Microsoft Once Again Puts the Spotlight on Silverlight

Microsoft held another dog-and-pony show Friday to tout its prized Silverlight rich media technology, which will take on Adobe's ubiquitous Flash Player for the hearts and minds of developers.

The company's ReMix07 event, held at company offices in Mountain View, Calif, was a slimmed-down replay of the larger Mix07 conference held in Las Vegas in April.

Featured were demonstrations of Silverlight benefits for Internet browsers, leveraged with Microsoft's Expression and the Visual Studio tools.

"The core [function] that Siliverlight delivers is rich media capabilities," including video and graphics, said Scott Guthrie, general manager of the developer division at Microsoft.

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Silverlight, which is still in a pre-release stage, is deployable on Windows and Macintosh via a lightweight download. Net and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) programming models can be used with it.

"Our goal is to have [Silverlight] run on as many systems as possible," Guthrie said. Microsoft wants to see it installed on hundreds of millions of clients.

Microsoft officials are bullish on Silverlight, viewing it as having higher quality than Adobe Flash and of great use to venture capital-funded companies looking to provide a differentiated Web experience.

"I think Silverlight gives you the richest possible way to watch video on the Web," said Dan'l Lewin, corporate vice president for strategic and emerging business development at Microsoft. "I think that's something that most people in the industry have acknowledged and are pretty excited about."

Flash, however, already is installed on more than 700 million Internet-connected desktops, Adobe said. Silverlight technologies currently accessible include the beta release of Silverlight 1.0, which is focused on adding media like graphics to existing Web sites. It is due to be generally available later this summer with a release candidate due soon, Guthrie said.

An alpha release of Silverlight 1.1 is also available, geared to rich Internet applications and leveraging .Net programming. Silverlight tools also are planned for the Visual Studio 2008 platform due later this year.

Silverlight will be supported on mobile devices and other OSes in the future, Guthrie said. A Linux client version is possible at some point, but Microsoft is focusing on Windows and Macintosh now because they have the largest installed base, Microsoft officials said.  

Featured during this morning's presentation was a demonstration of a Silverlight-based video-editing application developed by Metaliq. With this application, videos could be dragged and dropped onto a palette and edited together.

A ReMix attendee saw promise in Silverlight.

"It seems like Microsoft is doing what they usually do, [which is] coming out with a tool that really goes over the top and does as much as if not more than what the other competitors do," said Craig Benson, vice president of engineering at InnerAthlete, which is an online athletic training site. InnerAthlete could use Silverlight to show video demonstrations, Benson said. 

Also at ReMix, Guthrie stressed Windows Presentation Foundation. "It really enables you to build much richer desktop applications and push the boundaries of what the desktop can do," he said. He noted that another item on Microsoft's agenda is the planned Internet Information Services 7 with a rich hosting infrastructure. "This is a major update of our Web server stack," Guthrie said.

In a separate, Windows-related development this week, Microsoft offered a "Windows Vista Momentum pack to its OEM partners to promote deployments of Windows Vista. The pack features information on what Microsoft calls "the great momentum and readiness" in the market from the Vista ecosystem.

This story, "Microsoft Once Again Puts the Spotlight on Silverlight" was originally published by InfoWorld .

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