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Silverlight 4 RC and Windows Phone Marketplace Unveiled at MIX

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Silverlight 4 RC and Windows Phone Marketplace Unveiled at MIX

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On the first day of Microsoft's annual developer conference, some big announcements have just been made.  Microsoft launched the first release candidate for Silverlight 4 and they also unveiled the Windows Phone Marketplace, which is going to replace the earlier Windows Marketplace for Mobile.  Microsoft also surprised many by saying that Silverlight installations are approaching 60% of all internet devices worldwide.

15% of that increase has come in the last four months, says Microsoft.  The Silverlight 4 beta was released in November 2009 and now, within a month, it is expected to go GA.  Microsoft will continue its fast-paced release cycle in an effort to build a more fierce competitor for Flash.  The RC includes new features such as XAP Signing, Pinned full-screen mode, a WCF RIA Services Toolkit, and ContextMenu control.  For a full overview of what's new in the Silverlight 4 RC compared to the beta, check out Tim Heuer's blog post.

Silverlight 4 Facebook Client with new custom window chrome:



Along with the Silverlight release candidate, Microsoft is also releasing the Expression Blend 4 beta and Expression Blend for Windows Phone.  The new features in Expression Blend 4 allow developers and designers to build rich interfaces with plenty of tools that can create complex UIs.  There is a tutorial series available for Expression Blend on DZone.

A new developers tool package will be available for Windows Phones along with the Silverlight 4 RC download.  Microsoft recently announced that Silverlight will be the application development platform for the new Windows Phones along with Xbox's XNR framework. The new Windows Phone 7 series will run the full Silverlight 4, and not just a lite version.  The package will also come with Expression Blend for Windows Phone, and Visual Studio 2010 Express.

The Windows Phone Marketplace will be a major break from the old Marketplace for Mobile and from competing app store models.  The revenue share rate for Windows Phone apps will be 70%, a very favorable ratio for developers.  The marketplace will open with access to thirty countries and customers will be able to try applications before buying them.  

Clearly Microsoft is stepping up its game to compete with the leading RIA and mobile platforms (i.e. Apple, Adobe).  The velocity of the Silverlight releases and the complete transformation of their mobile platform is staggering.  The only question is whether the development community and consumers will rally around Microsoft's RIA and mobile transformations in the coming months. 

Be sure to read Alvin Ashcraft's in-depth coverage of MIX 10 for a complete picture of what attendees are learning.

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