Microsoft today announced Silverlight, a new cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and Rich
Interactive Internet Applications (RIAs) for the Web.
Early supporters of the new platform include Akamai Technologies Inc., Brightcove Inc., Eyeblaster Inc., Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball and Netflix Inc.
The real story here is the total solution; Microsoft Expression tools for web designers, Visual Studio for web developers, and Silverlight for cross web browser and cross platform support. The combination of great tools for building applications and Silverlight for cross platform distribution creates real synergy for developers, web site owners, and users.
Richard MacManus points out that Silverlight directly competes with Adobe's Flash. Richard says "The world of RIAs is increasing in importance, as Internet users seek out better "experiences" - both in the browser and outside it, and both online and offline. While Google is happy to utilize Ajax in the browser as its RIA weapon of choice, Microsoft and Adobe are busy battling it out in the 'richer' products - which either extend the browser or utilize the desktop."
TechMeme has aggregated lots of news stories and blogs on the Silverlight announcement. Ryan Stewart at ZD/Net says "Silverlight finally gives Microsoft an easy web video solution. The Silverlight plugin runs on Mac and Windows, and supports all of the major browsers. It leverages the VC-1 codec which powers Windows Media and also has a fairly robust infrastructure that fits well into Microsoft's platform. For one thing, when you buy IIS, you have all the tools you need to encode and stream Windows Media Files. In addition, using VC-1 gets you a lot of third party tools. As an added bonus, its also supported by HD DVD and Blu-ray. The DRM capabilities of Windows Media are also a fairly well known commodity. "
Silverlight enhances the user experience. Expression Studio enhances the web designer's experience. There are four tools in the Expression family focused on web designers. The neat thing about all these tools is how they work together in a work-flow pattern, and share the same object structures so that objects can be copied to other tools like Visual Studio, Word, PowerPoint, etc.
- Expression Design is a professional illustration, painting, and graphic designer for creating WYSIWYG Web graphics.
- Expression Blend is a professional tool for creating rich user interfaces for Web and Client applications. It seamlessly integrates with the Graphic Designer and Visual Studio.
- Expression Web is a professional tool for creating sophisticated standards-based Web sites, using advanced CSS tools that create fully compliant XHTML code.
- Expression Media is a professional asset management tool to visually catalog and organize all your digital assets.
There are likely to be more announcements at MIX 07 in Las Vegas starting April 29th. The event is sold out. I will be there and will file a report here.