Later this week, at the International Broadcasting Conference (IBC) 2008 in Amsterdam, Microsoft will demonstrate a new capability for Silverlight - playback of H.264-based video.
At IBC 2008 Microsoft be demonstrating a technology preview of H.264 video and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) audio playback support in Silverlight, and H.264 authoring using Microsoft Expression Encoder and Windows Server 2008 for delivery. Until now, Silverlight has supported the SMPTE VC-1 and Windows Media formats, as well as MP3 for audio.
H.264 and AAC support will be available in a future version of Silverlight.
Historically, people have associated Microsoft with VC-1. However, the company has also been an active participant in the standardization of H.264/MPEG AVC for many years, and has included H.264 support in several Microsoft products.
According to Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft?s Developer Division and the head of the Silverlight design team, Silverlight is not moving away from Windows Media. "This is about offering our customers more choice," he said.
Silverlight adoption by media, broadcasting and content companies has continued to grow significantly in European markets, according to Microsoft. Examples include live and video-on-demand (VOD) offerings from France Television, ITV, L?Equipe TV, MSN UK, NRK, RAI, RTL, SBS, Setanta and TF1.
French VOD platform TF1 VISION will soon launch its new Silverlight-based service, which will offer new levels of interactivity to users on both Windows and Mac browsers. Utilizing a new feature called Deep Zoom, users will navigate, search and discover media from TF1 VISION?s library through a multi-dimensional visual interface and will then view the selected video through the TF1 VISION interactive Silverlight player.
In August, Microsoft also took an equity stake in Move Networks, a HTTP-based video delivery company. Move has developed an adaptive streaming technology that adjusts image quality to fit available bandwidth on each viewer?s Internet connection, creating a high-quality Internet television viewing experience.
"The combination of Microsoft and Move Networks? technologies allows users to experience high-quality, skip-free Internet television programming and allows media companies to insert branding, navigation, advertising and other rich interactive elements in and around their Internet television video streams," said Guthrie.
One of the key advantages of Silverlight 2, which will ship later this fall, is that it includes a cross-browser, cross-platform version of the Microsoft .NET Framework, specifically optimized for rich Internet applications (RIAs).
"That means you can build Silverlight applications using .NET languages, so the large talent pool of more than 4 million .NET developers worldwide can now create RIAs using their existing skills and tools, reducing time to market and raising quality for our customers," Guthrie added.
Silverlight 2 also includes built-in controls and skinning capabilities, giving developers a foundation for building applications.