Microsoft Green Lights Silverlight

    April 16, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Developers are buzzing about Microsoft’s latest release, Silverlight, a video plug-in application that spans video formats, allowing them to viewed through one video channel. Though there is a secret feature to be revealed in the coming weeks, the revealing of Silverlight is already being touted as an affront to Adobe.

Microsoft debuted Silverlight yesterday at the National Association of Broadcasters Conference in Las Vegas.

But both Tim Sneath, Windows Vista Technical Evangelist, and S. Somasegar, Microsoft’s Developer Division veep, say there is more to come at the company’s MIX conference at the end of the month. That withheld nugget involves how Silverlight will become a core component of Microsoft’s broader .NET platform.

The announcement also comes at a time when Adobe is set to reveal plans for its own Adobe Media Player, officially putting both companies in the same arena for the first time. WebProNews’s David Utter has more on the Adobe Media Player.

Microsoft calls Silverlight "the next generation of rich interactive applications (RIAs) for the Web." Formerly codenamed Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E) (which almost sounds like a radio station for the middle of nowhere), Silverlight is available for both Mac and PC and interoperates with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari web browsers.

What’s more, Silverlight plays several different video formats, including AVI and QuickTime, converting them into WMV files. It’s also "both client and server agnostic," not requiring Microsoft software on the server to run it. The company says Silverlight can run on Apache/Linux, and Mac OS 10.4 client.

Along with the platform launch itself, several other companies announced support for Silverlight. 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 plan to offer Silverlight for viewers and customers.

“We’ve consistently heard from the media companies that they want the ability to easily implement key technologies for Internet video and rich broadband experiences,” said Bob Mason, chief technology officer at Brightcove.

“With the release of Silverlight, Microsoft is bringing rich interactive experiences coupled with the VC-1 video standard into the browser, and we’re excited to announce plans to support this technology and continue to give our customers access to the cutting-edge technologies that will drive the growth of Internet TV.”

Microsoft has kept the download light at just 1MB on the PC (more on the Mac). Silverlight can be installed on XP with support for Windows 2000 on the horizon.

5 Things To Know About Silverlight:

1.    Silverlight uses Windows Media Video (WMV), Microsoft’s implementation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) VC-1 video standard, enabling compatibility with content already available on the Web, and supporting full-screen high-definition (HD) and mobile video.

2.    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.

3.    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.

4.    Silverlight supports full-screen 720p video and offers seamless transitions between full-screen and windowed mode without losing your position in the video.

5.    XAML can be embedded directly within HTML files. XAML elements are accessible from the client-side JavaScript that used to interact with DHTML without artificial boundaries. Developers can overlay HTML elements on top of Silverlight content, or add content for use with ASP.NET AJAX.