Silverlight for Xbox 360 imminent with Windows Phone gaming ahead of Windows 8 app store

Microsoft is reportedly planning to imminently add Silverlight support to the Xbox 360, with an announcement of the update tipped for MIX11 next week. According to WinRumors sources, Microsoft's engineers have been hard at work on the functionality "for some months" and could potentially be looking to allow Windows Phone developers to bring their apps over from the smartphone to the console.

That's because Windows Phone developers have already been coding apps for the mobile platform using Silverlight tools. Microsoft announced back in November 2010 that it intended to bring Silverlight – its Flash alternative – support to the 360, though failed to attach a specific timescale to the update.

The move is believed to be part of Microsoft's play to push the Xbox 360 into the middle ground between smartphones and PCs. The company is also believed to be using the platform for a new range of STBs that would work with its Mediaroom IPTV platform, though it's also been suggested that the Xbox could act as the STB instead.

Microsoft's Silverlight team has apparently committed to a mid-April ship date of Silverlight 5, though the company will  also push ahead with HTML5. It will be particularly useful for Windows 8 developers coding apps for slates and tablets, with a new Metro-based UI tipped and a new application model called "Jupiter" that will allow for Silverlight-based apps distributed as AppX packages through a new Windows application store pre-loaded onto the updated OS.