Microsoft Silverlight 3 to Shine on July 10

With all of the attention on the launch of Bing, the news that Microsoft quietly announced it is going to deliver version 3 of its Silverlight streaming media technology on July 10 at an “invitation only” event in San Francisco went almost unnoticed.

Microsoft has gone out of its way to inform the world what will be in Silverlight 3 — there’s little that the company hasn’t already talked about in public — so the delivery date itself was a surprise of sorts.

The event theme, according to the invitation, is “See the Light.

“Join us for the launch of Silverlight 3 and Expression Studio 3,” it reads.

Until now, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) had only been saying it would deliver final versions of the two products by the end of the year. Instead, it turns out that the company will deliver them only slightly over halfway through the year.

Microsoft kicked off beta testing for Silverlight 3 and also released a preview of a major update to Expression Blend, one of the key Web design tools in the Expression Studio suite, at its Mix09 conference in Las Vegas in March.

Silverlight 3, the company’s competitor to Adobe Flash, promises major media enhancements — including H.264 video support — as well as 3D support and GPU hardware acceleration, according to Microsoft statements. It will also run applications outside a browser, including on mobile devices.

Expression Blend 3 adds SketchFlow, a new capability to help designers prototype both the flow and composition of applications. It also supports importing Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator files – including both layers and paths.

Finally, developers can use a “superpreview” mode that lets them try out their designs under Internet Explorer (IE) 8, IE7, IE6, Apple’s Safari, and Mozilla’s Firefox, without exiting Blend, the company statements said.

Microsoft did not provide any further details about the launch event.

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