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Microsoft launches Silverlight (formerly WPF/E) to compete with Flash

In hopes to make a dent in the market dominance of Adobe’s Flash, Microsoft unveiled at the 2007 National Association of Broadcasters conference a new cross-browser, cross-platform browser plug-in called Silverlight.

Previously called Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E), Silverlight works with on both Macintosh and Windows with a variety of browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.  Based on the Microsoft .NET Framework, Silverlight enables developers and designers to use existing skills and tools: for designers, Microsoft Expression Studio, and for developers, Visual Studio.

Silverlight uses Windows Media Video (WMV) and Microsoft’s implementation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) VC-1 video standard to deliver video files can that scale from mobile devices to full-screen high-definition displays.

One such interested party in Microsoft’s internet video solution may be Netflix, which announced its on-demand video service earlier this year. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings joined Microsoft’s board of directors just last month.

“Netflix needs rapid and reliable scalability so all members can enjoy DVD-quality movies immediately on our instant-viewing feature,” said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. “We depend on Microsoft Windows Media technologies, and we’re excited about Microsoft Silverlight as a platform to enable instant watching of great content for all our members, on multiple platforms.”

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What about Linux ?
By LogicallyGenius on 4/18/2007 7:14:20 AM , Rating: 2
Seems like MS dont want Linux,

If thats the case then Flash wins.

RE: What about Linux ?
By Niv KA on 4/18/2007 7:21:58 AM , Rating: 2
Thats what I was about to post... No Linux, and it's not really more competition like we want.

In a way, the lack of Linux support in products with Mac support could be because Microsoft is scared of competition from Linux more than it is scared of Apple. Anyone else come to this conclusion ?... or do you think its just that there aren't enough Linux users to support?... (We are about 30 million people, according to Novell, so we are a big group...)

RE: What about Linux ?
By Niv KA on 4/18/2007 7:26:32 AM , Rating: 2
And by the way, although I do dislike Microsoft I am not a "M$ sucks" kind of Microsoft hater...

PS: I remember reading somewhere that there is an OSS alternative being developed, but I don't remember for sure...

- Niv K Aharonovich
Computer Obsessed and Proud

RE: What about Linux ?
By phatboye on 4/18/2007 9:14:07 AM , Rating: 2
It's not like Macromedia/Adobe has had a good record with bringing a flash player to *nix boxes. How many years did it take for them to update flash to version 9 for *nix. Not to mention that there still isn't a 64-bit version at all for windows or linux (at least I have not seen it yet).

Quite frankly I'm glad neither company cares about the linux crowd. There is nothing more annoying than flash ads and pop-ups. And thankfully since I am running a 64-bit version of linux I won't have to be bothered with those for a long time.

RE: What about Linux ?
By Hare on 4/18/2007 8:55:15 AM , Rating: 4
In a way, the lack of Linux support in products with Mac support could be because Microsoft is scared of competition from Linux more than it is scared of Apple.

I really doubt that. The truth is that desktop linux users are a small group and when new technology is introduced it's pretty obvious that you want to concentrate on market share instead of pleasing every small group. I would personally like to see a linux version.

RE: What about Linux ?
By chalkbolg on 4/18/2007 9:06:34 AM , Rating: 2
Assuming Linux desktop is a determining factor assumes the desktop OS is what will drive adoption. This technology as well as flash depends on server side technologies in most cases. MS has build this on .Net technology and 70%+ of all Web and Application servers are Linux. Does anyone seriously believe that Google or Amazon is going to migrate their server s to Windows to support this?

The development community will determine adoption rates on this technology and there is nothing in this that goes beyond current capabilities. Developers will use what they know unless it offers new capabilities.

RE: What about Linux ?
By Spivonious on 4/18/2007 1:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
Unless I'm mistaken, isn't this a client-side item? That way it wouldn't matter what the server was running.

RE: What about Linux ?
By Sunday Ironfoot on 4/18/2007 4:22:09 PM , Rating: 2
No you are not mistaken. Silverlight is a client-side technology, you can run anything on the server you want.

RE: What about Linux ?
By mforce on 4/18/2007 12:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't think Linux desktops are a that small group and although it's not growing fast the Linux market share is growing. Sure it's mostly used by pros and you'll see mare Macs in the US for instance but Linux is here to stay.
MS can afford to ignore it for now but they do know it's out there. Apple is easier to deal with and it's something they can always hunt down and destroy. For now MS is satisfied to sell their products for OS X and make some more $. Linux is more dangerous on the other hand, and Linux users tend to like open source and free products more than commercial software.
To be honest though Linux isn't that easy to support because it comes with a couple of hundred of distros.
Microsoft, just make an open source version that can be ported to Linux or at least release the full specs and you'll have my respect.

RE: What about Linux ?
By aftlizard01 on 4/18/2007 4:33:54 PM , Rating: 2
Linux will explode in usage with the übercheap laptops for the third world program. When those little kids using linux grow up they aren't going to jump to the MS they will most likely stick with what they know.

Then again I grew up indoctrinated in the world of Apple at school, and now I prefer pc's so my opinion is probably squat.

RE: What about Linux ?
By Sunday Ironfoot on 4/18/2007 4:23:44 PM , Rating: 2
MS have said previously that there will be a Linux version just that they won't be the one's making it. Instead they will contract out third parties to implement it. Similar to what they did with .NET (eg. Mono on Linux).

RE: What about Linux ?
By Byte on 4/19/2007 1:02:19 AM , Rating: 2
Silverlight really has potential. It can scale to gigapixels without choking at all. Unlike flash which starts dying anything VGA+ resolution.

