With Adobe AIR out, Microsoft readies Silverlight 2

Rich Internet applications market heats up as Microsoft prepares to release first beta of Silverlight 2, enabling .Net developers to write Web applications for Windows or Mac.

Adobe on Monday released the long-awaited AIR download for running Web applications offline, but Microsoft is readying an update to its Silverlight platform that it hopes will keep Web developers in its camp.

Microsoft will release the first beta of Silverlight 2 "shortly," said Scott Guthrie, a general manager in Microsoft's developer division in charge of Web development, in his blog on Friday. Next week, the company is hosting its Mix '08 Web development and design conference in Las Vegas.

Silverlight 2 is a significant upgrade to the existing edition because it's designed to let programmers write rich Internet applications for Windows and Macintosh browsers using Microsoft's popular .Net tools.

The area of rich Internet applications is fast becoming one of the most hotly contested among infrastructure software providers.

There a handful of emerging platforms that look to bring the features associated with desktop applications, such as offline access to data, to the Web.

In addition to Adobe AIR, there is Google Gears for offline access as well as JavaFX and the Mozilla Foundation's Prism project.

Guthrie said that Silverlight 2 has a stripped-down version of the .Net Framework that lets people use many different languages to write for the Web. These applications can run in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Apple's Safari browser.

"Developers can write Silverlight applications using any .NET language (including VB, C#, JavaScript, IronPython and IronRuby). We will ship Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio tool support that enables great developer/designer work flow and integration when building Silverlight applications," he wrote.

Microsoft hopes to exploit its strengths and developer tools as it battles Adobe and others for developer attention. Developers can use standard Ajax toolkits or Adobe's Flex, which is now open source, to write AIR applications.

Silverlight is now available on Windows or Mac browser but Microsoft said that it intends to have versions for Linux desktops and mobile devices.

 

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