Microsoft releases Silverlight 3.0

Today Microsoft launched its latest effort to "Light up the web", Silverlight 3 which is now available for download.

Silverlight has come a long way since its version 1.0 launched in 2007. It has even attracted big players like Netflix who use it as their primary video player. 3.0 brings a host of improvements such as "Smooth Streaming" and "out of browser experiences". Web developers will also appreciate the built in support for GPU acceleration.

Silverlight 3 introduces more than 50 new features, including 3D support, GPU acceleration, H.264 video support and out-of-the-browser capabilities to Silverlight.. The out-of-browser support will enable developers to build applications that work like Adobe's AIR plugin. Dramatic video performance and quality improvements are also included.

One of my personal favorite features of 3.0 is the inclusion of Microsoft's Smooth Streaming, the development of which was spearheaded by the Zune team. First shown at this year's E3, Smooth streaming allows you to watch 720P+ video instantly... with no buffering. You can see sample of how it works at the official site http://www.iis.net/media/experiencesmoothstreaming .Silverlight & Smooth Streaming was most recently used during Michael Jackson's memorial service at the Staples Center live in Los Angeles. The quality and scaling was amazing, it could take the Live stream from sub-YouTube quality to 720P+ in a matter of seconds .

Only time will tell if Silverlight can make market share progress against Flash, but if 3.0 is any indication of future releases of Silverlight. Flash may want to start keeping an eye in its rearview mirror.

I ran some quick unscientific tests to see how Silverlight & Flash stacked up when it came to CPU useage. They where tested on a Quad Core PC with 4 GB's of ram. I tested a Youtube "HQ" stream Vs Silverlight Smooth Streaming in HD. As you can see from the results, Silverlight not only had lower CPU usage, but it also used the four cores more uniformly.

Silverlight 3.0 is available for download right now at http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/resources/install.aspx

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft is planning an Office party on Monday

Next Story

New iPhone patents, object identification and more

131 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I'm not running it, but is Silverlight supported in Linux? If not, that is definitely an up for Flash IMO. Still, healthy competition is always a good thing. Hopefully Adobe will raise the bar for Flash due to Microsoft's efforts with Silverlight.

Adobe, unless severely threatened will never address performance issues - EVER! As an active user of more then half their products, i simply hate them for the sluggish behaviour of all their software.

Then again, i love them for the tools they invented in the first place.

Yeah, ESPN, Wimbledon, Masters, US Open, British Open, MLB all use Flash. My one major experience w/Silverlight was the Olympics and my provider was not on the "list" so i could not access any live feeds. Seems like that was rather dumb as it cut down on users finding a use for the plugin, but NBC did not care about that (their goal was not to expand the install base-that's MS's problem.) I just don't see a lot out there right now.

What are you going on about? You posted the link to the chart yet the chart shows that it works on all browsers available for Windows and OSX.

Then later on it says Opera support will be officially added with future builds, so it doesn't even take 3.0 into account. And also says Linux and it's browsers are supported through Novell with Moonlight.

So again, how the hell does it not work the same across all OSes and browsers?

Check again. 3.0 isn't supported under OS X in sync with 3.0 for Windows, PPC is going on ignored, Opera is not yet supported. MS & Novell's effort is also a joke and their distribution requirements for the *nix versions means that it can't be included by the distro provider.

PPC for OSX is ignored by Apple itself, so why bother? Opera works, others have said so already, maybe you should give it a try and see?

And where does it actually say it "can't be included" in major distros? All another distro has to do is get it from Novel or a Intermediate Recipient" and that it must be "not licensed under GPLv3 or a Similar License".

Nothing there stops any other distro from getting moonlight from the Mono people. Or from you getting it after.

As for Opera, check again

And as for distribution of Moonlight with distros, their "covenant not to sue" cannot be inherited, so third parties that wish to distribute it in their distribution cannot include it, so not all distros can ship with it or include it in their repositories.

All of this sets an uneven landscape for developing software.

yes you can use silverlight in FF, it is installed as a plugins (not a extension).

The only limiting is to install silverlight outside Windows and OSX, silverlight is not compatible with linux, for linux you can install moonlight.

Having watched many old techdays and the recent PDC from microsoft's live streaming I can say I'm more than impressed by the easyness and the quality of the product. I have seen no slow down (try to open 30 *tube(the porn one) window at once,even with quad core 6gb gtx 275 !) so far with this and the quality is incredible.

