Silverlight 3 Released
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by Scott Guthrie
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Silverlight 3 Features

Silverlight 3 is a major update and delivers a ton of new features and capabilities.  Some of the new Silverlight 3 runtime capabilities include:

HD Media

Silverlight 3 now supports hardware graphics acceleration – enabling both video and graphics compositing to be offloaded onto a GPU.  This can dramatically lower CPU usage on a computer, and enables HD video to be played on older low end machines.  You can now deliver and play 1080p HD video experiences over the web.

Silverlight 3 includes new media codec support for H.264 video, AAC audio and MPEG-4 content.  This enables you to easily play and stream media encoded using these standards.  Silverlight 3 also includes raw bitstream audio/video APIs that enable you to create additional codecs (in any .NET language) that support playing any other media format.  Silverlight 3 also adds a variety of additional media features that enable better logging (for media analytics and ad monetization scenarios), provide the ability to disable screen-savers when playing long-form video content, and enable content protection.

IIS Media Services is a free server product that complements Silverlight and provides the ability to efficiently stream media over HTTP.  It enables both on-demand and live HD video to be delivered using “smooth streaming” - which is an adaptive streaming algorithm that can deliver video at bitrates optimized for a client’s network conditions and CPU capabilities.  Check out this demo to see a good example of smooth streaming in action with Silverlight.

The HD support within Silverlight, combined with the Smooth Streaming support of IIS Media Services, enables a dramatically better video experiences on the web.  This past week alone, we’ve had multiple customers broadcast live HD events using Silverlight and smooth streaming (up to 3MBits) including: Wimbledon, the Tour de France, AVP Volleyball, and the Michael Jackson Memorial Service.

Immersive Graphics

The new GPU acceleration capabilities of Silverlight 3 enable even richer and more immersive graphic experiences.

Silverlight 3 also adds new perspective 3D support that can be used with graphic elements, videos and controls.  Silverlight 3 also includes new bitmap and pixel APIs, as well as the ability to create and apply custom pixel shader effects (e.g. blur, dropshadow, swirl, etc) to any image, video element, or control.  Easing support can also now be used to enable more textured motion within animations.

Out of Browser Support

Silverlight 3 enables applications to run outside the browser and taken offline.  Users can safely install web applications on their computers, and create persistent shortcuts to them on the desktop, start menu and taskbar (this is supported on both Windows and the Mac).

New network detection support within Silverlight enables developers to monitor the network status of a machine and switch between offline and online modes within their applications.  Silverlight 3 also includes an automatic update mechanism for applications – so that clients who have installed applications are automatically updated when new application versions are deployed on the originating webserver.

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