Microsoft has now finally released Silverlight 5, the latest major version of its web browser plug-in designed for video and other multimedia programs. The 7 MB file can be downloaded at Microsoft's web site. The new version supports both Windows and Mac operating systems along with the four major web browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari.
Microsoft talks about some of the new features in Silverlight 5 on its blog site:
New features in Silverlight 5 include Hardware Decode of H.264 media, which provides a significant performance improvement with decoding of unprotected content using the GPU; Postscript Vector Printing to improve output quality and file size; and an improved graphics stack with 3D support that uses the XNA API on the Windows platform to gain low-level access to the GPU for drawing vertex shaders and low-level 3D primitives.
In addition, Microsoft says that it will support Silverlight 5 all the way up to November 12, 2021 for the browsers it supports.
There's still no word yet on the future of Silverlight development. There are rumors that Microsoft has no plan to release a Silverlight 6. The company has already stated that Internet Explorer 10, which will be released around the time of Windows 8, will do away with plug-in support in favor of HTML5 programs.