I cannot see the html tag come to fruition ... AFAIK it doesn't do live-buffer, scale as beautifully or support all these platform without installing 3rd party codec (and the need to encode them, here silverlight will do that for you).

po134 said,
Having watched many old techdays and the recent PDC from microsoft's live streaming I can say I'm more than impressed by the easyness and the quality of the product. I have seen no slow down (try to open 30 *tube(the porn one) window at once,even with quad core 6gb gtx 275 !) so far with this and the quality is incredible.

I am afraid to question about it but, whats in the hell a person want to have 30 pron videos running at once?.

For me, your screenshots state that Flash uses less CPU than Silverlight. That's the first thing.

And second, to make a real client comparison, you should test the HD content given by the same server, with the same bandwidth and HW parameters - just to ensure that "IIS streaming" has got something better than the Flash mechanisms.

All in all, let's wait for the coming Flash Player release

mormat said,
For me, your screenshots state that Flash uses less CPU than Silverlight. That's the first thing.

And second, to make a real client comparison, you should test the HD content given by the same server, with the same bandwidth and HW parameters - just to ensure that "IIS streaming" has got something better than the Flash mechanisms.

All in all, let's wait for the coming Flash Player release

Flash spiked on 2 cores at some point there. What if those spikes translated into stuttering? I'd prefer a stable low cpu usage all day.

And, lets not forget, silverlight used all cars equally, showing how optimized and balanced it is at this point. Much better use of resources period.

Everyday it seems that Flash-based video has bigger problems around the web. On almost all the sites i have seen the video gets buggy, stutters and the buffering is slow...Tested on different browsers, different sites and the latest Flash version available.

My personal experience with Flash video is not good at all. And there is always the quality factor; something Silverlight addresses in great way with MS encoder and their developer tools...

However, Silverlight stills need to penetrate a little more to make sites and content creator to switch to it.

If someone out there one day can make some kind of wrapper that replaces the flash ocx to use silverlight instead, then silverlight will be worth it. hehe

mocax said,
anyone tried the video streaming on GPRS speed?

Tried it, gives an error message after it tries to play for about one minute. This was real GPRS though, not even EDGE. My guess is that it would work with EDGE.

Don't forget that MS sites always have better bandwidth that most sites don't have. Try downloading a file off microsoft then try downloading the same file from another site, big difference if you ask me.

gtho said,
Don't forget that MS sites always have better bandwidth that most sites don't have. Try downloading a file off microsoft then try downloading the same file from another site, big difference if you ask me.

Its called Akamai.

I for one which that dream becomes a reality. Unless you wanna keep using crappy flash forever. Then that's more like a nightmare.

I never really understood the point of Silverlight. I know TSN streaming uses Silverlight and I agree with one of the above posts that if YouTube were to use Silverlight to produce instant streaming, then yes, MS has done a wonderful job. However, I really don't know any sites that use Silverlight.

way2quik said,
I never really understood the point of Silverlight. I know TSN streaming uses Silverlight and I agree with one of the above posts that if YouTube were to use Silverlight to produce instant streaming, then yes, MS has done a wonderful job. However, I really don't know any sites that use Silverlight.

Just because SL is relatively new you can't say you dont understand the point of it. Its like saying: "I dont understand the point of linux when windows dominates the market".

SL is VASTLY superior to flash in every conceivable way. I challenge anyone to tell me ONE thing that flash does better than SL.

Harbinger said,
I challenge anyone to tell me ONE thing that flash does better than SL.

Easy - elearning. I develop training simulations for technical auto repairs. Silverlight is a total joke in that area, they have no animation IDE's that allow you to do that to the level of the flash IDE (blend is really an interface ide). Flash is a vastly superior platform end to end elearning content development. It's way better in a workflow of animator-ui designer-developer. MS just does not bother with the animator part.

There's your one!

The Beijing Olympics were webcast with Silverlight, as well as MJ's memorial service. Those were pretty big.

eestes said,
Easy - elearning. I develop training simulations for technical auto repairs. Silverlight is a total joke in that area, they have no animation IDE's that allow you to do that to the level of the flash IDE (blend is really an interface ide). Flash is a vastly superior platform end to end elearning content development. It's way better in a workflow of animator-ui designer-developer. MS just does not bother with the animator part.

There's your one!


Blend does have a animation IDE the "Animation Workplace" with a timline and setting keyframes.

GPU Acceleration, nice. Silverlight is getting ahead of Flash now. Flash video e.g. YouTube are quite the hog using only CPU resources when it comes to using low-spec devices.

I haven't tried this, but the improvements in video sound good. My only gripe is if this starts overtaking flash, it will be years (forever?) before linux gets a native plugin (don't tell me about that moonlight piece of junk), and for me that's a bad thing.

