At a special Firestarter event (part of which was and Telerik with the new Silverlight client for Facebook called "f!acedeck"), Microsoft unveiled what the next version of Silverlight will include. All I can say is that it will be a huge release - both in terms of easing the developer lives and for enabling even more rich user experiences (in-the-browser and especially out-of-browser). We can divide the new features that are coming in the runtime in two categories - 1) new media features and 2) features that are focused towards business application development.
This is the area where Silverlight 5 get a real push from Microsoft - there are tons of improvements! Here are my favorite new features - in order of importance:
You will easily notice the improved text clarity even on this low quality screenshot. For many users the text rendering in XAML-based frameworks was always a problem. Remember how bad the text rendering was in the first version of WPF? Now with Silverlight 5 this seems to be improved a lot. This new feature also greatly improves one of my favorite Silverlight controls - Rad RichTextBox for Silverlight :)
For the full list of features that is coming into the next version of Silverlight - check this whitepaper prepared by Microsoft.
Crescent project was announced earlier this year, but now on the firestarter event we saw a very detailed and impressive demo of what the next generation of BI tools built with Silvelight can do. It is worth seeing it - check out the keynote video at 1:48:00 for the BI tools demo.
Unfortunately there wasn't any info on what part of these features will be built into the next version of Silverlight for Windows Phone 7. We can only assume that many of them that are applicable for the phone environment will do. Time will tell, but my bet is that next version of the Silverlight for the phone will be much better aligned with the desktop version of the Silverlight.
The first Beta bits will be released in Spring.2011 (my best guess - MIX11 conference which will be held in Las Vegas 10-12.April.2011). The final version of Silverlight 5 is expected to ship at the H2.2011.
So, what do you think on all these features? Do you think they will make you more productive and will enable more scenarios for the applications that you are building? Do you still worry about the future of Silverlight :)?
Valentin Stoychev (@ValioStoychev) for long has been part of Telerik and worked on almost every UI suite that came out of Telerik. Valio now works as a Product Manager and strives to make every customer a successful customer.