Microsoft teams with Tesco, previews Silverlight 4

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Microsoft is to unveil Silverlight 4, the next version of its Flash rival, next week, showing off new features including offline digital rights management.

Silverlight 3 was only just released in July, and the next version doesn't yet have a release date.

Whenever it does arrive, Silverlight 4 will offer offline DRM using Microsoft's PlayReady tech, as well as native mulit-cast support. For example, PlayReady DRM will allow for digital copies of movies to be sent to customers, without losing control of the rights.

From this autumn, Tesco will use the system to give customers who buy DVDs of movies a digital copy as well as "extras" like ringtones and games.

Rob Salter, category director for entertainment at Tesco, said in a statement: "For the first time, consumers will be able to enjoy a DVD equivalent experience with digital movies, which paves the way for more advanced viewing experiences enabled through Silverlight.

Silverlight 4 will be shown off next week in Amsterdam at the International Broadcasting Conference.

Microsoft also announced Internet Information Services (IIS) Media Services 3.0, which it said would help offer smooth streaming content and simplify Silverlight delivery. IIS Media Services 3.0 uses an integrated HTTP-based platform to stream full high-def content.

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