Second Life released a new version of its viewer today, Second Life Viewer 2 Beta, offering easier navigation and additional functionality. The biggest single improvement is the ability to see media on in-world surfaces — not just a single QuickTime video per region, but Flash and even live Web pages.
The viewer also rearranges the view screen, putting browser-style back and home buttons, a location bar, and a search field at the top of the screen.
The viewer is available on multiple platforms.
Like previous Second Life viewers, SL Viewer 2 can be used to access OpenSim grids by editing a shortcut command (OSGrid access instructions here.)
Reviews have been generally positive. Ron Blechner offered “21 Reasons the New Second Life Viewer 2.0 is a Huge Improvement.”
According to Rita JKing, innovator-in-residence at IBM’s Analytics Virtual Center, the new viewer is “a new dimension in collaborative creativity.”
Virtual worlds blogger Dusan Writer said that the viewer is the beginning of a series of steps that “that promise to radically transform the virtual world, its culture, its ability to integrate with the wider digital landscape, and its ability to attract new users.”
Users have also already posted videos showing off some of the features of the new viewer, including the one below, demonstrating the ability to share media.
“The whole strategy is to break down the walls to make Second Life much more accessible to users and make it possible for all this incredibly rich content to travel outward—to travel to the web and be shared,” said Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdom told technology evangelist Robert Scoble.
But nto all reactions were completely positive. Some users reported frequent crashes, or problems getting used to thte new interface. In addition, the new viewer’s functionality is not yet supported by OpenSim.
“SL Viewer 2 is a bit of a disaster in OpenSim,“ said IBM senior architect Peter Finn. “It is too tightly integrated with [the] Second Life back end.”
However, the ability to pull WebEx, Google Docs, YouTube videos into a virtual world would be “perfect” for government, educational and enterprise users.
“OpenSim needs to take advantage of new features,” he said.