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Microsoft Silverlight is a browser plugin that allows web applications to be developed with features like animation, vector graphics, and audio-video playback - features that characterize a rich internet application. Silverlight competes with products such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, Adobe Shockwave, Java FX, and Apple QuickTime. Version 2.0 of Silverlight provides additional capabilities, including advanced interactivity features. Significantly, version 2.0 allows developers to use .NET languages and development tools when authoring Silverlight applications.
Silverlight was developed under the codename Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E). It is compatible with multiple web browser products used on Microsoft Windows and MAC OS X operating systems. Support for the Linux operating system by the third-party Moonlight runtime is under development.
Silverlight supports playback of WMV, WMA and MP3 media content across all supported browsers without requiring Windows Media Player, the Windows Media Player ActiveX control or Windows Media browser plugins. Because Windows Media Video 9 is an implementation of the SMPTE VC-1 standard, Silverlight also supports VC-1 video, though still only in an ASF file format. Furthermore, the Software license agreement says VC-1 is only licensed for the "personal and non-commercial use of a consumer".
Silverlight makes it possible to dynamically load XML content that can be manipulated through a DOM interface, a technique that is consistent with conventional Ajax techniques. Silverlight exposes a Downloader Object which can be used to Download content, like scripts, media assets or other data, as may be required by the application. With version 2.0, the programming logic can be written in any .NET language, including some common dynamic programming languages like Ruby and Python.
Silverlight applications can be written in any .NET programming language. As such, any development tools which can be used with .NET languages can work with Silverlight, provided they can target the Silverlight CoreCLR for hosting the application, instead of the .NET Framework CLR. Microsoft has positioned Expression Blend 2.0 for designing the UI of Silverlight applications. Visual Studio 2008 can be used to develop and debug Silverlight applications. However, Visual Studio 2008 requires the Visual Studio Tools for Silverlight (currently an alpha release) to create Silverlight projects, and let the Compiler target CoreCLR. A Silverlight project contains the Silverlight.js and CreateSilverlight.js files which initializes the Silverlight plugin for use in HTML pages, a XAML file for the UI, and code-behind files for the application code. Silverlight applications are debugged in a manner similar to ASP.NET applications. Visual Studio's CLR Remote Cross Platform Debugging feature can be used to debug Silverlight applications running on a different platform as well