Microsoft introduces Silverlight streaming for iPhone

Apple is known for being rather stubborn when it comes to foreign technology on their devices, particularly the iPhone. Flash is still banned from the product, and Silverlight was presumed to be the same. However, Microsoft has apparently worked with Apple to get compatibility for streaming Silverlight video on iPhones.

According to BetaNews, as Silverlight is a content delivery platform (not just video), the company targeted just the media delivery features for compatibility. This means that H.264 format video can stream wirelessly using Silverlight to an iPhone, without any extra work needed.

Microsoft's User Experience Platform Manager Brian Goldfarb was asked how they managed to get this working, considering Apple's stance with Adobe, you'd figure they'd be even more reluctant with their main rival; he replied with, "The promise of Silverlight is that it's a cross-device, cross-browser, cross-platform solution, and it works the same on Macs as it does on Windows. The iPhone is a unique scenario. We talked to our customers... and they said, 'Look, we just need to get our content there, and it's mainly in the media space like broadcasting, and we want to put it on the iPhone.' They have a great solution for that; if you're surfing the Web, and hit YouTube and hit 'Play,' it'll play your video because they've created an environment where they can safely play media, and they're comfortable with that." He then continued, "So we've worked with Apple to create a server-side based solution with IIS Media Services, and what we're doing is taking content that's encoded for smooth streaming and enabling the content owner to say, 'I want to enable the iPhone.' The server will dynamically make the content work -- same content, same point of origin -- on the iPhone. We do this with the HTML 5 VIDEO tag, in many ways."

Goldfarb explained how everything works himself, saying, "We're translating the content to support the MPEG2 v8 [decoder] format [of] the iPhone; we're moving it to their adaptive streaming format. So it's the same IIS smooth streaming content, the same server, the same point of origin, but now I can get that content to play without any code changes, without any real work, on the iPhone. That's the critical thing for our customers." If you'd like to see this in action on your iPhone, head to this link and check it out.

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55 Comments

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'ok maybe im an idiot for asking this but why wont apple allow flash on the iphone? flash is a big part of the web.'

It's part of Apple being ultra cool. They don't allow FLASH. But you can surf the Net as much as you like. Just don't go to any websites that use Flash (Like www.apple.com). Either that or just rewrite the entire Internet.

BTW: Does the toyPhone do JAVA yet?

ok maybe im an idiot for asking this but why wont apple allow flash on the iphone? flash is a big part of the web.

As a scripted engine, Flash would allow to run "unapproved" apps on the iPhone, completely bypassing the AppStore. Flash is rich enough to program complete applications, including UI, business logic, and so on.

"The promise of Silverlight is that it's a cross-device, cross-browser, cross-platform solution, and it works the same on Macs as it does on Windows."

But it doesn't. Silverlight is not a complete all-encapsulating implementation, it uses external programs and APIs, so it doesn't really work the same on all platforms (like for example Flash does).

There is no such thing as a completely encapsulated implementation. Flash must use the host OS API, simply because modern OS do not allow direct access to anything. You literally cannot execute a single instruction without explicit knowledge of OS about what you're doing (think thread scheduling).

neufuse said,
Microsoft can get this out for the iPhone, but Adobe can't get flash?
No. On YouTube, normally Flash-based, a special HTML5 page is crafted to feed the video in MP4 format to the iPhone, since Flash isn't available for the iPhone. MS is doing the same thing here. Silverlight is not available for the iPhone, and you can't use any Silverlight features on the iPhone. So all you can do is use it to play videos that can optionally be streamed through Silverlight. This could be done before MS's announcement. MS wants Silverlight to replace Flash, so MS is now trying to market the fact that you can use this to get around the fact that the iPhone doesn't support Silverlight.

This is good news for iPhone users forsure, and will no doubt help to pull more developers off of the flash platform and onto silverlight.

Give it a try. It should. The silverlight server seems to just be converting it to a usable streamable format common to mobile devices. Silverlight isn't installed on my iPhone.

This is all to get Netflix ready for the iPhone. Pure and simple. Especially since I think their content right now is designed for Silverlight 2, instead of the smooth streaming enabled in Silverlight 3.

