During his day one MIX11 keynote in Las Vegas (watch it: live.visitmix.com ), Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the Microsoft .NET Developer Platform, announced several offerings that are designed to make web development easier and more seamless, while giving developers the flexibility and freedom to use the tools they choose across cloud, web, and phone development.

Windows Azure: With new Windows Azure platform services and capabilities, developers can take advantage of skills they already know in order to build and scale web applications that can be hosted in the cloud. For example, the new version of Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control helps developers build federated authorization into applications. In addition, Windows Azure AppFabric Caching improves high-speed access and scalability for Windows Azure applications. You can sign up for these at the Windows Azure Portal.

For developers that want built-in media streaming capabilities via encrypted channels, the new Windows Azure Content Delivery Network for IIS Smooth Streaming is also being announced. The CTP of Windows Azure Content Delivery Network for IIS Smooth Streaming will be released in Q2 of this calendar year. To learn how to access the CTP, visit Windows Azure Portal.

Developers who need to balance application performance across multiple geographies will want to learn about the CTP of Windows Azure Traffic Manager CTP, which is available now. Information on applying for the CTP will be available on the Beta Programs section of the Windows Azure platform Management Portal.

Microsoft Web Platform: A number of new updates to the Microsoft Web Platform are now available, including the ASP.NET MVC 3 Tools Update, which gives web developers an array of newly built-in features, such as Entity Framework 4.1 with Code First; Scaffolding that automatically writes the Controller and database code; new HTML 5 markup support that lets developers style HTML5 elements in browser versions prior to Internet Explorer 8; and jQuery project templates. In addition, developers can easily access the latest versions of project templates by means of the NuGet feed.

Underscoring Microsoft's commitment to sponsoring open source projects, the latest release of Orchard 1.1 is also available. Orchard is a free open source content management system in the Outercurve Foundation's ASP.NET Open Source Gallery. To download the latest Microsoft Web Platform updates, including the latest release of Orchard, visit www.microsoft.com/web.

For more information, check out the MIX Virtual Press Room.