Clearly Santa Claus was in town this week. His latest trip has brought at least two interesting (at least for me) new products: Silverlight 5 and Windows Server AppFabric 1.1.

Silverlight 5

Community of .NET developers has at least few important milestones marked in their calendars. One of them (maybe even the most important one) is BUILD Conference - usually Microsoft uses this event as an opportunity to announce new products and / or emphasize their focus on some trends. After this year’s BUILD conclusions were pretty obvious: good bye Silverlight, long live HTML5. There was no single prelection / topic related to Silverlight during whole event. Knowing Microsoft (and their stubbornness in following once chosen path), one could suspect that they didn’t say their last word about Silverlight.

And here it is, Silverlight version 5. What does it bring then? Not that much really. few new controls (incl.: PivotViewer, DrawingSurface) we could live without, minor improvements in media support, ability to use hardware accelerated 3D graphics (due to XNA), improvements in text rendering (incl.: new RichTextBlock and controled spacing). One cool thing I really like is ability to debug binding in XAML files. On the top of all that, Microsoft claims there are some performance improvements present as well.

Honestly, all that seems like minor tweaks for me. Big question mark about Silverlight’s future is still present (maybe even larger that it was before).

Windows Server AppFabric 1.1

What about new release of Microsoft’s application server? It seems that all improvements are related to distributed multi-machine cache (I list the major ones only): 
  • Read Through / Write-Behind - helps to keep cache synchronized in back-end (like database)
  • Graceful Shutdown - helps avoiding cache data lose when you want to close one host of cache cluster (data will be automatically moved to other cache hosts)
  • Domain Accounts - you can run Caching Service as a domain account now
  • Support for caching of ASP.NET Session State
  • Compression for cache clients
Same story then - I don’t see anything that really makes the difference here. However, I didn’t expected much anyway, as it’s just a minor version upgrade (1.0 to 1.1).