Silverlight in the
Microsoft on Sept. 5 is expected to release to the Web Silverlight 1.0, a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering richer user experiences on the Web.
In addition, the Redmond, Wash., software maker has announced that it will work with Novell to deliver Silverlight support for Linux, an effort dubbed “Moonlight” that is based on the project started on mono-project.com.
The delivery of Silverlight 1.0, along with several user examples and a new partner program, is big news for the Microsoft technology, but that news is overshadowed by the companys sanction of the Moonlight project.
“This is a big day from where Im sitting,” said Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer platforms and leader of the Mono project at Novell, in Waltham, Mass. “This is a big effort on the part of Microsoft to work with Linux.”
Key takeaways from Microsofts announcements include the companys continued focus on its customers and its partnering with Novell as “a great extension to what weve been doing,” said Brian Goldfarb, group product manager of Microsofts Developer Division Platform & Tools Strategy.
“Explicit support for Moonlight shows that Microsoft is serious about challenging the conventional perceptions about how it competes in the market and that they are willing to do whatever it takes to establish an RIA [rich Internet application] platform with the broadest reach possible,” said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Microsofts competitors just cant credibly say, Silverlights a great piece of technology, but only works on Windows and IE. It puts pressure on other RIA platform providers to deliver a platform with an equally broad reach to developers—and to do so quickly.”
Chris Swenson, an analyst with The NPD Group, said the plug-ins being developed in the Mono project will give developers greater options.
“With the Linux version, developers will be able to target the .Net run-time on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms, something that gets a lot of .Net developers very excited,” Swenson said.
Microsofts Silverlight will light up Linux. Read Joe Wilcoxs blog.
When Microsoft announced Silverlight, a critical piece of feedback the company heard was about the “reach” of the technology, according to Goldfarb. “So we decided to do a partnership with Novell to deliver an implementation of Silverlight on Linux,” he said.
Novell was “quite excited about Silverlight when it was announced,” according to de Icaza. “We were watching it for some time, and when they began working on Silverlight 1.1, we really got interested.”
Knowing that Silverlight would see widespread adoption, Novell engineers built a prototype of Moonlight with the help of Microsoft officials and later showed a demo of the technology, he said. “Now we will deliver a complete Silverlight implementation for Linux called Moonlight, and it will have complete parity” with Silverlight, he said.
Moonlight will support all the major Linux distributions, including Ubuntu from Canonical, Red Hat and Novells own SUSE Linux, de Icaza said. >
Moonlight is “a complete reimplementation from scratch of the Silverlight specification,” he said. “Look at it like the TCP/IP spec. Today, were prototyping the [Silverlight] media stuff using an open-source library and using the Windows Media codec from Microsoft.”
Goldfarb said Novells approach of creating a reimplementation of Silverlight from scratch enables the company to deliver Moonlight as a true open-source project under an open-source license.
“We expect to have Moonlight available within six months,” de Icaza said, noting that Novell is waiting for a test suite to help with the creation of the technology. He also said Novell is working on a version of Moonlight to support Silverlight 1.1, which itself is still under development. “Were aiming to be as close as possible to the release of Silverlight 1.1” with a supporting Linux version, he said.
Moreover, although Novell is running the Moonlight project, as an open-source effort it is open to outside developers who wish to contribute. “The effort is open source, and all of our code is available in our repository,” de Icaza said.
Silverlight significantly reduces development and deployment costs and provides enhanced Web audio and video streaming and playback using Windows Media Technologies, according to Microsoft officials.
Page 2: Silverlight in the Moonlight
Silverlight Partner Initiative
“> Microsoft on Sept. 5 also is unveiling new Silverlight customer experiences on the Entertainment Tonight television news magazine, the Home Shopping Network and World Wrestling Entertainment, and also launched the Silverlight Partner Initiative, a program designed to foster collaboration among solution providers, content delivery networks, tools vendors and design agencies.
