Microsoft ushers in Silverlight 5 with a hush

Software giant Microsoft quietly released its new version of Silverlight 5, probably in the hope that no one will notice.

Silverlight 5, the latest major version of its application framework competitor to Adobe’s Flash, has cropped up. But Vole clearly isn’t interested in it anymore.

Silverlight 5 adds GPU-based H.264 media decoding and various other features intended to improve quality and performance.

The plug-in was originally supposed to come in November, but Microsoft missed the deadline probably because it lost a lot of enthusiasm for a product which has as much future as a person hired to advise the UK government on getting the EU to do what it is told.

Sadly, Silverlight 5 does have few interesting things, according to a Volish bog.

When enabled via a group policy registry key and an application certificate, users won’t need to leave the browser to perform complex tasks. This means that multiple window support, full trust support in-browser including COM and file system access, in browser HTML hosting within Silverlight, and P/Invoke support for existing native code can be run directly from Silverlight, the team wrote.

Silverlight 5 makes use of Postscript Vector Printing to improve output quality and file size . It also includes a 3D-supporting graphics stack that uses the XNA API to access the GPU for some rendering functions.

The beta for Silverlight 5 has been around since April which was about the time that Vole started to get all moist about HTML5 technology.

Silverlight is proprietary and belongs to a time when Vole believed that everything had to be done in-house and using open source gave you the clap.

Microsoft is encouraging developers to write apps for the upcoming Windows 8 platform using HTML5, but it is not saying nice things about Silverlight. In fact it is not talking about the future of Silverlight beyond version 5, which means that it has the software equivalent of a terminal illness.