Competition is good
By i4mt3hwin on 4/18/2007 6:33:46 AM , Rating: 1
I think it's good for every company to have competition but honestly adobe/macromedia has been doing a good job at being the only company designing this technology.

RE: Competition is good
By TomZ on 4/18/2007 8:26:43 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree - I think that innovation and the pace of development with Flash has been practically zero for quite some time now. The authoring tools are also only so-so and should be developed further. I hope that this annoncement spurs some more investment in Flash.

RE: Competition is good
By adt6247 on 4/18/2007 4:57:25 PM , Rating: 3
You're obviously not a Flash developer...

The Flash 9 player was a humungous improvement in terms of performance and features. They also released Adobe Flex 2 -- a developer-centric flash platform built for rapidly developed web aps. ActionScript 3 is an implementation of ECMAScript 4, and is really, really powerful.

Before that, Flash 7 brought quite a bit to the table. Flash 8 wasn't anything too special. Flash CS3 (Flash 9), based on the betas, is going to be fantastic. The Photoshop/Illustrator integration alone will save me hours per week.

By UNCjigga on 4/18/2007 10:57:59 AM , Rating: 4
One of my biggest beefs with Flash-based video is how crappy it looks compared to any hardware-assisted or hardware-accelerated video on DirectShow. I don't think modern GPUs support Flash in the same way as VC-1, h.264 or MPEG2. You can see this whenever you try to scale a Flash video to full-screen--you don't have the hardware scalers, deinterlacers, filters etc.

If Microsoft's solution can provide the same low-latency playback while supporting modern GPUs then I think they'll get good penetration on the video side of things. I doubt they'll do so well on the animation side--Flash owns that. Not sure about 3D though.

By adt6247 on 4/18/2007 5:07:25 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with you on the hardware-accellerated bit. I've talked to various high-level techs at Adobe/Macromedia, and they seem to think of hardware-accellerated 3D as a new-fangled thing that has low market penetration. I've tried to explain to them that even the lowest end systems with crappy Intel embedded graphics have on-board OpenGL accelleration, but they don't seem to grok the concept. Hopefully, the competition from MS will light a fire under their respective buttocks...

Flash isnt good for websites anyway.
By Mitch101 on 4/18/2007 9:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
Flash isnt good for websites anyway as most search engines dont recognize it. While its pretty it wont get you any more traffic than a ugly site without flash. In fact the ugly site might get a higher ranking.

Good for advertising banners though and you know we all need more advertising on a site.

By adt6247 on 4/18/2007 5:04:28 PM , Rating: 3
Flash completely sucks for general web pages, not just because of lack of searchability, but also because it lacks the ability for deep linking and the like. Even flash-based navigation is kinda lame, as you can do most of what you'd what to with DHTML and JavaScript nowadays...

However, it's fantastic for components used on websites (YouTube, etc. comes to mind), specialized tools (Yahoo Maps), and certain applications. The biggest advantage of Flash vs. Java and other such things is that Flash player is everywhere! Over 96% of browsers have Flash player 8 or 9 installed.

I worked for a company that did Flash-based educational sessions, surveys, and whitepaper briefing tools. It works fantastic for them, as it's lightweight, cross-platform, and easy to deliver over a network, and really quick and easy to develop for. As much as I hate wrestling with its quirks, compiler bugs, etc., it's a really useful tool for a lot of jobs.

Who comes up with these names?
By Iroh on 4/18/2007 8:29:30 AM , Rating: 2
Silverlight ... is it supposed to make people think of a "Flash" of light?

Additionally, (IMO) a one or two syllable name would have been better too.

Maybe I am alone in these thoughts.

RE: Who comes up with these names?
By 16nm on 4/18/2007 12:21:25 PM , Rating: 2
Additionally, (IMO) a one or two syllable name would have been better too.

No, you're dead-on with that comment. Even Silver would have been better than Silverlight. Or some acronym would have gone over well. WPFE is not too bad. "Wupfy"

I wonder how much MS paid the person(s) who came up with silverlight.

as to the name
By wetwareinterface on 4/18/2007 5:34:26 PM , Rating: 4
the name silverlight is to remind you of a movie experience a.k.a. the silver screen and the light beam dust reflections overhead from the projector the "silverlight"

it's basically a bundled remarketing of .net and vc-1 wmv movies with support now for macs. which all in all isn't so bad as now any .net developer can target the mac as well in online apps.

as to linux, no the market isn't 30 million desktops. it's 30 million installs 98% + of which are server installs. the linux desktop market is hovering around 1% of market share. the mac desktop market share bounces from 3%-5% depending on which survey you look at. the server market share is a lot higher, and that is more of what microsoft is concerned about than the desktop space as far as linux goes competition wise. linux is really viable in the server market and nil in the desktop market. wine and cedega don't emulate well enough for any modern game to be playable, and older ones are still spotty at best. apps wise you have a couple of good graphics editors and 2 flavors of suns office suite the payware and open source version that compete in office productivity. specialized video editing without buying a unix originated hardware/software solution is a joke. 3d modeling is okay but the windows variants are easier and more feature complete as the unix originated versions aren't being developed much at all anymore or are but by hobbyist/open source projects which don't receive the same focus as their paying day jobs working for the big corps making maya and 3dstudio etc...

linux can be used as a desktop replacement don't get me wrong. but it is more like the vista basic vs vista ultimate confusion. it works and has 3d elements on the desktop and you can fire up a graphic editor and office package but come game time your hosed. for me personally I do music as a hobby and the availability of compelling music software on linux is nada. there are a few brave attempts but compared to windows or even a mac there is nothing that comes close. and that is what most people see when looking at linux for the desktop. "what i can't run battlefield 2142 except as a bot match? and at 1/3 the frame rate as windows?"

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