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Silverlight and Parallel .NET updates due from Microsoft

Jack Vaughan

Amid the fanfare on the last stop on Bill Gates's retirement tour, there were some interesting technology moves by Microsoft at TechEd for Developers 2008 in Orlando, FL. These included new CTPs for parallel programming and distributed in-memory caching, as well as word of Go Live license for Silverlight 2.0.

Microsoft development Vice President Soma Somasegar told TechEd attendees that Silverlight 2 beta 2 would be available later in the week with a commercial Go Live license. That means developers working with the betas have some assurance Microsoft will support them as they roll out commercial Silverlight products. The company hopes this will be the summer of Silverlight -- it will be a big part of NBC's 2008 Beijing Olympics online coverage.

Meanwhile, Microsoft disclosed details of an in-memory cache project code named "Velocity." Distributed caching has gained in use in the Java world, carried forward by companies such as Tangosol, now a part of Oracle. In its initial push, Velocity seems aimed at ASP.NET Web applications, which can benefit immediately from an architecture that can improve performance while not requiring unreasonable developer effort. Velocity is a candidate to become a core part of the .NET platform and could have use far beyond Web applications. Microsoft representatives confirm that high-availability computing is a direction they hope Velocity will take.

An update to the existing CTP of Parallel Extensions to the .NET Framework changes the prototype runtime used by the Task Parallel Library (TPL) with one "built from the ground up to be more robust, efficient, and scalable." TPL also exposes new functionality, including methods for continuations, according to Parallel .NET team members. Also, there are new synchronization and coordination types to enable the development of parallel applications. Such apps are becoming more prevalent -- and more challenging -- as multicore processors infiltrate the workplace.

Also in the onslaught of TechEd news comes word that Greg Leake's.NET StockTrader 2.0 and Configuration Services 2.0 download is available. Configuration has proved to be one of the less-fun elements of Web services integration, and Leake's sample application has wrestled ably with these issues.

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