Press Releases and news have already hit the wires that Microsoft is planning to releases its new browser plugin – Silverlight; in direct challenge to the widely used browser plugin – Flash.
Microsoft said that it will target three core audiences with Silverlight – (i) content providers that want to distribute video and rich media over the web, (ii) designers and developers that are building rich interactive applications and (iii) end users that want the best possible experience when viewing web-based media. Well, that encompasses almost everybody on the Internet and that is exactly what Flash does right now.
Silverlight is compatible with a range of browsers – Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. Silverlight delivers a similar user experience on both IE 7 running on Windows Vista and Firefox running on an Apple Macintosh computer. In fact, a big benefit of the technology for end users is that they will not have to download different video player technology to view online media based on what OS they are running. Nonetheless, it may be noted that the Flash Player footprint is extremely small and user can still enjoy all that Silverlight will offer. There are no confirmation on the download size of the Silverlight yet. It may be a dramatic change to the online video market if Silverlight supports direct streaming from Media Player Servers and play WMV files without having to adorn a chrome over the video.
Microsoft would have their own plans to push the plugin to all Internet Explorer users and might even give precedence over the Flash Player in IE. Their marketing treasury is also good enough to do a stint big enough to draw enough market share. It may be noted that while the Flash Player was still with Macromedia, Macromedia did not spend as much on its whole product as much as Microsoft spend on advertising their products. Adobe is now big, however Microsoft still has the higher financial quotient to push their wares towards the masses in an unprecedented way. The only fallout may be of another lawsuit which Microsoft can live it.
Microsoft is expected to open a beta for Silverlight at its MIX 2007 around the end of April, 2007. They will announce plans for general availability at that time. Silverlight plugins can be downloaded for both Windows and Mac version. They even have some matching wallpapers for the Silverlight theme. The download URL comes complete with SDKs for Silverlight. You can also subscribe to their blog if you wish to keep up with the happening with Silverlight.