Microsoft has updated its Silverlight platform to version 5.0 – bringing key new features that should boost its popularity.
Silverlight 5.0 brings the eagerly awaited hardware decode of H.264 media – which is a key new addition for the rich application framework –alongside other new efatures.
"New features in Silverlight 5 include Hardware Decode of H.264 media, which provides a significant performance improvement with decoding of unprotected content using the GPU; Postscript Vector Printing to improve output quality and file size; and an improved graphics stack with 3D support that uses the XNA API on the Windows platform to gain low-level access to the GPU for drawing vertex shaders and low-level 3D primitives," explained the Silverlight team in a blog.
Also changing is the 'trusted application model' which is extended to the browser for the first time – allowing people to stay within the browser but perform complex tasks (such as "multiple window support, full trust support in browser including COM and file system access, in browser HTML hosting within Silverlight, and P/Invoke support for existing native code to be run directly from Silverlight" explains Microsoft).
Although Silverlight has impressed with its feature set and potential – it has never made the crossover into a high-profile Microsoft product, despite the growth of apps and the growing importance and familiarity of the browser to the public when doing more complex tasks.
With the tech world's attention firmly fixed on HTML 5, will Silverlight 5.0 give it a fighting chance of some much-needed attention? Only time will tell.