Microsoft has released a new version of Silverlight, a technology for creating interactive web and mobile applications. It is in many regards Microsoft's answer to Adobe's Flash technology. There have been rumors for quite some time now that Microsoft would stop Silverlight development as it was never really able to break Flash's dominance on the world wide web.
Silverlight 5 now could be the last version of the technology that gets released. The new version is available for download for all support platforms (all Windows operating systems from Windows XP SP3 and higher and Intel based Mac OS X 10.5.7 or higher) and web browsers (Internet Explorer 6 and higher, Firefox 3.6 and higher, Safari 4 and higher, Google Chrome 12 and higher). Opera is not listed on the compatibility page even though it is compatible with Silverlight. Other browsers may also be compatible even though they are not listed.
Visit the Silverlight getting started page for information about the installed Silverlight installation on your system, the system requirement chart, instructions on how to uninstall Silverlight and download links pointing to the latest version of the application.
Users can download and install the new version of Silverlight. Browsers that are open during installation need to be closed and reopened before they recognize the new plugin version automatically.
So what is new in Silverlight 5? The announcement over at the Silverlight blog highlights the following changes:
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.
In addition, Silverlight 5 extends the ‘Trusted Application’ model to the browser for the first time. These features, when enabled via a group policy registry key and an application certificate, mean users won’t need to leave the browser to 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.
Here is a video highlighting new features and changes in Silverlight 5.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.