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Microsoft to get early Silverlight, Web tools out the door

Silverlight 1.0, Microsoft's Web browser plug-in for media applications, is expected this fall with Visual Studio 2008 later this year.

Microsoft is readying releases of its Web development tools as it looks to replace Adobe's Flash platform with Microsoft's own Web browser plug-in Silverlight.

Later this week, Microsoft is set to release a string of a tools, including Silverlight 1.0 Release Candidate and a second beta of Visual Studio 2008.

It said that Silverlight 1.0 is scheduled for final release in the fall, which should automatically be updated to users who download the Release Candidate. Visual Studio 2008 and the .Net Framework 3.5 are set for release by the end of the year.

Silverlight is a download for displaying media and interactive content in Web pages. It competes with Flash and other plug-ins that add interactivity to Web sites.

To spur creation of Silverlight applications, Microsoft also released a community technology preview of the Silverlight Add-In for Visual Studio 2008. The plug-in is expected to be ready soon after the final release of Visual Studio 2008.

The 1.0 version of Silverlight is optimized "mainly for media scenarios," said Scott Guthrie, general manager in Microsoft's Server and Tools division in charge of its Web development tools. Microsoft is trying to sign on Internet video publishers to use Silverlight instead of the Flash platform, which is currently the de facto standard for Web video.

Silverlight videos embedded within a Web page can be resized and have higher fidelity than Flash videos, according to Microsoft.

The follow-on Silverlight 1.1 version will include support for the Dynamic Languages Runtime, which will allow programmers to use dynamic, or scripting, languages to write Windows or Silverlight Web applications using .Net-based tools.

The suite of tools are important components to Microsoft's overall software development strategy. Visual Studio 2008 and the latest .Net Framework include several enhancements specifically for Web development, Guthrie said.

Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft's Expression Web design tool share a common front-end design tool, which should make it easier for developers and designers to collaborate, he said.

The tool is also designed to make it easier to work with database and XML date, he added.

Programmers can use these tools to build applications and get support from Microsoft under its GoLive License.