Microsoft Unveils New Browser-Based Video Platform at NAB in Las Vegas — Major League Baseball, Netflix and Brightcove will use Silverlight

By on 04/16/2007 12:01 AM @beet_tv

We’ve been reporting on developments with Microsoft’s new online video platform which had been called Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E). Today (Monday) in Las Vegas at NAB, Microsoft is taking the wraps off the new platform which is called Microsoft Silverlight.   It’s all part of the new Microsoft Expression initiative. 

It won’t go live for another two weeks, but we have the demo on Beet.TV (below).

Like the ubiquitous Adobe Flash video ecosystem, Silverlight will provide a range of authoring and encoding tools to create rich media, notably video. Like Flash, the new video will play on the browser (IE, Safari, Firefox) with the download of a 2 MB application.

Microsoft is selling authoring tools and there are editing and encoding programs to render the files which are based on Windows Media Video (WMV).  Pinnacle and Microsoft Movie Maker work.  If you’re editing and rendering in Final Cut Pro on a Mac, like we do at Beet.TV, you will need to purchase software to encode to the VC-1 video standard. 

In a new development since we first reported this, Silverlight files can be hosted on all major servers, including Linux — not just on Windows Media servers.

Microsoft is announcing partners in this new initiative including the big CDN players Akamai and Limelight. Also onboard is Netflix, which will stream movies starting in June, Major League Baseball and Brightcove.

On Sunday, Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire told me about company’s plans with Microsoft on this new initiative.  The former key Macromedia executive said that his company’s commitment to Adobe and Flash is deep and strong and will expand.  But, he sees a place for Microsoft’s new platform at Brightcove. Here’s what said in an e-mail exchange:

"We also plan to introduce support for streaming VC-1, which will offer a high-quality, cross-platform and secure format for commercial media in our platform. As we do more business with major broadcasters, including CBS, Fox, MTV Networks, etc., it’s important to be able to support multiple formats and technology for content protection that is accepted by the media industry."

In advance of the show, we were very fortunate to interview Microsoft’s Forest Key who explained this initiative. Known as the "man behind Expression," Forest is also a former Macromedia executive. His overview of Silverlight is  above and a very cool demo of the platform is below. 

— Andy Plesser

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