This week was Microsoft's MIX08 conference in Las Vegas. The event was filled with announcements, demos, and the debuts of new products, like IE8. Some of the news was expected, but there were other things that came as a surprise (like IE8!). If you weren't able to attend this year's conference, here's a guide to everything you missed.

The New Products/Technologies

Internet Explorer 8: If you haven't heard about IE8 yet (our review), then you must have been on a desert island for the past week. Microsoft's new browser, available now in beta form, offers a lot of new features. (See the complete list here for the items not on this list). Here's what you need to know about what's new for IE8:

  • ActiveX Improvements offer greater control over who can install the controls and on which sites they can run. Activities are a type browser extension that acts on user-selected content to perform an action, like "email" or provide more information, like "map this," or "translate this." These are contextual menu options which help you find info faster whereas before you would have to copy & paste from one web page to another.
  • WebSlices let you subscribe to content directly from within a web page. When content changes, you're notified on the Favorites bar (formerly called the Links bar).
  • Automatic Crash Recovery - this new feature will automatically restore a session if the browser crashes or hangs.
  • The Phishing Filter became the "Safety Filter," and now better detects spoofing. It also now blocks sites known to contain malicious software that could harm your computer or steal your info.
  • Compliance & Standards - CSS 2.1 Compliance, Better CSS printing, CSS Selector API support, Acid2 Support
  • AJAX Navigation lets you navigation back and forth in an AJAX application.
  • DOM Storage allows pages to cache text on the machine to reduce network latencies.
  • Connectivity Events allow websites to check whether you're online and receive notification of connectivity changes.
  • Six connections per host instead of two for broadband scenarios and a scriptable property allow for more improved performance by allowing parallelization of downloads in Internet Explorer 8.
  • XMLHTTPRequest Enhancements include a timeout property that can be set to cancel the request if necessary, allowing developers to manage the request better.
  • Integrated Developer Tools

Silverlight 2: the next version of Silverlight has arrived. Microsoft announced 1.5 million installs of Silverlight per day. Some of the new features include:


  • "Adaptive Streaming" gauges bandwidth capabilities on the client and picks the appropriate bit rate and encoding, which can be adjusted on the fly.

  • Progressive downloads will offer a burst of download at first, then throttle to only stay a certain number of seconds ahead of the user watching (as you determine), which saves on bandwidth costs.

  • Can use Ad Manager to track ads and engagement of ads made with Silverlight

  • Alerts can overlay on top of the video

  • Silverlight video can be rewound when streaming live content

  • Silverlight will offer picture-in-picture

  • New versions of Visual Studio, Expression Blend support Silverlight

  • Silverlight on mobile devices - the same code, assets, skills, and tools for running Silverlight can help you port it to mobile devices.

  • Silverlight controls offers templating capability, custom animation, state changes, all without having to write code making it easy for designers to skin apps.

  • Silverlight 2 will be available on Linux via partnering with Novell.

  • Silverlight + Seadragon - this is one of the coolest things seen at MIX08. Silverlight integrated Seadragon technology, now called DeepZoom. This high-resolution zooming technology allows you to zoom in and out quickly without the need to download an entire picture and it scales from mobile devices with slow connections to the fastest broadband connections


Silverlight + Deep Zoom

SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) are scalable, on-demand data storage and query processing web services and Microsoft's offering for storing data in the Cloud.


  • SSDS is accessible using standards based protocols (SOAP, REST) for on-demand data-driven & mashup applications.

  • Offer a business-ready SLA On-demand scalability

  • Companies also will be able to use Microsoft's Sync Framework to enable a form of offline access to SQL Server Data Services in an ability to sync offline data up with the cloud

Things You Gotta See

Who's Using What?

Silverlight is being used by AOL, Aston Martin, Cirque du Soleil, DoubleClick, Hard Rock, Move Networks and NBCOlympics.com on MSN. Silverlight Mobile is being used by Weatherbug

Takeaways

  • Time for another browser war.
  • Amazon may have been first with S3, but Microsoft isn't taking it lying down. SSDS lays the groundwork for them to bring more elements of SQL Server onto the web.
  • Did you see Deep Zoom? Microsoft did something cool.

Quotes

  • Ballmer on Yahoo: "We've made an offer. We've made an offer and it's out there, baby."
  • Guy Kawasaki said, "DVDs are so passe," (defending MacBook Air's lack of features). Ballmer retorts: "Tell that to your kids on a long flight, pal!"
  • Ballmer: "Web developers, Web developers, Web developers, Web developers!"
  • Weatherbug guy, regarding Silverlight Mobile: "we tried to do this with Flash - it didn’t work."