn't really reflect the true nature of it," said Guthrie.
In addition to .NET compatibilty, Silverlight 2.0 will add support for a number of rich networking protocols -- including RSS, REST, POX and WS, according to Guthrie.
Microsoft plans to release a beta version of Silverlight 2.0 in the first of 2008. A ship date for the final product hasn't been set.
Microsoft unveiled the first version of Silverlight in September. It's meant to challenge Adobe's Flash environment, which dominates the market for tools that allow developers to add interactive graphics and videos to Web sites.
Major League Baseball and Fox Movies are among the organizations that have said they'll use Silverlight to jazz up their Web sites.