Microsoft Unveils Silverlight for Web Media
LAS VEGAS — At the 2007 National Association of Broadcasters conference (NAB2007), Microsoft Corp. unveiled Microsoft® Silverlight™, a new cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering the next generation of media experiences and rich interactive 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.
Microsoft Silverlight, previously called Windows® Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E), integrates with existing Web technologies and assets to provide higher-quality experiences with lower costs for media delivery. Delivered to end users through a seamless, fast installation, Silverlight offers consistent experiences to both Macintosh and Windows users on a variety of browsers including Internet Explorer®, Firefox and Safari.
“Content providers are seeking a way to deliver rich interactive applications using the tools and skills they already have. They want an end-to-end solution that enables them to rapidly reach multiple platforms with reasonable deployment costs,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. “Microsoft Silverlight delivers on this need and marks a real step forward for the industry. Silverlight is the only solution in the market today that enables content creators to tap into the broad ecosystem for Windows Media® technologies while taking the Web’s rich interactive application experience to new levels.”
Leading media companies and solution providers have announced support for Silverlight including Akamai Technologies, Brightcove, Eyeblaster, Limelight Networks, Major League Baseball, NaviSite Inc., Netflix, Pinnacle Systems Inc., Rhozet Corp., Skinkers, Sonic Solutions, Tarari Inc., Telestream Inc. and Winnov. All have indicated plans to deliver Silverlight-based experiences for their viewers and customers.
“We’ve consistently heard from the media companies that they want the ability to easily implement key technologies for Internet video and rich broadband experiences,” said Bob Mason, chief technology officer at Brightcove. “With the release of Silverlight, Microsoft is bringing rich interactive experiences coupled with the VC-1 video standard into the browser, and we’re excited to announce plans to support this technology and continue to give our customers access to the cutting-edge technologies that will drive the growth of Internet TV.”
Silverlight Scales From HD to Mobile, With Peace of Mind for Content Owners
Silverlight uses Windows Media Video (WMV), Microsoft’s implementation of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) VC-1 video standard, enabling immediate compatibility with the millions of hours of content already available on the Web, and adds support for interactive video experiences that scale from full-screen high-definition (HD) to mobile scenarios.
“Netflix is leading the way for people to rent movies for instant viewing over the Internet,” said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. “With 6.3 million members now and millions more in the next few years, Netflix needs rapid and reliable scalability so all members can enjoy DVD-quality movies immediately on our instant-viewing feature. 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.”
Silverlight customers will also enjoy compatibility with the broad ecosystem of Windows Media-enabled tools and solutions, and the proven scalability and reliability of the Emmy Award-winning Windows Media technologies. At the discretion of content providers, Silverlight will also deliver digital rights management support built on the recently announced Microsoft PlayReady™ content access technology — with feature parity on Windows and Mac.
Microsoft Expands Reach of .NET Framework
Based on the Microsoft .NET Framework, Silverlight enables developers and designers to easily use existing skills and tools to deliver media experiences and RIAs for the Web with role-specific tools: for designers, Microsoft Expression® Studio, and for developers, Visual Studio®. New tool and server investments for media professionals include the following:
•Expression Media Encoder. Microsoft Expression Media Encoder, which will be a feature of Microsoft Expression Media, enables rapid import, compression and Web publishing of digital video imported from a variety of popular formats, including AVI and QuickTime, into WMV. Capable of running on the desktop or Windows Server®, Expression Media Encoder is a template-driven system that integrates seamlessly into existing Web publishing workflows for both live and on-demand content delivery. Expression Media Encoder will be a free download for customers of Expression Media when it is shipped later this year.
•Hardware-accelerated video publishing. When paired with a Tarari Encoder Accelerator, Expression Media Encoder reduces encode times by up to 15 times over software alone, a significant capabilities and cost advantage for publishing Web video today.
•Even greater scalability with Windows Server, code-named “Longhorn.” Building on the industry-leading streaming and Web server platform, Windows Server “Longhorn” will enable customers to experience up to twice the scalability on the same hardware when compared with Windows Server 2003. Also being announced today is the Internet Information Services 7 (IIS7) Media Pack, which adds new cost-saving features such as bit-rate throttling and other advanced features designed to help further reduce the cost of media distribution. The IIS7 Media Pack will be a free download for customers of Windows Server “Longhorn” when it ships.
Microsoft Silverlight, Expression Media Encoder and Tarari Encoder Accelerator will be shown in Microsoft Booth SL3213, in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Microsoft’s broader development platform and additional details about Silverlight will be shared in the keynote presentation at Microsoft’s upcoming Mix07 conference, April 30 in Las Vegas. Microsoft will also release the beta for Silverlight during the Mix07 conference. More information about the Mix07 event can be found at http://www.mix07.com.