If there is any doubt that Microsoft has lost steam in developing Silverlight, consider that it released the first version in the third quarter of 2007, the second in 2008, and both Silverlight 3, and Silverlight 4 came out in 2009. Of course this could still be because Microsoft was trying to catch up with Flash, and with v4 it pretty much did. It seems Microsoft is putting itself behind HTML5, which it is touting as one of the means of making applications in their upcoming Windows 8.
Some of the new features that Silverlight 5 brings are:
- Support for hardware H.264 video decoding. This makes it possible to play HD video on low-powered devices that have hardware video decoding support.
- PostScript printing. This improves the quality of printouts.
- 3D support using XNA API. Now developers have low-level access to the native hardware allowing 3D games to be developed with Silverlight 5.
- Support for running in trusted mode so more powerful applications, which can access system features, run native code etc, can be used via a browser.
As always Silverlight is available for Windows and Mac OSX. The Linux version “Moonlight” constantly adds more features of the Windows counterpart, and with the slower — stopped? — pace of development now, it might just catch up.