Sunday, April 15, 2007

Microsoft Unveils Silverlight -- a Competitor to Adobe Flash

Microsoft unveiled its "Silverlight" -- a new cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering video and rich interactive applications (RIAs) for the Web.

Microsoft Silverlight, previously called Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E), integrates with existing Web technologies and assets to deliver a consistent viewing experience to both Macintosh and Windows users on a variety of browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

Microsoft said Silverlight uses Windows Media Video (WMV), its implementation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) VC-1 video standard, and promises scalability from full-screen high-definition (HD) to mobile devices.

Silverlight is also based on the Microsoft .NET Framework. Microsoft is also providing new tool and server investments for media professionals, including 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.

  • 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.

  • Even greater scalability with Windows Server, code-named "Longhorn.", which Microsoft says will enable customers to experience up to twice the scalability on the same hardware when compared with Windows Server 2003.

  • Internet Information Services 7 (IIS7) Media Pack, which adds features such as bit-rate throttling. The IIS7 Media Pack will be a free download for customers of Windows Server "Longhorn" when it ships.

Microsoft cited a number of early supporters for Silverlight, including Akamai Technologies, Brightcove, Eyeblaster, Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball and Netflix.