Silverlight Makes its Last Stand (Maybe)

Is version 5 the final version of Microsoft's answer to Flash?

With so much concern that Microsoft is going to axe Silverlight, its graphical library meant as a competitor to Flash, you'd think the company would want to make a definitive statement of support to show its commitment.So what should we read to them releasing it on a Microsoft with minimal fanfare?The company quietly let lose the GA code for Silverlight 5 with an announcement on the Silverlight blog, and that's about it. Silverlight 5 is a free browser plug-in less than 7MB in size.New features in Silverlight 5 include hardware decoding of high-definition H.264 media, 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. With version 5, Microsoft is increasingly tying Silverlight to Windows and tossing out any cross-platform plans. It comes with Platform Invoke support on Windows, enabling trusted applications to call the native API, and allows IE applications to run in full trusted mode on Windows.As Paul Thurrott points out, Silverlight got out of control and grew way beyond what it was supposed to be – an attempted clone of Flash – and is now more of a desktop graphics display for .Net and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). So first and foremost, Microsoft has to decide what it wants to do with Silverlight before it can talk about future versions.Silverlight was a good response to Flash, and Microsoft did a lot to beef it up in its short lifespan. But technologies change and the landscape for Flash (and Silverlight) changed as HTML5 finally came into form. Adobe is dialing back its Flash support, at least on mobile.Now Windows developers are wondering if there will ever be a Silverlight 6.

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