WEB 2.0 - Microsoft releases Popfly mashup tool in public beta

Microsoft's Popfly technology for building mashups is now in public beta and is integrated with Facebook.

Microsoft's Popfly technology for building mashups is now available in a public beta that allows users to publish applications built on it directly to the popular Facebook social-networking site.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce the beta during his talk at the Web 2.0 conference Thursday in San Francisco.

Popfly, which is built on Microsoft's Silverlight cross-platform browser technology, is an online tool that allows people to create Web sites and mashups that can be shared on the Web without having to write any code or have programming experience. The technology is available free and runs on the Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers.

Besides integration with Facebook, the ability to create mini Web-based applications, called Gadgets, that can run on Windows Live and the Sidebar tool in the Vista OS is also new functionality that wasn't in Popfly's alpha version. Microsoft also has simplified Popfly's user interface to make it easier and more intuitive for people to use.

Popfly is part of Microsoft's strategy to keep up with the latest technology to create Web-based applications. The company hopes to proliferate the use of Silverlight, which it introduced in April as a competitor to Adobe Systems' popular Flash technology. Silverlight is a modified version of Windows Presentation Foundation, the graphics framework found in Windows Vista, that provides a tool and an online player so video, audio and other types of interactive media can be offered on Web sites.

Ballmer also is expected to talk about the adoption of version 1.0 of Silverlight in his keynote. More than 50 organizations are now part of the Silverlight Partner Initiative and more than 40 Silverlight applications are now available, according to the company. Microsoft also has made Silverlight 1.0 available in 10 languages, and has redesigned the Silverlight community site.

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