Microsoft presents upgrades for ‘connected web’

6 Mar 2008

Microsoft has announced beta releases of Internet Explorer 8, Silverlight 2 and Expression Studio 2 at the company’s web designer and developer conference in Las Vegas.

The company also previewed Microsoft SQL Server Data Services and announced a strategic relationship with Move Networks at the MIX08 event.

“The web is at the centre of everything Microsoft is doing,” said Microsoft’s chief software architect, Ray Ozzie. “The investments we’re making will enable developers and designers to deliver a range of seamless, connected experiences across the continuum of web applications, rich clients, mobile and other devices.”

Microsoft said Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 delivers increased interoperability, offers developers better predictability when designing sites and will feature full support for cascading style sheet (CSS) 2.1 at release to manufacturing. It includes integrated developer tools to quickly debug HTML, CSS and scripts in a visual environment. Two new features, Activities and WebSlices, will enable developers to reach beyond the page and introduce news ways for users to stay connected to the content and services of their choice, the company claimed.

The Silverlight 2 beta includes innovative new features like Deep Zoom, over 40 new controls and a rich .NET base class library of functionality. Earlier in the week, Microsoft announced plans to deliver Silverlight for Windows Mobile and to work with Nokia on support for S60 on Symbian OS, as well as for Series 40 devices and Nokia internet tablets.

Microsoft is also working with a broad set of customers and partners in the ad-serving, analytics, creative agency and content delivery network sectors. At MIX08 DoubleClick demonstrated its Silverlight 2 SDK for in-stream advertising. Content publishers that deliver video content will be able to use this SDK within a Silverlight environment to target, serve, forecast and report on video-based advertising.

Microsoft also announced plans for a strategic alliance with Move Networks, a leading provider of live and on-demand long-form video content such as television episodes, news and sports programming. Silverlight would enable Move Networks to deliver an interactive, rich media navigation and integrated advertising on top of its online television service. Move Networks’ current customers include some of the largest media companies in the world such as ABC, FOX Broadcasting Company, ESPN, the CW, Televisa and others. These customers use Move Networks to stream their most popular shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Lost.

“Our strategic relationship with Microsoft represents a natural progression in the rapid evolution of online video delivery,” said John Edwards, CEO of Move Networks. “Microsoft Silverlight is emerging as a platform of choice for media companies seeking a reliable and highly configurable environment for the creation of rich video content. The integration of Move Networks’ streaming technology with Silverlight will allow customers to deliver the highest-quality viewing experience available online, driving online revenue and a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace.”

Microsoft also announced a new building-block software service, Microsoft SQL Server Data Services. The service is designed for developers building web-based applications which need a scalable, easily programmable and highly available utility-based data store.

By Niall Byrne