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!

  • No Linux, it will die. There is already flash for linux so therefore it will proliferate

  • Why do you call it cross-platform if it doesn'r work on Linux?

  • If they want to be "cross platform" they should have a GNU/Linux client. GNU/Linux is not just a Geek toy, most of the people I know that use only GNU/Linux are novices, not just to GNU/Linux but to computers.

    I love standards. I believe they are the foundation of the Internet, but they must be on GNU/Linux as well as Mac OS and Windows.

  • Why isn't there a version for Linux?

  • Microsoft hoy lanzó un nuevo formato y reproductor de video web que compite directamente contra Adobe Macromedia Flash y Apple Quicktime. Según Microsoft, su nueva tecnología que denomina Silverlight, es parecida a Flash en el sentido que se instala c

  • Adobe already has a product with wider customer base compatibility.  Why would anyone consider SilverLight?  To reduce their customer base?  To eliminate potential revenue?  To reduce customer satisfaction?  I'm not seeing a business reason to use this product over the (existing, established) competition.

    Are these just short-term limitations?  Is there a roadmap to expand the platform compatibility?  If so, what timeframes are we looking at?

  • It's been a busy day of announcements! Amidst the hubbub of the introduction of Silverlight, complete

  • That's great that it is for Mac and Windows...  I think you somehow forgot Unix/Linux.  Was that intentional?

  • Q: Is Microsoft considering support for additional operating systems?

    A: "Microsoft is gathering feedback from customers like you on Silverlight and to help determine which platforms should be supported in the future."

    Microsoft, don't ever claim Silverlight is "cross-platform" if you can't support other OSes besides Windows and Mac: why the need to ask for further feedback when it is obvious?

  • Microsoft has taken the covers off it’s high-def Flash competitor, Silverlight. The browser plugin is available for Windows & Mac for IE, Safari & Firefox (but not Opera for some reason). It’s still only the February WPF...

  • Microsoft have announced Microsoft Silverlight, our next generation, cross platform, cross browser runtime

  • Hello to a clean, well-lit name and good riddance to the worst code name ever, "WPF/E". Well, IceWeasel and Brady Bunch weren't stellar either but at least they were easier to type. Try typing "WPF/E" five times quickly and you'll...

  • At least they are "honest" that Sliverblight phones home WITH YOUR IP ADDRESS!

    “WPF/E” (codename) will periodically ping Microsoft.com to verify its integrity (at which point the only information that will be communicated will be your IP address and the module version).

  • Flash will win this war, silverLight has less functionality and is 10 years behind.

  • What do you get if you give WPF/E a sexy new name and a sexy new logo (So so pretty!)? .... You get Microsoft

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