Microsoft has announced the availability of Silverlight 2, its Flash rival for creation and delivery of browser-based apps.

The company says Silverlight 2 "delivers a wide range of new features and tools that enable designers and developers to better collaborate while creating more accessible, more discoverable and more secure user experiences".

As well as making the platform more open for developers under licence and through a Control Pack, Microsoft says the new version offers improvements with built-in controls, better networking support, more programming language support and added DRM protection.

In addition, cross-browser support now includes support for Mac, Windows and Linux in Firefox, Safari and Windows Internet Explorer.

"We launched Silverlight just over a year ago, and already one in four consumers worldwide has access to a computer with Silverlight already installed", said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division at Microsoft.

"Silverlight represents a radical improvement in the way developers and designers build applications on the Web. This release will further accelerate our efforts to make Silverlight, Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Studio the preeminent solutions for the creation and delivery of media and rich Internet application experiences."

The update can be downloaded now from the Silverlight site, while existing users will get upgraded automatically.