During a recent visit to Microsoft the Windows IT Pro staff got to sit down with Brian Goldfarb, Director of Microsoft’s Development Platform Group. Brian pointed out that a big focus for Microsoft development tools has been in the area of Rich Internet Applications (RIA).  Brian shared with us some of Microsoft’s newest web developments including Microsoft’s ASP.NET AJAX, the new ASP.NET Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework, and Silverlight.

Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX allows developers to create web applications that include rich and responsive user interface components such as tooltips, pop-up windows and progress indicators. ASP.NET AJAX is compatible with the most frequently used browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. The goal is not just to provide cool looking user interfaces but to also enable applications to provide a great platform for business applications that make business processes work better.

Brian noted that the new ASP.NET MVC framework is a response to Web 2.0. ASP.NET MVC separates web application components into Models which implement application logic, Views, that implement the application’s UI, and Controllers that handle user interaction and select the View to show to the user. MVC applications are supported via new project templates that are part of Visual Studio 2008. The new ASP.NET MVC project support makes it easier to handle application complexity and perform testing. Brian pointed out that It’s important to understand that ASP.NET MVC is an alternative to traditional ASP.NET Web Forms and that Microsoft fully intends to continue support for both ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Forms going forward.

Brian also mentioned that Microsoft Silverlight has been rapidly gaining in adoption and that there have been approximately 300,000,000 Silverlight downloads so far. Brian showed us an amazing demo of the Hard Rock Café’s new Silverlight implementation. This demonstration highlighted Silverlight’s Deep Zoom technology. It started with a view of Paul McCartney’s signature. Then the demo began the process of zooming out. The next view showed the signature was actually an inscription on a figurine. Then the view zoomed out again to show the figures were a part of Hard Rock Café storefront display. Each time the view zoomed out you can see a larger view than the last. The next zoom showed that the storefront display was actually one tile in a 4 x 4 tiled postage stamp. Finally, the view ended up showing that the stamp was part of letter mailed by Paul McCartney. The resolution at each level was crystal clear and was legitimately cool. You can check out the Hard Rock Café’s Silverlight implementation at www.hardrock.com on the Memorabilia link. To see the current postage stamp view (which is a bit different from the one we saw demoed) select The Beatles link and then begin clicking on the letter shown in the bottom row third image from the left.

Another really well known site that Brian mentioned that was been built using Microsoft technologies is MySpace. The www.MySpace.com site is built with 100% Microsoft technology including .NET Framework, ASP.NET, IIS and SQL Server.