Microsoft (news, site) adds new powers to Silverlight, as it unveils a new version that helps play content happily on iPads and Windows Phone 7, bringing high class visuals and interactivity to your apps and data.

QuickSilver Release

Microsoft continues to move fast as it keeps pace with the world of mobile hardware, web standards and other drivers. One of the cool demos at Firestarter, a streamed online event from Seattle, showed how live video streaming could be set up using IIS 4 to send footage to any device including Apple's iPad.

Cool? Yes. Mind boggling? No. But it does show how seriously Microsoft is taking the ability to play nicely in a varied ecosystem. From major changes of trusted in-browser apps, to little tweaks aimed at pleasing designers, there is a lot here to digest.

For Cooler Coding

For coders, there are many new sought after features -- databinding debugging, MVVM (model-view-viewmodel) data sources, plus additions like FindAncestor and RelativeSource to find your way through complex code.

Layout transitions done in few lines of code seemed to get a big nod of approval from people following the event on Twitter. 3D visuals have been given a bump, one example showed a doctor's app that displays individual hairs and pores of a virtual patient using dot normal mapping. The app can also remove the skin, showing organs, which could then be faded out to show just the skeleton.


Not content with a couple flashy content demos, there were plenty of shows of practical data related applications including PowerPivot, offering interactive, visual views of spreadsheet style data. Another showed off number crunching availability in a time scheduling app. Each looked very Web 2.0, was highly visual, intuitive and created without reference to arcane datasets or archives.

There are lots of other features to be discussed in this day-long event, if you're quick, you can catch more demos and ideas. Developers using Visual Studio and Expression Blend may suddenly find themselves with a great role to play in future development of Silverlight apps. Silverlight 5.0 beta should be available in the Spring with a full release in the Summer of 2011.