MIX08 Kicks Off with First IE 8 and Silverlight 2 Betas

Microsoft ushered in two highly anticipated betas: the first public downloads of Internet Explorer 8 and Silverlight 2.

Microsoft today ushered in two highly anticipated betas for developers at its MIX08 conference in Las Vegas: the first public downloads of Internet Explorer 8 and Silverlight 2.

The company also released a slew of technology previews, including the Visual Studio 2008 tooling for Silverlight 2, Expression Studio 2 beta (which supports Silverlight 2) and an ASP.NET MVC Preview 2.

An invitation-only test beta for SQL Server Data Services was also made available to MIX08 attendees.

During a three-hour keynote offered to more than 2,500 international developer and design attendees, Microsoft officials gave their view of the Web and how it will affect Microsoft products and vision going forward. Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie described the Web as a hub for devices, social experiences and applications.

"In scenarios ranging from productivity to media and entertainment, all applications -- ours and yours -- will incorporate the group-forming aspect of the Web. Linking, sharing, ranking, tagging on the Web will become as familiar to all of us as file, edit and view on the PC," Ozzie said.

The IE 8 preview given by Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's general manager of IE 8, focused primarily on new interoperability features for developers, including support for CSS 2.1, HTML 5, performance enhancements and integrated dev tools that support debugging across browsers.

Previewed features of IE 8 included an Activities menu that allows users to highlight text on a page (for example, an address or the word "camera") and then choose a related action (like Live Maps or eBay). Another new feature is Web Slices, which lets users subscribe to parts of a Web page for updates.

The Silverlight 2 demos included Hard Rock International's "Memorabilia" project, which allows online viewing of its rock 'n' roll collection as part of its Web site. Memorabilia, expected to go live this week, was developed by Vertigo and showcases the "deep zoom" technology released today along with Silverlight beta 1.

The demos also included a preview of the Olympics site, which mixed streaming video with data, including expert commentary, event alerts and a jaw-dropping rewind-and-play feature planned for live video.

Silverlight 2 is based on a subset of .NET and WPF, and includes 20 controls shipping as source code with an open source license. Microsoft also released a testing framework, covered under an open source license, for UI and non-UI testing with "200 seeded tests." SharePoint Extensions that embed Silverlight controls as Web parts were also made available this week.

Silverlight's Mobile Push
Developers can now use the same programming model for mobile apps. Microsoft announced a partnership with Nokia and demoed several Silverlight mobile apps.

"We tried to do it in Flash. It didn't really work," said Tamir Melamed, vice president of engineering at WeatherBug, who showcased a Silverlight 2 app that lets users access live weather reports and related information. According to Melamed, it took WeatherBug three weeks to build the live weather information app in Silverlight. "Silverlight is an amazing technology," he said.

All of the demos were based on the existing Silverlight 2 technology, according to Scott Guthrie, vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division. The technology is also gaining momentum among end users, Guthrie said; the Silverlight download rate after six months is now more than 1.5 million per day.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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