“Light up the web” or “Experience what you’re missing” are the slogans of this relatively new product from Microsoft.
Few days back, Microsoft released their flagship interactive media browser plugin – Silverlight. Microsoft Silverlight, previously called Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E) is a direct competitor to Adobe’s FlashPlayer. Pretty much like Flash, Silverlight is a complement and runtime for Internet Web browsers whereby users can view videos, vector graphics, text, 2D animations and render Rich Internet Applications (RIA). According to Microsoft it’s a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in capable of delivering the next generation media experiences.
Besides being a direct competitor to “Adobe Flash Player”, Silverlight competes with others applications such as the presentation complement of AJAX, The Sun Microsystems JavaFX (launched recently), and others. Silverlight will also provide DRM (Digital Rights Management) with feature parity with Windows and Mac according to the Microsoft’s press release.
Silverlight support compressed video format such as Windows Media Video (WMV), Windows Media Audio (WMA) and MP3 audio content working with all the compatible web browsers (Internet explorer 6 SP2, IE7, Firefox 1.5, Firefox 2.0, Safari) without requiring any media player such as Windows Media Player, Real Player or some browser plug-in.
The XML (Extensible Markup Language) play very well in this game as Silverlight makes it possible to load content dynamically using XML manipulated through a DOM (Document Object Model).
For Microsoft, Silverlight is compelling, flexible, efficient, connected and streaming. Some of the characteristics and features are;
- Compelling Cross-platform User Experiences: Deliver media experiences and rich interactive applications for the web, Seamless, fast installation for users, Consistent experiences between Windows-based and Macintosh computers, Create richer, more compelling Web experiences, Stunning vector-based graphics, media, text, animation, and overlays, Enhance existing standards/AJAX-based applications.
- Flexible Programming Model with Collaboration Tools: Based on the Microsoft .NET Framework, Simple integration with existing Web technologies and assets, Choice of development languages, Role-specific tools for both designers and developers, Consistent presentation model by using XAML, Extensible control model, Dramatically improved performance for AJAX–enabled Web sites.
- High Quality, Low Cost Media: Unified media format that scales from high definition (HD) to mobile, Add vector-based graphics and overlays to media, Flexible ad-insertion solutions with video and animation, Lower-cost media streaming with Emmy Award–winning Windows Media technologies, Broad ecosystem of media tools, servers, and solutions, Microsoft Play-Ready content-access technology, Powerful encoding tools for live and on-demand publishing of media experiences.
- Connected to Data, Servers, and Services: Easily mash-up and incorporate services and data, Increase discoverability, Rapidly scale applications with Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live.
- Steamming with Windows Live: Enable rapid application development, Create and deliver differentiated user experiences, Get global scale quickly and cost effectively.
FLASH vs. SILVERLIGHT
Well, Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash are overwhelmed in a great battle. Flash have the challenge to prove they are the leaders and continue being the leaders. Microsoft have the money, the marketing strategy and influence to make Silverlight a successful tool. Everybody is asking if Flash and Silverlight are similar; and effectively in general both tools have the same functionality or at least the goal.
Many veteran Flash experts are already speculating many questions.
Will Silverlight prove to be better or be able to come up to the level of the Flash Player?
What is the differences and similarities between them?
Let’s hear what Jesse Ezell says – Flash was created to develop animations based on frames, Silverlight is an efficient framework with good facilities for animations. So if you want to make animations Flash is a good option but if you want to develop interactive systems with animations Silverlight is better.
Here is my personal reply to Jesse Ezell.
Your statement is true for Flash 4. Please upgrade your statement, Adobe Flash is currently 5 versions ahead of your statement.
This makes me feel like we are bringing back the Neanderthal man (by some means) to this modern world and discussing how they made fire, shelters to live, etc. In any case, if that was possible, the Neanderthal man will look around our houses, electricity, automobiles and they’ll be shocked and may even go wild, crazy after seeing e development that we have today. Jesse Ezell, please come to the modern world of Flash Player 9 (or at least 7).
Disclaimer: I take NO responsibility if he gets a shock and goes wild, crazy.
Now, let’s enjoy what Ted Patrick has to say about Silverlight.
“The goal of Silverlight is to get into the game, not to add anything new of value. If you look at the feature set on a pure technology basis, Silverlight has 80% less features and 98% less compatibility than Adobe Flash Player.”
The Microsoft Corporation has started an partner initiative which give a great variety of benefits for companies, solution providers, content delivery networks and interactive agencies. Some of the partners of Silverlight are Pinnacle Systems (leader in consuming video editing application), Cynergy, VeriSign, Level 3 Communications and much others.
SILVERLIGHT TOOLS and RESOURCES
- Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 Software Development Kit: Download this software development kit (SDK) to create Silverlight 1.0 Web experiences. The SDK contains documentation and samples, along with templates for Microsoft Visual Studio.
- Microsoft Silverlight 1.1 Software Development Kit Alpha September Refresh: Download this SDK to create Silverlight Web experiences that target Silverlight 1.1. The SDK contains documentation and samples along with templates for Visual Studio.
- Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 (Evaluation is available for Windows): Extend the integration and productivity benefits of Visual Studio for developers to the entire software development team. Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Studio share the same project and file formats, enabling developers and designers to collaborate freely while maintaining creative control.
- Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2: Experience the next generation of Visual Studio. If you want to develop Silverlight applications targeting Silverlight 1.1 Alpha, this is required.
- Microsoft ASP.NET Futures (July 2007): Compatible with both Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008, this package contains ASP.NET-based Silverlight controls.
- Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar: Quickly create, understand, and troubleshoot Web pages with these tools—for free.
If you find the installation links confusing at Microsoft Silverlight page, here is their installation page.