Gates Touts Progress With Silverlight, IE8 Betas


But in addition to the stirring three-decade trip down Microsoft memory lane, Gates' final public speech as a full-time Microsoft employee included a big old bundle of partnership and technology announcements, including the availability later this week of Silverlight 2 beta 2.

Stability is the key selling point for Silverlight, and Silverlight 2 beta 2 also improves the overall video streaming experience, said Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, a Richmond, Calif.-based development firm. "Silverlight in streaming video is a mature platform. Windows Media Video 9 technology is totally baked and has broad support from Hollywood media groups," he said.

Microsoft is "hard at work" on Internet Explorer 8, and in August plans to release a second beta version in 20 languages, Gates said. Key new features of IE8 include Activities, which allow users to take their favorite online services and group them together; and Web Slices, which lets users subscribe to content on portions of Web pages and have it sent directly to their browsers.

In other news, Microsoft announced a partnership with IBM to allow developers to access and manipulate IBM DB2 database structures. For developers, this will make it possible to actually take the database offline and create new columns, tables, and database relationships, according to Dave Mendlen, director of the Developer Division at Microsoft.

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Microsoft launched the first community technology preview (CTP) of Velocity, an in-memory application cache that lets applications that require database lookups pull that data into memory, thus speeding performance by allowing multiple machines to use a single cache.