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The Big List of What’s New or Improved in Silverlight 5

Pete Brown - 04 September 2011

Several of you have asked for a more complete list of the features that are new or improved in Silverlight 5, especially those new to the RC. Here is my mostly complete list of major features. I haven't included the tons of fixes and improvements, but maintained a focus on major features. (I say "mostly complete" so I have an out when I later realize I forgot something.)

Binding and Related

  • ICustomTypeProvider (see Alexandra Rusina's post)
  • Custom Markup Extensions
  • Ancestor RelativeSource Binding
  • Implicit Data Templates
  • Binding in Style Setters
  • DataContextChanged Event (new since beta)
  • PropertyChanged now an UpdateSourceTrigger option (new since beta)


  • XNA 3D API
  • Improved Graphics Stack
  • 3D Render targets (new since beta)
  • XNA 3D built-in effects (new since beta)
  • 3D surface composition settings (new since beta)
  • 3D multi-sample anti-aliasing (new since beta)



Operating System Integration

  • P/Invoke (new since beta) (also: My Printer Enum Example)
  • Multiple Windows
  • Unrestricted File System Access in Full Trust
  • Full Trust in-browser
  • Default Filename in SaveFileDialog and OpenFileDialog (new since beta)
  • 64 bit browser support for Windows (new since beta)
  • Power awareness for media apps (keep the PC alive while a movie is playing, for example) (new since beta)

Productivity and Performance

  • Network Latency Improvements
  • Databinding Debugging
  • Parser Performance Improvements
  • Multi-core JIT for improved start-up time



Why weren't these all in the initial list?

My initial list only had a few key features listed. Some, such as Tasks and Covariance/Contravariance made it into Silverlight without me realizing it. For the most part, I got the feature list by checking with the product team and by trolling our specs repository.

So how does stuff make it in without it being on a master Silverlight list? That's easy. Many teams at Microsoft contribute to Silverlight either directly, or through other things such as the core CLR, framework, and C# language. Since Silverlight shares much of that code, cool and exciting features make it in without showing up in a Silverlight feature list. A great example of this is Tasks from TPL. The right people did know those features made it in (people actually writing code, the testers etc.), I just hadn't noticed it. It's not a conspiracy to keep the TPL folks down, trust me :)

Learn More

Many of these features are documented on http://silverlight.net/learn via an increasing number of tutorials.

In addition to that, if you're looking for a one-stop shop for learning Silverlight 5, consider my book Silverlight 5 in Action, to be released in print near the end of this year. It's currently in MEAP, with purchasers able to download chapters as I make them available.

posted by Pete Brown on Sunday, September 4, 2011
filed under:    

16 comments for “The Big List of What’s New or Improved in Silverlight 5”

  1. Peter Kuhnsays:
    Some minor corrections:

    P/Invoke also is new since the beta

    Full trust in browser is not new in the RC, was in the beta:
    e.g. http://www.pitorque.de/MisterGoodcat/post/Silverlight-5-Tidbits-Trusted-applications.aspx

    ComboBox type-ahead also is not new in the RC, was in the beta:
    e.g. http://www.pitorque.de/MisterGoodcat/post/Silverlight-5-Tidbits-Incremental-Search.aspx
  2. Petesays:

    Unsafe code is an unsupported and windows-only side effect of having pinvoke support. It'll probably be there in RTM, but we're not calling it out as a supported feature. Use it at your own risk.

  3. Petesays:

    Nothing in-particular. However, the manning books all have an "about the cover" at the beginning that explains how they picked them and the backstory behind the book of medieval costumes.
  4. Davesays:
    I have installed Silverlight 5 RC and am unable to get the Windows MCE Remote to do anything new with Netflix streaming video in full screen mode or not. A few things work but they already worked on the old Silverlight version. "Should" SL5 work with Netflix? The movies play fine...
  5. Richard Watsonsays:
    "Default Filename in SaveFileDialog and OpenFileDialog (new since beta)" should read "DefaultFileName in SaveFileDialog and InitialDirectory in OpenFileDialog". I have the SL 5 RC.
  6. JMsays:
    This is great, and please keep Silverlight going. Yes, I believe that HTML is the future, but it would be a mess building complex, rich business apps with it today (you end up swimming in JavaScript). To Microsoft: please don't kill this rich platform off.

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