Microsoft has finally released Silverlight 5, the latest version of its runtime for internet applications on PCs and mobile devices, adding improvements in performance and multimedia support, and extending trust to applications running inside the browser.
Available to download now, Silverlight 5 adds support for hardware acceleration of the widely used H.264 video codec using the system GPU, while the graphics stack has been re-architected with support for the XNA API on Windows to speed 3D graphics with low-level access to the GPU.
Silverlight 5 also adds more security features, according to Microsoft, extending the Trusted Application model to provide a full level of trust inside the browser.
Among other things, this means that organisations will be able to deploy signed in-browser applications enabled via a group policy registry key and an application certificate.
Trusted applications will also be able to have unrestricted file system access to any directory on a system, while P/Invoke support allows for native code to be run directly from Silverlight.
Other enhancements include tweaks to cut network latency and improved XAML parse times.
For developers, Silverlight 5 now includes PivotViewer in the SDK, plus support for Custom Markup Extensions that enable execution of custom code at XAML parse time.
This version of Silverlight was detailed by Microsoft an entire year ago. At the time, the company was also having to deny rumours that it would eventually ditch Silverlight in favour of HTML5 support. However, question marks still hang over the future of the platform.
Silverlight 5 runs on Windows PCs with XP SP3 and above, and Macs with OS 10.5.7 or better. It also supports Firefox, Chrome and Safari as well as Internet Explorer.
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