With the third version of Silverlight, now available for download in Beta, Microsoft has taken its technology, positioned as a rival to Adobe Flash, beyond the boundaries of the browser. In this context, Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president, .NET Developer Platform, revealed during his keynote address at MIX09 the “out of browser” experiences for Silverlight 3. Essentially, developers will be able to build Silverlight 3 applications that will run on top of Windows or Mac OS X without requiring a browser. Microsoft Client Platform Evangelist Tim Sneath indicated that Silverlight 3 client apps would run sandboxed, just as they did in the browser.
“Silverlight 3 now includes built-in support which enables you to take a Silverlight application and run it outside the browser on both Windows and on the Mac. This enables a bunch of great scenarios, ranging from out of the browser media experiences, companion applications that go along with your Web site, as well as sort of lightweight data snacking applications if you want to aggregate lots of data from various places,” Guthrie added.
The intimate connection between Windows Presentation Foundation, .NET Framework and Silverlight make possible scenarios in which applications built with Silverlight 3 can run directly on top of the operating system. Essentially, Microsoft constructed Silverlight by leveraging a subset of the full WPF, which in its turn is only a part of the .NET Framework.
“It has built-in auto-update support, so once you build an application, once a customer actually deploys it, if you need to change the application, you can simply copy an update onto your Web server, and Silverlight 3 will automatically detect the next time that application is run that an update has occurred, automatically bring it down without the user having to update, or install, or run any type of patch, will be able to use your application the next time they launch it,” Guthrie added.
Silverlight 3 also brings to the table offline aware support. This enables applications to correctly detect the network status, which essentially permits developers to build Silverlight 3 network-aware apps. In addition, the technology features local caching support, allowing programs to grab data from the Internet, download it, cache it and make it available at any time.
Silverlight 3 Beta 3 is available for download here.