I'm not usually a fan of browser plugins of any sort, but Silverlight does offer some advantages, especially over Flash. At least in the short term (until HTML 5 becomes more widely supported), I hope Silverlight really does overtake Flash.

I just hope it doesn't get abused for gimmicky animations on pages where there really doesn't need to be any. "With great power comes great responsibility".

I just hope it doesn't get abused for gimmicky animations on pages where there really doesn't need to be any.

It already is. Just yesterday, I saw a MS page using Silverlight for what could be achieved with even CSS and Javascript. :S

Some sliding pictures and fading text as you hovered on things, and that was all.

MS doesnt have plans for a 64bit version yet, so keep dreaming of a 64bit firefox and 64bit IE, oh wait there is a 64bit IE but it seems they would rather pretend that didnt exist.

That video demo was incredible. I didn't have to wait for it to buffer and there wasn't any stuttering at all, even in full screen. I can't get the HD youtube videos to do that. I'd be all for a Silverlight version of Youtube.

Sweet!!

I too with for quick and painful death of Flash... but it will not go that fast...

Flash causes more crashes in IE than you can shake your stick at.

Not bad. The video was smooth on my connection. I would still like an option to set it to a higher quality and pause the video to let the buffer fill up a bit just like Hulu does with their videos but this is great what Silverlight 3 has done. The 2008 Olympics broadcast in silverlight was great.

... I would still like an option to set it to a higher quality...

That kinda depends on the quality of the source file, and the limits placed on the serving web server though. I'm betting Silverlight is capable of going higher than was shown in the demo.

Omen1393 said,
Wow
http://www.yazilimevi.biz/

Basically this person created an OS out of silverlight. It's a little glitchy but it works. It just shows the potential of silverlight which is huge.

Do you realize how many AJAX web OSes and "cloud computing" front ends already exist? Yeah, it's nice that Silverlight is able to do the same thing three years later. Is it easier to work with? Any advantages over using AJAX?

Why wouldn't it be easier to work with vs AJAX which is basically a mix of different things together that you have to work with while Silverlight is Silverlight, just one thing. If you know any .NET and C# then you can work with Silverlight easy.

Some minor bugs running under Chrome 3.0.187.1 (also present with Silverlight 2). And not even recognized by Firefox 3.5.

artfuldodga said,
then your **** is broke, fix it and get back to us, installed fine under FF 3.5 here

Aye, fine on Fx3.5 here.

Memnochxx said,
Nevermind then, I was only checking www.xbox.com as a reference. Does silverlight work there for you guys?

Where, exactly? The intro section is Flash...

works fine here, project natal in silverlight... FF3.5
and what the f*ck? its a wonder it ain't working under firefox, you MAY want to unblock the domain for use with silverlight....
you sir, fail

Impressive. Silverlight has been nothing but good when I go to sites that use it. Few and far between though but video playback is much better than flash from what I've noticed.

wot bout expression studio 3? i cant wait any longer.

and cant seem to install silverlight 3. keep geetin installation failed

Soldiers33 said,
wot bout expression studio 3? i cant wait any longer.

and cant seem to install silverlight 3. keep geetin installation failed

That's because you have installed the Silverlight Developer Components (Silverlight SDK etc.) on your machine, they will probably release that version later today or tomorrow.

aludanyi said,


That's because you have installed the Silverlight Developer Components (Silverlight SDK etc.) on your machine, they will probably release that version later today or tomorrow.


ok thx for the info

Now if only YouTube would use Silverlight instead of Flash. Smooth streaming worked perfectly for me. No stuttering. No waiting. It just worked. Something Flash still can't seem to do right.

xiphi said,
Now if only YouTube would use Silverlight instead of Flash. Smooth streaming worked perfectly for me. No stuttering. No waiting. It just worked. Something Flash still can't seem to do right.

they shud have a test site using silverlight and see how it goes. id be more than happy to switch to silverlight

I doubt youtube would switch, they'd probably go over to HTML5 for video instead of using Silverlight. You know, that whole MS vs Google thing.

TCLN Ryster said,
I thought the W3C just decided to drop all video and audio codecs from the HTML5 spec?



They just dropped the use of any specific codec so you can use whatever you feel like. Which I feel is a bad idea, some like it that way though.

I'm kind of glad they did. Annoying in a lot of ways, but theora/vorbis are not good codecs. Not yet anyway. Their efficiency is completely lacking. Windows Media codecs are still some of the best available, amazingly scalable.

