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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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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...


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