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Moonlight 1.0 release brings Silverlight to Linux

Moonlight, an open source implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight platform for RIAs, has passed all of Microsoft's regression tests, according to project lead Miguel de Icaza. With the 1.0 release, the project now turns its focus towards catching up with Silverlight 2.0.

The open source port of Silverlight to Linux reached a milestone on Wednesday with the release of Moonlight 1.0, a fully featured implementation of Silverlight 1.0.

Silverlight is Microsoft's rich Internet application (RIA) platform and competes with Adobe Flash. Moonlight 1.0 passes all of Microsoft's regression tests for Silverlight, according to project lead Miguel de Icaza, vice president of engineering at Novell, which sponsors Moonlight.

Moonlight is only available on Linux and Unix, but is otherwise interchangeable with Microsoft's Silverlight 1.0 plugin, de Icaza said.

But although Wednesday's release is a major accomplishment, the real goal behind Moonlight is to catch up to Microsoft by releasing a fully functional port of Silverlight 2.0, de Icaza said. Silverlight 2.0, which Microsoft released in October, features several substantial new features, including support for .NET languages and a subset of WPF. Silverlight 1.0 can only be programmed with JavaScript, just as Flash can only be programmed in ActionScript.

Much of Microsoft's recent RIA strategy has focused on features specific to Silverlight 2.0, and particularly its line of business controls. The Moonlight group plans to preview its 2.0 release at MIX09 in March and come out with a beta in the summer, with the final version hopefully ready by PDC, de Icaza said.

With Silverlight 2.0 already out for several months, this release of Moonlight may have come a few months too late to gain widespread adoption within the Linux community, de Icaza admitted. But since Silverlight 1.0 is a strict subset of Silverlight 2.0, the 1.0 release is a necessary step, he said. Much of Silverlight's core functionality, including the basic pipeline and the ability to interact with JavaScript in a RIA application's host page, will be reusable for Moonlight 2.0, de Icaza said.

In the meanwhile, Moonlight is already improving the Web for Linux users who have until now been unable to watch WMP videos, de Icaza said. Microsoft is providing its codecs to Moonlight, meaning that Moonlight applications can play WMP files. One such application, Moonshine, presents itself to Firefox as Microsoft's Media Player plugin, meaning that Linux users can use it to view Windows Media content within their browsers.

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