Frankly Adobe needs to buck its ideas up generally in my opinion, not just with regards to the iPhone. Is Silverlight a flash killer? I think its extremely premature for anyone to suggest it. You could have the best idea in the world but if the consumer... or in this case the developer... doesnt "get it" then its a struggle for it to be a killer of any kind. And that is what remains to be seen. With HTML5 coming along... and flash being so... embedded in the internet users psyche.. its still early days to see if Silverlight can really become anything to replace it..... thats just my opinion though

Bemani Dog said,
I seriously doubt Silverlight is a Flash killer, especially with all the sites that have already joined and abandoned Silverlight. MLB comes to mind.

MLB is one site. And they should have stuck with it. They're recommending an untested beta for Flash in order to get performance to work. The last Olympics were webcast with Silverlight, the MJ memorial was as well. It works fine.

I never had any troubles with Silverlight, I'm glad Flash is getting some competition though admittedly Silverlight is broader than just video.

Wow, if only most YouTube videos looked that good. I'm really starting to love HTML 5 streaming. I also really like what Microsoft is doing with Silverlight here. Open standards are the way to go.

baw301 said,
Wait. So your for open standards and you love silverlight? I'm having trouble with your logic..


well then once you learn what silverlight is then come back and understand his logic.

Silverlight spec maybe open but its future development path is not..its in hands of MS and hence it will be impossible for any open implementation to keep up. It's open only in its name just like .net is.

It will keep up as much as people are willing to invest their time. Ms should keep it open but also invest in resources to keep all the platforms working so that nobody feels left behind.

XerXis said,
if you read the entire article it seems like this has nothing to do with silverlight?


Your right, kind of. It's not Silverlight on iPhone at all :P They're just taking videos encoded for smooth streaming and re-encoding them for the iPhone when its requested. it's not actually getting Silverlight to work at all =/

The thing is it's doing it all on-the-fly. So it doesn't matter if silverlight is on the client side with a plug-in, using the CPU/GPU to decode the video stream, or if it's on the server side (in this case) and basically transcoding it.

In the end, it's still using silverlight in both cases.

GP007 said,
The thing is it's doing it all on-the-fly. So it doesn't matter if silverlight is on the client side with a plug-in, using the CPU/GPU to decode the video stream, or if it's on the server side (in this case) and basically transcoding it.

In the end, it's still using silverlight in both cases.


Actually its not. Typicially the Silverlight player will just play a video file on the server in either WMV, MP4 or ISS format. This is just taking those video files and transcoding them to iPhone format (and saving that transcoded file for future use). It's not using Silverlight, the player or any of its technologies, bar transcoding Smooth Streaming videos. (Which itself is not a Silverlight technology, just a Microsoft technology implemented by Silverlight).

The smooth streaming is what I like about it, though ni was really impressed how fast the video started to play on Att 3g network when compared to how long it tales a YouTube video to load, buffer and start playing. It was almost instant.

Silverlight is not a closed standard. MS published XAML, under the Open Spec Promise, and .NET spec is published as well, so Silverlight is actually a reproducible technology.

Max1978 said,
Silverlight is not a closed standard. MS published XAML, under the Open Spec Promise, and .NET spec is published as well, so Silverlight is actually a reproducible technology.

True, which is why a project like Moonlight can exist.

Moonlight is light years behind sliverlight and same goes for Mono. The specs are published but the further enhancement is not and is solely in the hands of MS and that will make it difficult for any open implementation to keep up.

Too bad Apple won't allow Flash on the iPhone but until 10.1 proves to be gentler on mobile batteries, it isn't too wise. I'm surprised Apple even thought of letting this happen even with all the lame Get-a-Mac ads which have failed recently.

Apple didn't put Silverlight on the iPhone or allow it to run on the iPhone, Microsoft's system just now streams video in a format that the iPhone can already understand.

Websites that use flash could do a similar thing by detecting that the accessing device doesn't have flash and instead providing an HTML 5 inserted video in a format the iPhone understands.