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Mono project takes Silverlight step closer to Adobe AIR

Moonlight desklets let developers write "standalone Silverlight" applications with Mono. It's a limited equivalent of Adobe AIR, says Mono chief.

Miguel de Icaza, who heads up the open-source Mono project, has provided an update on a project to create Silverlight applications that run out of the browser, moving a small step toward what Adobe Systems offers with AIR.

Mono is an open-source implementation of Microsoft's .Net framework. It lets developers use Microsoft tools and languages, like C#, to write applications that run on Windows, Linux, or MacOS.

Part of the Mono project is Moonlight, an implementation of Silverlight that runs on Linux. Silverlight is a browser plug-in for rich Internet applications.

De Icaza said that some of the Moonlight work aims to let people write Silverlight applications that run standalone, outside the browser.

That's not something Microsoft offers right now. Many people expect the company to do that to compete with Adobe's AIR, which lets people use Web tools to write desktop applications.

The "Moonlight desklets" from Mono run standalone outside the browser, too. But de Icaza made it clear that there's quite a bit of work to make it easier to write them for all Mono-supported operating systems.

"We as a team can certainly create a Linux-only platform for these controls, and live happily with Mopen, but we would miss an opportunity of having something cross platform like AIR is.

"Ideally, Microsoft would follow our direction and implement and distribute the same Mopen functionality (the mechanism for creating stand-alone Moonlight desklets) that we have for Windows and Mac. This would ensure maximum adoption of standalone Silverlight-applications," de Icaza wrote in his blog.

He said once Microsoft releases Silverlight 2.0 later this year, the task of writing standalone Silverlight applications will get easier. He also said that it would be a feature in Moonlight 2.0 while they are still working on the 1.0 version.