I create content almost entirely on the Mac, so H.264 etc are the default I work in, but you can't knock the codecs available to WMV containers.

Septimus said,
I'm kind of glad they did. Annoying in a lot of ways, but theora/vorbis are not good codecs. Not yet anyway. Their efficiency is completely lacking. Windows Media codecs are still some of the best available, amazingly scalable.

I create content almost entirely on the Mac, so H.264 etc are the default I work in, but you can't knock the codecs available to WMV containers.


I don't know any codecs really, I look at it from a different angle. I'd much rather see specific settings set for SD and HD videos in the spec so you know that whatever browser and or whatever codec you get the same res and the same bitrate and so on. Be it WMV or h264 or Xvid etc.

Last thing I wanna see is people going with whatever funky encodes they come up with that might or might not play well in a browser etc.


xiphi said,
Now if only YouTube would use Silverlight instead of Flash. Smooth streaming worked perfectly for me. No stuttering. No waiting. It just worked. Something Flash still can't seem to do right.

So Silverlight solves Google's bandwidth problems?

Well, I dunno about making them on OSX but silverlight works for Safari last I checked. As for the dev tools like Expression blend etc, you'd have to check the MS website.

I understand it's posible to play Silverlight content on Mac OS X using the browser plugin. I'm talking about the creation of Silverlight content on Mac OS X.

Silverlight developers using a Mac for development, are running MS Expression Blend in a VM (ex. Parallels Desktop for Mac).

Yes, I think MS isn't providing native development tools for either Linux or Mac, unfortunately. So you'll at the very least need a full Windows OS license for it. :S An obstacle, indeed.

Why not install the newest plugin? Loads of SL3 content will be coming, even if you can't run the creation apps nativly on OSX etc, you can still view the content out there.

And I don't think using a VM to run expression blend is all that big of a deal at this point. Who knows in the future they could make OSX versions of the tools, but first things first, you have to get it going on your own platform as well.

Kirkburn said,
Er, why? As a matter of principle, or... ?

Partially because I don't feel like supporting Microsoft in their quest to push a new standard that makes me dependent on Windows if I were to develop something for it. More importantly, I haven't come across any websites on a daily basis that actually use it. Beyond microsoft.com that is. :P

.Neo said,
Is it posible to create Silverlight movies and such on Mac OS X?


sure it is, microsoft doesn't offer an ide for mac, but strictly speaking you can always edit the xaml/c# files yourselves without expression blend/visual studio.

Also novell makes a c# ide that can compile your .net projects on either linux or mac or windows

.Neo said,
Partially because I don't feel like supporting Microsoft in their quest to push a new standard that makes me dependent on Windows if I were to develop something for it. More importantly, I haven't come across any websites on a daily basis that actually use it. Beyond microsoft.com that is. :P

You'd rather there was only Flash?

Nope, of course not. But Adobe does make sure you have full access to Flash creation tools on both Mac OS X and Windows.

Well, I'm not going to argue for arguement sake. I do think Microsoft is correct on focusing its efforts initially on advancing the core technology behind Silverlight rather than cross-platform development tools.

.Neo said,
Partially because I don't feel like supporting Microsoft in their quest to push a new standard that makes me dependent on Windows if I were to develop something for it. More importantly, I haven't come across any websites on a daily basis that actually use it. Beyond microsoft.com that is. :P

Any self-respecting developer first trials something out and then accepts/dismiss it. Apparently you just fast forwarded the whole process. I feel bad for you because SL is about x100 better than Flash. Or maybe x101, dunno :P

The problem is really so simple that I don't really understand why it's questioned.

To develop on OS X, you need two things -- a license for a virtualization software ($$), and a license for Windows XP or whatever ($$$), either that or set up Boot C... Well, you see where this is going. Lots and lots of effort to support a niche plugin.

The option being the officially unsupported aformentioned Eclipse variant.

I don't think it's naive to dismiss something based on this. It's really not as suitable for OS X development as Flash. Good native development tools would perhaps not be essential if Silverlight was alone in the market, but it has competition here, competition that dominates the market.

That would make sense if he didn't want to download the development tools and go through the trouble of getting Windows on a Mac (which is, honestly, not that hard).

No, he just doesn't want to install the plugin at all, out of principle. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense TBH.

You can't develop iPhone apps on the PC either. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. At least there are methods to developing Silverlight projects on other operating systems.

