At MIX08, Microsoft Corp.’s Web designer and developer conference, Microsoft demonstrated its advances in a platform to enable delivery of richer, more interactive customer experiences on the Web.
Backed by customers including AOL, Aston Martin, Cirque du Soleil, Hard Rock and NBCOlympics.com on MSN, Microsoft unveiled the next generation of its Web technologies with beta releases of Internet Explorer 8, Silverlight 2 and Expression Studio 2.
Additional MIX08 news included a preview of Microsoft SQL Server Data Services, the announcement of a strategic relationship with Move Networks Inc., and DoubleClick Inc.’s preview of its Silverlight 2 software development kit (SDK) for in-stream advertising.
In Wednesday’s MIX08 keynote address, Ray Ozzie, chief software architect, shared his vision for the role of the Web and the services opportunity across Microsoft businesses. Dean Hachamovitch, general manager of the Internet Explorer team, demonstrated new features in Internet Explorer 8 for Web developers and end users, and Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division, highlighted advances in Silverlight, Expression Studio and Visual Studio that make it easier to deliver rich, connected experiences on the desktop, Web and beyond.
Internet Explorer 8 is the next version of Microsoft’s web browser, and in its first beta it delivers improved standards support and developer platform investments with enhanced user experiences. 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.
Internet Explorer 8 beta 1 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.
Silverlight 2 beta is also available for download now. This version introduces support for mobile devices, including Windows Mobile, Symbian S60, S40 and Nokia Itnernet tablets. Microsoft Silverlight provides a rich, cross-platform media and “zero-click” applications. For developers Silverlight 2 beta includes features such as Deep Zoom, more than 40 new controls and a rich .NET base class library of functionality.
The company also released a beta of Expression Studio 2, designed to work seamlessly with Visual Studio, enabling designers and developers to collaborate on the creation of better user experiences. Key new features of Expression Studio 2 include PHP support in Expression Web and support for Silverlight in Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Media Encoder and Expression Design.
To enable designers to start immediately exploring the power of Silverlight 2, Microsoft also announced the availability of Expression Blend 2.5 March 2008 Preview. Microsoft also introduced the Expression Professional Subscription, which includes the full suite along with a number of other programs.
Microsoft is also working with a broad set of customers and partners in the ad-serving, analytics, creative agency and content delivery network sectors. 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 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 experience that reaches all the way to HD. 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.