Yesterday, on November 18, 2009, at the Professional Developer’s Conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft released a new version of Silverlight Beta 4. Truly, I am astonished by the amount of features they delivered this time. We are coming closer and closer to the moment when web applications will work like regular desktop versions without portability issues and others. I have listed ten of the most interesting new features.
- Webcam and microphone access to allow sharing of video and audio for instance for chat or customer service applications.
- Audio and video local recording capabilities capture RAW video without requiring server interaction, enabling a wide range of end-user interaction and communication scenarios for example video conferencing.
- Bring data in to your application with features such as copy and paste or drag and drop.
- Support conventional desktop interaction models through new features such as right-click context menu.
- Multicast networking, enabling Enterprises to lower the cost of streaming broadcast events such as company meetings and training, interoperating seamlessly with existing Windows Media Server streaming infrastructure.
- Read and write files to the user’s MyDocuments, MyMusic, MyPictures and MyVideos folder (or equivalent for non-windows platforms) for example storage of media files and taking local copies of reports.
- Run other desktop programs such as Office, for example requesting Outlook to send an email, send a report to Word or data to Excel.
- COM automation enables access to devices and other system capabilities by calling into application components; for instance to access a USB security card reader.
- Comprehensive printing support enabling hardcopy reports and documents as well as a virtual print view, independent of screen content.
- The .NET Common Runtime (CLR) now enables the same compiled code to be run on the desktop and Silverlight without change.
Of course there are piles of other features, but I am very positively surprised how close we are now to building a fully functional web application that will have no limitations that are usually blocking us and forcing to use the “old and good” deskop applications. Imagine how these features can change our gaming experience, if I say that the new version is 200% faster than Silverlight 3 and that already we have hardware support for 3D graphics included. What do you think? Are we are at the point of breakthrough changes?