Microsoft is releasing its Silverlight 1.0 plug-in for video on the Web Wednesday and also will participate in
Novell’s porting of Silverlight to Linux via the Moonlight project.
Silverlight represents Microsoft’s efforts to present multimedia experiences on the Web, offering enhanced audio and video streaming and playback using
Windows Media Technologies. The technology aims squarely at rival
Adobe Systems and its ubiquitous Flash Player for multimedia on the Web.
“We’re finally shipping the plug-in,” said
Parimal Desphande, group product manager for the User Experience Platform and Tools team at Microsoft
The 1.0 version of Silverlight, which is being released to the Web, is geared to providing video. Accessible
at the Silverlight Web page, it has been available in a beta release. A more potent successor, Silverlight 1.1, will provide for more interactive content, including support for .Net development and transactional capabilities. It remains only available in an early alpha release format.
While Silverlight currently works with Windows and
Macintosh, Microsoft is endorsing Novell’s plan to make Silverlight run on Linux clients via the Moonlight project.
Moonlight 1.0 is expected to be done within six months, said
Miguel de Icaza, vice president for the developer platform at Novell, who has been overseeing Moonlight.
“We will be distributing Moonlight for all the major distributions and provide both packages in RPM and DEB [distribution] forms as well as having a Mozilla-based installer for those not familiar with the packaging system in Linux,” de Icaza said.
Microsoft cites several differentiators between Silverlight and Flash. Silverlight, Deshpande said, offers high-definition video at a lower cost and functions with Microsoft’s developer tools. The company also is offering a SaaS-based component, Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live.
“[For] customers who want to use our service for streaming video content, we have that as well,” Deshpande said.
He touted a list of supporters of Silverlight, including
World Wrestling Entertainment;
Break.com, which shows videos; and the
Home Shopping Network.
The ability to use Microsoft tools with Silverlight provides an advantage, said
Ross Angert, creative director for interactive media at World Wrestling Entertainment.
“It’s the advantages from a development side that Silverlight offers us,” in terms of streaming video costs and displaying multiple video streams, he said.
“Flash certainly is a great tool, and we have some Flash product on our site, but I think overall as a company to partner with, Microsoft is going to be a great partner going forward,” Angert said. WWE plans to use Silverlight for wrestling videos and broadband content. Current systems will be kept in place without much change, Angert said.
“[Silverlight] will give users access to our entire library of videos,” said Angert.
Developers can use Microsoft’s Visual Studio and Expression tools to develop applications for Silverlight. The company is releasing Expression Encoder 1.0, formerly Expression Media Encoder, a tool for encoding and publishing rich media content to Silverlight, on Wednesday.
Microsoft also is announcing its Silverlight Partner Initiative on Wednesday, in which more than 35 companies have agreed to support Silverlight. Among the participants are
Akamai Technologies, IdentityMine,
Electric Rain, and TwoFour Digital.