.Neo said,
Partially because I don't feel like supporting Microsoft in their quest to push a new standard that makes me dependent on Windows if I were to develop something for it. More importantly, I haven't come across any websites on a daily basis that actually use it. Beyond microsoft.com that is. :P


You might not be able to do it on OS X using Microsofts tools, but Check out Mono, and MonoDevelop might be able to do it

Everybody already has Flash though, not everyone has Silverlight. I couldn't create sites using Silverlight at work, my boss would freak on me. I gotta stick to whatever is popular. I dunno if Microsoft will ever win over Flash, both are losing out imo.

Xero said,
Everybody already has Flash though, not everyone has Silverlight. I couldn't create sites using Silverlight at work, my boss would freak on me. I gotta stick to whatever is popular. I dunno if Microsoft will ever win over Flash, both are losing out imo.

Your boss should learn to adapt to whats best for his (potential) customers.

And so what if they do? It's a browser plugin and your customers and clients will click to install Silverlight when prompted just as they did and still do with Flash.

There are certain things that HTML and CSS simply can't do, and that's where Flash and Silverlight can step in. What I DO NOT like is the exclusive use of Flash for video with no fallback on devices that don't support that resource hogging API suite such as mobile phones and other embedded devices.

Unplugged said,
And so what if they do? It's a browser plugin and your customers and clients will click to install Silverlight when prompted just as they did and still do with Flash.

I think I value actual metrics and usage statistics to your totally unfounded claims. The fact is, and it's proven time and again, that unless you have 0 competitors even a slow load time will probably cost you a visit.

gr8 one MS. now waiting for win7 next week. It would be great to have Silverlight 3 preinstalled with IE8 for Win7.

They probably won't be able to pre-install SL3 with Windows 7. However, certain aspects of Windows Live do use SL for enhanced capabilities. So I can see them, without legal hassles, making SL part of the installation package. It may already be, I don't recall.

JohnCz said,
They probably won't be able to pre-install SL3 with Windows 7. However, certain aspects of Windows Live do use SL for enhanced capabilities. So I can see them, without legal hassles, making SL part of the installation package. It may already be, I don't recall.

Just now I saw my updates included Windows Live add-ons, which installs Silverlight with it.

Doesn't Windows already come with Flash? (The demo in XP used Flash, so out of the box it had to include the IE plugin, fairly sure Vista is the same, just without the crappy demo)

Awesome news...much faster release schedule than I would have thought. I think this bodes well for Office Web Apps and Live Mesh App Store being delivered (at least in beta form) in the near future. As for marketshare, I think it is doing decently..they are having a easier time of it compared to say, search. Silverlight "Enhanced" versions of Office Web Apps will certainly grow "consumer" marketshare. Live Mesh Apps could help grow "developer/partner" marketshare. In any case, the future looks bright for Silverlight.

As long as MS moves fast they have a chance to do a lot in the area. I just hope they can get WinMo moving quicker as well.

I couldn't agree more. I sort of wish they standarized around the Windows 7 kernel. I think they are going to need to something along these lines eventually.

Seeing as how they delayed WinMo7 and released 6.5 outta nowhere as more of a stop-gap I think they'll be doing lots of core changes and even more UI changes for 7. Just needed more time.

GP007 said,
Seeing as how they delayed WinMo7 and released 6.5 outta nowhere as more of a stop-gap I think they'll be doing lots of core changes and even more UI changes for 7. Just needed more time.


Actually Windows Mobile 7 is expected to RTM October, and be on phones next year, so not much longer to wait

That's kinda quick, I don't think 6.5 has RTM'd yet? No devices have it yet, or showing it off even if they're not going to be out for a few months.

Me too, the quality of that demo video on the iis.net site is absolutely awesome... looks lovely at full screen (1440x900) and the fact it streams almost instantly is astounding. Good work MS!

Something up with your installs then. Fx3.5, IE8, Chrome, Opera, all 25FPS constant.

On OSX - Safari, Fx3.5 - 24fps constant. Opera splutters for a little bit then settles at 24.

Plenty of bandwidth so that never changed.

excalpius said,
Now this is funny.

Using http://www.iis.net/media/experiencesmoothstreaming

Under Vista 64...the cleanest, smoothest, fastest playing browser was...

Google Chrome

Opera was jerky
IE8-32 couldn't keep the data stream maxxed
Firefox 3.5 was jerky and had the slowest frame rate

At least it's Apples to Apples. 8)


i just played it in FF 3.5 w/o a hitch. using vista 64-bit too.

Considering the plugin handles rendering the video and the browser has nothing to do with it, it's not surprising that it plays fine in different browsers.

What will effect it is you doing stuff in the background (When I was playing it, an app popped up an UAC dialog, it cut the stream quality down due to the sudden CPU usage)