Microsoft set the technology blogosphere buzzing March 5-7 in Las Vegas when it announced at its MIX08 developers conference that Internet Explorer 8 would be completely based on open standards. In addition, the company said that its new Silverlight 2, a competitive offering to Adobe Flash technology, will provide a “richer, more interactive” customer experience on the Web. DoubleClick, now part of Google, previewed its Silverlight 2 software development kit for in-stream advertising.
Ray Ozzie, chief architect for Microsoft Corp., the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant, told the audience, “The Web is at the center of everything Microsoft is doing. 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.”
Internet Explorer 8 is the next version of Microsoft’s Web browser, and in beta 1, it delivers “significantly improved standards support and developer platform investments with enhanced user experiences,” according to the company’s press release. 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. 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 includes new features such as Deep Zoom, more than 40 new controls and a rich .Net base class library of functionality. In addition to the beta release, Microsoft announced plans to deliver Silverlight for Windows Mobile and to work with Nokia on support for S60 on Symbian OS, the world’s leading smartphone software, as well as for Series 40 devices and Nokia Internet tablets. AOL, Aston Martin, Cirque du Soleil, Hard Rock and NBCOlympics.com on MSN have selected Silverlight for their Web applications due to its performance capabilities, integration with the .Net Framework and customizable advertising opportunities.
On the enterprise side, Microsoft also announced a building-block software service called Microsoft SQL Server Data Services. The service is designed for developers building Web-based applications that need a scalable, easily programmable and highly available utility-based data store.
Microsoft’s announced upcoming launch of the “Dynamic IT” initiative that includes Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 208 and SQL Server 2008 is designed to “help customers optimize their people, processes and technology, and in turn, position IT as a strategic asset for their business.”
Microsoft reinforced the idea of performance improvements with the new products by announcing world-record performance results for TPC-E and SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) Standard Application 3-tier benchmarks running on four-socket industry-standard blade servers. It also published performance benchmarks for customer scenarios that included companies of interest to manufacturing—Siemens PLM Teamcenter and Camstar manufacturing execution systems.