“Our expectations for compelling, immersive experiences on the Web are increasing daily,” Ray Ozzie, Microsofts chief software architect, said in a statement. “With todays release of Silverlight 1.0, were making it possible for developers and designers to deliver to individuals the kind of high-def experiences they crave by integrating data and services in rich and unique ways.”
Tom Spengler, CEO of Granicus, a San Francisco firm that specializes in providing streaming media solutions for governments with a strong emphasis on broadcasting public meetings live and on-demand, said he welcomes Silverlight 1.0.
“With Silverlight, Granicus is taking down the barriers in technology between Macs and PCs … enabling our customers to more efficiently and effectively reach their constituents 24/7,” Spengler said.
Granicus will be making Silverlight available to prospective clients and its entire client base of more than 300 governments, spanning 30 states, to expand their rich media communication capacity. “If a Linux-based Silverlight browser plug-in would enable our clients to reach their citizens more efficiently and cost-effectively, we support it,” Spengler said.
Javier Muniz, chief technology officer for Granicus, said Silverlight allows the company to transition from Windows Media Player without transcoding content.
“Adding interactive functionality to the video player and support for cross-platform development with the .Net framework will also be major innovation drivers among our client base,” Muniz said. “We are always looking for ways to increase our potential audience by targeting additional platforms, so a Linux version of Silverlight would be very positive for us.”
Advanced Publishing, in Saint John, New Brunswick, is “definitely using Silverlight for our new digital edition solution,” said Trish Connolly, the organizations president and CEO. “We are planning to launch our new product based on this format this week. We spent a number of months reviewing different technologies before selecting Silverlight as our chosen viewer format. We wanted to ensure that we would be able to provide the best viewing experience possible with strong security and data capabilities that would appeal to our publishing customers.”
Silverlight has significant benefits over other cross-browser formats—namely Flash and JPEG/HTML solutions—including data-driven capabilities, which enable better reader interaction with live data “to customize the reader experience and provide user-generated content features,” Connolly said.
In addition, she said, sharing features “allow for real-time sharing of content, both text and video.” There also are improvements in online video over Flash in scaling from HD to mobile, XML-based presentation for better search engine optimization for video and text content, and the ability to deliver content and allow access across multiple devices, she said.
“Having Silverlight available on Linux would certainly be a positive for us as we want to have our publications viewable by the largest population possible,” Connolly said. “We do understand that Moonlight … is in development and looks promising already.”
Major League Baseball Advanced Media, a subsidiary of MLB, in New York, has been using Silverlight on its portal for about a month for highlights and other video programming, said Matthew Gould, vice president of corporate communications. “In addition, weve also begun to integrate it into our news content. We are currently working to make Silverlight available for live baseball games on MLB.TV,” Gould said. “We believe all of these efforts, along with the Silverlight application, will bring our fans a more interactive and enticing media experience on MLB.com.”
John McDevitt, vice president of advanced services at the Home Shopping Network, told eWEEK that his network chose Silverlight because “Silverlight enables us to deliver a rich, engaging customer experience around video regardless of platform. It allows us to immerse the customer in our great brands and allows them to explore our products in a really fun and innovative way.”
HSN launched a “very preliminary beta version Silverlight player [on www.hsn.tv.],” McDevitt said. “While the page itself has not yet been fleshed out, the player is up and running, and looks great. We will continue to add features to the page and the player over time.”
Meanwhile, to foster greater involvement and collaboration within the interactive media industry, Microsoft is rolling out the Silverlight Partner Initiative. More than 35 companies have signed up to take advantage of a broad range of marketing and technical benefits being offered.
In addition to the release of Silverlight 1.0, Microsoft released Expression Encoder 1.0 (formerly Expression Media Encoder), a tool that simplifies the coding, enhancement and publishing of rich media content to Silverlight. Expression Encoder also eases production of live events using features such as multisource switching and publishing of content to services, including Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live, Microsoft officials said.