Microsoft is extending its Silverlight web browser plug-in in the battle with Adobe's Flash player. Released yesterday, Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 public beta is the first chance for users to try out the plug-in. Now it's up to developers to release applications built for Silverlight, Microsoft said.

If you download a plug-in from Microsoft you can run Silverlight applications with Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Apple's Safari.

.Net support

The next version, Silverlight 1.1, will support Microsoft's .Net framework. This will allow applications with a number of different programming languages to be created. Silverlight 1.0 only uses JavaScript and Extensible Application Markup Language for development.

Microsoft's announcement was made at the MIX07 conference in Las Vegas yesterday. A new component that will support streaming media was also announced by Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie in his keynote speech.

Silverlight Streaming is a Microsoft-hosted service that allows you to embed streaming media into a webpage. Storage for video feeds and photos is free "with reasonable limitations," Ozzie said.

Analysts

Analysts doubt that Silverlight will be able to sufficiently challenge Flash's dominance in the market in the near future.

"It is going to be a very slow proposition to develop in the marketplace," said Van Baker, vice president of research at analyst firm Gartner. "You can put incentives on the table, but can they put enough on the table to cause a significant defection? Probably not."

The full release of Silverlight 1.0 is scheduled for this summer. Early alpha versions of Silverlight 1.1 are available now.

Adobe was not immediately available for comment.