On the second day of Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference 2009, Microsoft outlined new opportunities and resources for developers to create new Windows applications. Microsoft also invited developers to test new beta versions of Silverlight 4, Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.

“The tremendous support behind Windows 7 equates to tangible opportunity for developers on the Windows platform,” said Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows and Windows Live Division. “We’re looking forward to the new ways that they will bring Windows and the Web to life for all of our customers.”

Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President of the .NET Developer Platform, announced the public beta of Silverlight 4, only four months after delivering Silverlight 3. Guthrie noted that the newest version of Silverlight includes features such as extended out-of-browser capabilities to enable deeper desktop experiences without additional code or runtimes. It also features powerful enhancements for enterprise application developers, including full support for Visual Studio 2010, integration with Microsoft Office and SharePoint, and improved printing, networking, reporting and charting capabilities. And it promises richer Web experiences including new webcam and microphone capabilities, native multicast support for wide-scale media content delivery, and more than 60 customizable controls to build compelling, interactive applications. Silverlight 4 beta can be downloaded at www.microsoft.com/foo.

Silverlight 4 beta marks another significant step forward as Microsoft continues to rapidly innovate and enable developers to deliver rich applications across three screens,” said Guthrie. “Silverlight 4 provides developers with a full suite of capabilities to rapidly build high-quality, secure and engaging applications, on the Web or beyond the browser, affirming Silverlight’s position as the leading choice for building business applications.”

Kurt DelBene, Senior Vice President of the Office Business Productivity Group, closed the keynote session by announcing the release of the public betas of Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Visio 2010, Microsoft Project 2010, Microsoft Office Mobile 2010, and Office Web Apps for business customers. The 2010 release is designed to give people the best productivity experience across PCs, phones and browsers. The betas can be downloaded at: www.microsoft.com/2010.

A key new feature in the betas is Outlook Social Connector. This new capability brings communications history, business and social networking feeds into the Outlook experience. . The Outlook Social Connector will enable both business and social networking by integrating with SharePoint 2010 at beta and Windows Live at launch. Business networking website LinkedIn is the first to commit to provide a connector early next year.

“It really has three layers,” said Jason Brommet, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft Canada

“First, it will string together conversation trends with individuals. Outlook will crawl across an index of related documents, and will show things in common.” If you don’t want this data, you can turn it off, or minimize it, Brommet added.

“The second layer is for business organizations within Sharepoint,” Brommet said. “Outlook Social Connector will pull updates in from Sharepoint.” These can be turned off or minimized as with the previous layer.

The third later is third party apps, and to this end, Microsoft has released the Outlook Social Connector SDK for developers to build these connectors to Outlook.

An Office Mobile 2010 public beta is also available, which works for anyone with a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone. It can be found at the Windows Mobile marketplace for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones.

All these provide strong partner opportunities, Brommet said.

“We’ve been working with our partner ecosystem as part of our early adopter programs – looking at new opportunities for them to grow their business,” he said. “Sharepoint 2010 is now that single business productivity program and we’ve had lots of feedback from our partner community on their opportunity to build great applications of top of Sharepoint.”

“Many partners are doing interesting things in the social space, and it’s another great new opportunity to build compelling solutions on top of Office, and bring social into the corporate environment.”