Introducing Microsoft Silverlight

Introducing Microsoft Silverlight

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It is with tremendous pleasure that I can reveal Microsoft Silverlight: our next-generation, cross-platform, cross-browser web client runtime. Silverlight (previously codenamed "WPF/E") is a lightweight subset of XAML for building rich media experiences on the web.

There's lots of material at the NAB virtual press room site, but I thought I'd share my top ten list of reasons why you might want to use Silverlight:

  1. It supports playback of WMV files on both PC and Macintosh, with many options for interactivity during playback; with just a couple of lines of code, you can provide a platform-neutral way to handle all your movie files. Silverlight supports full-screen 720p video and offers seamless transitions between full-screen and windowed mode without losing your position in the video (something that media sites are crying out for today). 
  2. By separating markup (XAML) from code, Silverlight provides a familiar web metaphor for designers and developers. You can embed XAML directly within an HTML file if you want a simple, monolithic solution, or you can keep the two separate to enforce a delineation between different web development roles.
  3. Silverlight and HTML integrate seamlessly together. Every XAML element can be accessed or manipulated from the same client-side JavaScript that would be used to interact with any DHTML element: there are no artificial boundaries or barriers, and you can even overlay HTML elements on top of Silverlight content (simply by creating a windowless frame). We'll also make it very easy for an ASP.NET AJAX developer to add Silverlight content.
  4. You can embed XAML directly into your HTML pages; there's nothing binary or opaque about the format. There are only three steps necessary to add animation or media to your RIA application: (i) include a standard JavaScript file in your HTML header; (ii) call a function to create the Silverlight object anywhere on the screen; (iii) add some XAML content (an animation, some media) for runtime delivery.
  5. You have full runtime interactivity with Silverlight content. The contents of the XAML file can be completely server-generated, to contain information populated from a database. From JavaScript, it's just a matter of calling the createFromXaml method to add or remove elements dynamically at runtime. There's nothing that you can only create or manipulate at design-time.
  6. Silverlight is just a 1MB download on a PC (slightly more on a Macintosh because the universal package contains both Intel and PowerPC versions); it supports Windows XP and above, with Windows 2000 support to come.
  7. Silverlight is blindingly fast - for example, you can play many videos simultaneously without stuttering or dropping frames (subject to network bandwidth, of course). We're introducing a new video brush in Silverlight that allows you to use video as a texture for any 2D object (a rectangle, an ellipse or a path). This is going to allow designers incredible power to use media in new ways that have never been accessible through other existing technologies.
  8. Silverlight is both client- and server-agnostic. There's no difference between the Macintosh and PC runtimes; you don't need any Microsoft software on the server if you don't want to - you can deliver a great Silverlight experience from an Apache / Linux server to a Mac OS 10.4 client.
  9. Silverlight is almost 100% upward compatible with WPF. Animation, 2D vector graphics, media, text - they're all present in Silverlight and the concepts you've learnt in WPF carry forward (although Silverlight is a subset - it doesn't support WPF features such as 3D, data binding or templates). You can use the same tools (e.g. Expression Design) to generate content for Silverlight; you can take XAML from Silverlight and use it in a WPF application when you want to scale up and take full advantage of your local machine.
  10. Ah... #10. I can't reveal this yet - there's a big surprise up our collective corporate sleeve that will be announced at MIX. I hate to hold back on you, but anticipation is part of the pleasure, as my mother used to tell me as a child when I was waiting impatiently for Christmas to come!

Now that Windows Vista is done, I'll be shifting the focus of my blog slightly - I'll still write just as much about WPF, but I'll also start to write about its web-based little brother, since they both are part of the same continuum and my day-to-day job incorporates both technologies equally. Rich interactive web-based and Windows-based content; it's an exciting time to be a client platform evangelist!

  • Many of you have heard of WPF/e , or Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere . Well it was just announced

  • Annoncé en exclusivité à la conférence NAB , le nom final du projet connu sous le nom de code WPF/e est

  • Microsoft changed the name of WPF/E to Microsoft Silverlight. This has to be the first time I've

  • WPF/E ganhou seu nome de mercado Silverlight. Como disse em um post anterior precisávamos de um nome

  • New video brush, what's wrong with the original Video Brush in WPF.  Do you mean new to Silverlight?

    No Databinding!!  That's like C# without classes !  It makes porting code between WPF and Silverlight very difficult.  It basically removes the whole MVC architecture.  

    No templates imply that there won't be any real ItemsControl support either (listboxes etc).  If there is then it's going to be really limited and perform like a dog for large lists.

    So will no. 10 be the not so secret cross platform mini runtime?  I hope this makes it into v.1.  I also hope this makes it onto my phone, zune and some future XBOX RIA platform.

  • Where's the Linux download?

    No Linux = not cross platform.

  • Will there be Linux client support like Flashplayer?

    What about Solaris and *BSD ?

  • No Linux = not cross platform

    I would say more:

    No open source = not cross platform

  • If this is wmv only then "a platform-neutral way to handle all your movie files" only holds true if all of your movie files are wmv - I don't have a single one on my hard drive (unless there are some tucked away in the system folders being used for stuff built into Windows)

    So unless this also works with other video formats I'm decidedly unexcited

  • I won't use it unless there is a Linux client. Compatibility should be top priority.

  • Tim Sneath : It is with tremendous pleasure that I can reveal Microsoft Silverlight : our next-generation,

  • Well, the cat is out of the bag ! "WPF/E" now has a real name: Microsoft Silverlight . There's a lot

  • Amazing. Cross-platform compatible usually means that it can handle Windows and Macintosh at minimum (and should also include Linux). They even claim Mac compatibility. Too bad the demo video won't play on my Mac; neither inline in the Web page nor if I download the stand-alone file.


  • Tragic. Microsoft loses .00001% of the user community, which detests them anyway, by not supporting Silverlight on Linux. I love how MSFT treats those particular losers for what they are. Obviously MSFT could support Linux as the code already runs on unix. HAHAHA, boohoo it isn't open source, boohoo MSFT doesn't love us. When will they ever tire of barking at the moon?

  • #10 Is open source.

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