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Microsoft Silverlight - a Flash competitor

Posted on Monday, April 16 2007 @ 13:16:12 CEST by

Microsoft unveiled its new Silverlight technology at NAB2007. This is a new cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for media and rich interactive applications.

This rival to Adobe's Flash will be available for both the Mac and Windows platform, it will work on the Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari browsers. However, the press release doesn't talk about Linux support, so it looks like the "cross-platform" is quite limited.

Silverlight will use Microsoft's Windows Media Video (WMV) and the company's implementation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) VC-1 video standard. The technology also supports full-screen HD video and DRM based on the Microsoft PlayReady technology.

It looks like Netflix will be one of the companies to take advantage of Silverlight:
“Netflix is leading the way for people to rent movies for instant viewing over the Internet,” said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. “With 6.3 million members now and millions more in the next few years, Netflix needs rapid and reliable scalability so all members can enjoy DVD-quality movies immediately on our instant-viewing feature. We depend on Microsoft Windows Media technologies, and we’re excited about Microsoft Silverlight as a platform to enable instant watching of great content for all our members, on multiple platforms.”
“Content providers are seeking a way to deliver rich interactive applications using the tools and skills they already have. They want an end-to-end solution that enables them to rapidly reach multiple platforms with reasonable deployment costs,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. “Microsoft Silverlight delivers on this need and marks a real step forward for the industry. Silverlight is the only solution in the market today that enables content creators to tap into the broad ecosystem for Windows Media technologies while taking the Web’s rich interactive application experience to new levels.”

Leading media companies and solution providers have announced support for Silverlight including Akamai Technologies, Brightcove, Eyeblaster, Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball, NaviSite Inc., Netflix, Pinnacle Systems Inc., Rhozet Corp., Skinkers, Sonic Solutions, Tarari Inc., Telestream Inc. and Winnov. All have indicated plans to deliver Silverlight-based experiences for their viewers and customers.

Based on the Microsoft .NET Framework, Silverlight enables developers and designers to easily use existing skills and tools to deliver media experiences and RIAs for the Web with role-specific tools: for designers, Microsoft Expression Studio, and for developers, Visual Studio. New tool and server investments for media professionals include the following:
  • Expression Media Encoder. Microsoft Expression Media Encoder, which will be a feature of Microsoft Expression Media, enables rapid import, compression and Web publishing of digital video imported from a variety of popular formats, including AVI and QuickTime, into WMV. Capable of running on the desktop or Windows Server, Expression Media Encoder is a template-driven system that integrates seamlessly into existing Web publishing workflows for both live and on-demand content delivery. Expression Media Encoder will be a free download for customers of Expression Media when it is shipped later this year.
  • Hardware-accelerated video publishing. When paired with a Tarari Encoder Accelerator, Expression Media Encoder reduces encode times by up to 15 times over software alone, a significant capabilities and cost advantage for publishing Web video today.
  • Even greater scalability with Windows Server, code-named “Longhorn.” Building on the industry-leading streaming and Web server platform, Windows Server “Longhorn” will enable customers to experience up to twice the scalability on the same hardware when compared with Windows Server 2003. Also being announced today is the Internet Information Services 7 (IIS7) Media Pack, which adds new cost-saving features such as bit-rate throttling and other advanced features designed to help further reduce the cost of media distribution. The IIS7 Media Pack will be a free download for customers of Windows Server “Longhorn” when it ships.



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