Microsoft: Silverlight More than a Flash

Thanks to Digix for his news submission to our front page.

Microsoft has christened its cross-platform, cross-browser plug-in for delivering the next generation of Internet user experiences and rich Internet applications; formerly known as WPF/E, Silverlight is what Microsoft is hoping will be the Adobe/Macromedia Flash killer. Forest Key, a director of product management in the Microsoft Server and Tools Division, said Silverlight offers consistent experiences to both Mac and Windows users on a variety of browsers, including Internet Explorer, FireFox and Safari. Key also noted that Linux support is under discussion: "We're looking at the desktops and browsers by volume. We want to put muscle behind supporting the bulk of the market."

Silverlight uses Windows Media Video, Microsoft's implementation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers VC-1 video standard – a standard also used for HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. It also supports interactive video experiences from full-screen high-definition graphics to mobile scenarios. Support for the VC-1 codec "means quite a number of surfaces support Silverlight, more than Flash," Key said, noting that Adobe's Flash has limited support for video. At the discretion of content providers, Silverlight will also deliver digital rights management support built on the Microsoft PlayReady content access technology.

Silverlight is based on the .Net Framework and enables developers and designers to use their existing skills to deliver media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web with role-specific tools: Expression Studio for designers and Visual Studio for developers. Several media companies and solution providers have announced support for Silverlight, along with the promise to deploy Silverlight-based experiences for their viewers and customers. These include Akamai, Brightcove, Eyeblaster, Limelight, Major League Baseball, Netflix, Skinkers, Sonic Solutions, SyncCast, Tarari and Telestream.

Download: HD Video | 41.0MB
Link: Microsoft Silverlight
News source: Physorg

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Interesting. For a while I wondered why noone had any real alternatives to both flash and pdf. Seems MS is addressing both along with its new image format. Seems there got a few formats up there sleeves as of late.

It may be "more than Flash", but I'm not sure how it's supposedly so much better that you'd be willing to swich to a brand new technology. WMV support is nice, but Flash also has powerful video encoding in low bitrates, and as for high bitrates and HD content, that's nice but only for very niched scenarios and hardly for common online use. No popular website will want to start serving clients 40 MB downloads like done above for demo purposes, unless they're paid for it.

I also don't see the deal about "cross platform & cross browser". Flash is too and works on more platforms, such as Linux. What gives?

There is one imporant platform Flash works on, x64. This is a major hindrance to the consumer adoption of full 64-bit Windows/Vista. x64 is much more stable and will allow the addressing of more than 3GB RAM.

Adobe won't or cannot produce a 64-bit flash player and their latest round of releases do not support x64. I'm sure that Silverlight will.

"As for which platform Silverlight will support next, Key said, "Linux is an open question. We're looking at the desktops and browsers by volume. We want to put muscle behind supporting the bulk of the market." And Linux support is still under discussion, he said."

So basically they are going to leave this open for discussion long enough to get web developers on board and then in the typical Microsoft business model, lock everyone else out after the fact. Flash at least has sub-par linux support but I doubt if Microsoft will even bother providing that much.

1) Flash=Adobe. Adobe=lawsuits
2) WPF is more sophisticated than flash. It's main field is not just animation.
And WPF/E is cross-platform WPF.

the HD 720p demo getting streamed off of the silverlight website is pretty impressive! Can't wait for when netflix starts using this with their WatchNow feature!