Playboy Enterprises has made 53 back issues of Playboy magazine free for download at using Microsoft's Silverlight technology. The launch is part of the lead up to the debut of a new online digital magazine magazine distribution system called Cover To Cover by Bondi Digital Publishing.

The launch was made at Microsoft's MIX09 conference in Las Vegas. Bondi has confirmed that Playboy and Rolling Stone will be the first two magazine archives to become available later this year.

To bring Rolling Stone and Playboy to life digitally, Bondi Digital Publishing scanned and re-typed 636 issues of Playboy -- a total of over 115,000 printed pages and more than 93,000 photos -- as well as all 1024 issues of Rolling Stone through May 2007 (over 125,000 printed pages).

To help build the Cover To Cover site, Bondi Digital Publishing engaged Vertigo, a Web design and development company in the San Francisco area.

"We were given two top priorities: to provide as close to a magazine reading and browsing experience on the Web as possible, and to offer an interactive search system enabling users to find just the content they’re looking for," said Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo. "These were ambitious goals. With a combination of Microsoft Silverlight 2, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Vertigo’s BigPicture product, we nailed both goals.”

Cover To Cover takes advantage of Silverlight Deep Zoom, allowing users to smoothly pan and zoom magazine content. Bondi is currently evaluating the new features of Silverlight 3, as announced at MIX 09 along with a beta version of the Expression Blend creative tool , and considering adding features such as pixel shaders and perspective transforms to provide a richer experience with Cover To Cover.

The general public will get their first look at the site in the summer of 2009 when the public beta launches.

Read our guide to the creative possibilities offered by Microsoft's Silverlight and WPF technologies.