Microsoft Unveils Next Edition Of Silverlight

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has provided more information with regards to Silverlight 5, the next edition of its multimedia software. The company hopes Silverlight 5's barrage of features can dampen speculation that the system will take a back seat to other forms of web media, including that of Adobe Flash and HTML (hyper text markup language) version 5.

Silverlight is an application framework, a system that designers can use to create graphics, animations and multimedia content. With the new edition of Silverlight, Microsoft is putting a lot of emphasis on its use in a business context -- particularly in media content, such as video streaming or on-demand content.

Silverlight's New Features

Some of Silverlight's new features include:

  • Use of dedicated graphics processors to decode video data. This would significantly lessen the load on the computer's main processor (CPU), which should mean even lower-spec machines can cope with high-definition video while online.
  • Introducing a feature known as "Trickplay" that lets the user speed up the video, but have the audio pitch be automatically tweaked so that speech is intelligible at the higher speed. Microsoft suggests this could be particularly useful for people who want to watch training videos but don't have much time to spare.
  • Improving the way Silverlight communicates with Windows' power management tools, meaning that screensavers shouldn't start up while a video is playing, but still allowing the computer to go into sleep mode once a video finishes (assuming it isn't doing anything else).
  • Adding support for remote controls, making the system more suitable for devices such as set-top boxes or media PCs. (Source:

HTML 5 Forces Changes

Microsoft was certainly under pressure to make the new edition of Silverlight more distinctive. There had been talk that the system would get much less attention with the introduction of HTML 5, the first major revision to the basic coding language of websites in more than a decade. HTML 5 includes much better support for building video and audio decoders, which are now directly accessible inside webpages. (Source:

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