Microsoft shines cool on WPF/E, turns on Silverlight – Long wins first prize for cheeky article titles

During November of 2006, Mary Jo “Watcher” Foley asked “Can Microsoft brand its way to coolness?” . The answer as of April 2007 is a confident “Yes!”, that is until Microsoft releases the “Zune 2″. God bless the Zune team.

SilverlightToday Microsoft announced Silverlight, the official ‘hip’ name for the web-application technology otherwise known as Codename Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E) for the past 12 months. The announcement was such a success, it completely obliterated Adobe’s competing Flash-video announcement like Novell infrastructure in a blender. But it worries me that a lot of media publications and even technical bloggers think Silverlight is some sort of video-player including the notable Business Week.

Microsoft Aims to Outshine Adobe’s Flash
In a bid to capitalize on the burgeoning online video market, the tech titan is launching Silverlight, its new video-player software…let users trigger videos by clicking in a browser window

Silverlight is not a video-player. Silverlight is not a YouTube competitor. Silverlight is technically not even new. WPF/E has had VC-1 video capabilities since last December, which is amazing in its own rights, but that’s not Silverlight as a whole. Silverlight is an (exciting) platform which has video playback capabilities, which allows for YouTube competitors to be developed.

MSN SoapboxSpeaking of which, anyone want to place bets on Microsoft’s own Soapbox to use Silverlight soon? I have a feeling the recent closure of Soapbox to new users is not only limited to piracy concerns, but also preparations for a migration away from Flash to Silverlight.

This announcement certainly generated the interest Microsoft wanted. The original WPF/E announcement didn’t catch on with most media-types, giving it less than a paragraph alongside the original WPF announcement in 2005. I must admit, I loved the WPF/E name. It’s technically spot-on – Windows Presentation Foundation, everywhere. Albeit it broke every naming rule for products, but you could guess what it was without reading up Wikipedia on it. Silverlight on the other hand is cool, abstract and low on word-counts – something a bit more approachable by the general audience.

Expression BlendIn a way, I miss the technical names such as “Expression Interactive Designer”. No one ever asks “what is Expression Interactive Designer”, but everyone asks “what is Expression Blend“. I don’t think this is a dying trend – it’s a marketer’s dream, but a lot more questions are going to be asked.

Since everyone else is talking about the media experiences with Silverlight, I should put in my own 2 pennies.

  1. Finally, Mac users can stop whining about WMV9 and WMV-HD not playable on the Mac. It’s not yet a desktop-application, but I’m sure someone can hack together an OS X video player with WPF/e Silverlight, enabling the WMV-codec.
  2. Enabling a worthy competitor to apple.com/trailers. It’s no surprise now if you want the best collection of movie trailers at the highest possible quality, you go to Apple.com. There’s no denying Quicktime H.264 is drop-dead gorgeous. WMV-HD (also VC-1 based) in practice is equally if not better in quality, but it isn’t cross-platform compatible so it didn’t get the attention it deserves. Now with the VC-1 codec (the same codec used in HD-DVD/Blu-Ray) built-in Silverlight, someone out there (no pressure on Microsoft) could build an even higher-quality trailers archive and steal all of that traffic from Apple.

Hopefully Microsoft will announce something cool at MIX07 in 2 weeks’ time.

18 insightful thoughts

  1. Freakin’ awesome! Before Quicktime for Windows came out, internet video (on a slow connection) was pretty much the worst thing ever. EVER!

    What point is there in having a slider in Windows Media Player when you can’t use it? Quicktime rules! Hopefully Silverlight will challenge it.

  2. I second the movie trailer site, Microsoft should have dealt with that issue ages ago… that’s the only reason I even have quicktime codecs installed!

  3. “Before Quicktime for Windows came out, internet video (on a slow connection) was pretty much the worst thing ever.”

    QuickTime for Windows actually predated the arrival of Netscape 2 and browser plugins.

    Searching on phrase “San Francisco Canyon Company” will reveal much of the sordid history.

    jd/adobe

  4. Pingback: Bryan Starbuck
  5. boooooooring.

    Okay so I can develop for this Silverlight thingy… only bummer is that a) there are only 10 people out there in WWW land that can view my content… b) every single one of of my clients want Flash content developed. I think I might put this into the too little too late category.

    Another technology where Microsoft simply missed the boat with this one as with so many other things… search, online apps, the list goes on and on and on…

    As Wired magazine said the best move for Microsoft would be to buy Google and Myspace and be done with it… only bummer is that their 33 billion dollar war chest wouldn’t even afford them to buy Google. Let alone both.

    As per usual Microsoft do what they do best… copy not innovate. as I said pretty lame and booooooooring.

  6. and what’s with the name… Silverlight? Come on… that’s like they used the MS Word thesaurus to find a synonym for Flash…

  7. Hi, I found this article while searching for help with fixing Microsoft Silverlight. I have recently changed browsers from Chrome to Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. Just recently I seem to have a problem with loading sites that have Microsoft Silverlight. Everytime I browse site that requires Microsoft Silverlight, my browser freezes and I get a “npctrl.dll” error. I can’t seem to find out how to fix the problem. Any aid getting Microsoft Silverlight to function is very appreciated! Thanks

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