MIX08 Kicks Off with First IE 8 and Silverlight 2 Betas
- By Kathleen Richards
Microsoft Wednesday ushered in two highly anticipated betas for developers at its
MIX08 conference in Las Vegas: the first public downloads of Internet
Explorer 8 and Silverlight
The company also released a slew of technology previews, including the Visual
Studio 2008 tooling for Silverlight 2, Expression
Studio 2 beta (which supports Silverlight 2) and an ASP.NET MVC Preview
An invitation-only test beta for SQL Server Data Services was also made available
to MIX08 attendees.
During a three-hour keynote offered to more than 2,500 international developer
and design attendees, Microsoft officials gave their view of the Web and how
it will affect Microsoft products and vision going forward. Microsoft's Chief
Software Architect Ray Ozzie described the Web as a hub for devices, social
experiences and applications.
"In scenarios ranging from productivity to media and entertainment, all
applications -- ours and yours -- will incorporate the group-forming aspect
of the Web: linking, sharing, ranking, tagging on the Web will become as familiar
to all of us as file, edit and view on the PC," Ozzie said.
The IE 8 preview offered up by Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's general manager
of IE 8, focused primarily on new interoperability features for developers,
including support for CSS 2.1, HTML 5, performance enhancements and integrated
dev tools that support debugging across browsers.
Previewed features of IE 8 included an Activities menu that allows users to
highlight text on a page (for example, an address or the word "camera")
and then choose a related action (like Live Maps or eBay). Another new feature
is Web Slices, which lets users subscribe to parts of a Web page for updates.
The Silverlight 2 demos included Hard Rock International's "Memorabilia"
project, which allows online viewing of its rock 'n' roll collection as part
of its Web site. Memorabilia, expected to go live this week, was developed by
Vertigo and showcases the "deep zoom" technology released today along
with Silverlight beta 1.
The demos also included a preview of the NBC.com Olympics site, which mixed
streaming video with data, including expert commentary, event alerts and a jaw-dropping
rewind-and-play feature planned for live video.
Silverlight 2 is based on a subset of .NET and WPF, and includes 20 controls
shipping as source code with an open source license. Microsoft also released a testing
framework, covered under an open source license, for UI and non-UI testing with
"200 seeded tests." SharePoint Extensions that embed Silverlight controls
as Web parts were also made available this week.
Silverlight's Mobile Push
Developers can now use the same programming model for mobile apps. Microsoft
announced a partnership with Nokia and demoed several Silverlight mobile apps.
"We tried to do it in Flash, it didn't really work," said Tamir Melamed,
vice president of engineering at WeatherBug, who showcased a Silverlight 2 app
that lets users access live weather reports and related information. According
to Melamed, it took WeatherBug three weeks to build the live weather information
app in Silverlight. "Silverlight is an amazing technology," he said.
All of the demos were based on the existing Silverlight 2 technology, according
to Scott Guthrie, vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division. The technology
is also gaining momentum among end users, Guthrie said; the Silverlight download
rate after six months is now more than 1.5 million per day.