Silverlight, Expression Encoder 1.0 released

It's been a long road, but today was the big day for Silverlight to hit the world. Scott Guthrie's Blog has got the best detailed summary of the ton of stuff that got announced today. There are four big things relevant to digital media I want to highlight before I hop on the plane for IBC. I'll be focusing on Silverlight and its scenarios on the blog for the rest of this month.

All drop by the Microsoft booth at IBC if you'd like to say hello and see some demos of both our new codec technologies and Silverlight.

Silverlight 1.0 is out!

The next generation web plugin for digital media is now a released 1.0, so non-early adopters can start installing it and content creators and developers can start authoring to it. Silverlight uses Windows Media for its digital media, so a huge library of compatible content is immediately available. And the current CDN ecosystem for hosting and streaming all works, using Windows Media Services as shipping. Silverlight contains its own implementation of the codecs inside itself, and so doesn't have any dependency on WMP or other OS features, so you'll get an identical experience wherever Silverlight is installed. The set of codecs supported in 1.0 are:

  • Windows Media Video 7
  • Windows Media Video 8
  • Windows Media Video 9
  • Windows Media Video 10 (progressive only)
  • Windows Media Audio "Standard" (tested with WMA 9.2 back to WMA 7 files, but the bitstream has been locked-down since WMA 2)
  • MP3 (in a .mp3 file)

Full details on media features are here.

Silverlight includes robust auto-update features, so support for additional codecs is certainly possible in the future. We'd appreciate any feedback on missing codecs and media features that are keeping anyone from adopting Silverlight today.

Expression Encoder 1.0 is out!

Expression Encoder (formerly Expression Media Encoder) is a new compression tool targeting Silverlight, (although its WMV files will play in all the standard players). Beyond being a great WMV encoder, its real killer feature is easy generation of a Silverlight player experience around the media asset, including subtitles/captioning, thumbnail-based visual navigation, etcetera. It's a deep product, and I'm going to be doing a much more in-depth analysis of it here soon.

One important thing to note about Expression Encoder is that it can be used to build the Silverlight player experience around an already encoded WMV file, so it can be used in conjunction with other compression tools.

Expression Encoder is based on the Windows Media Format SDK 11, so all the registry key tweaks I've been discussing on this blog work perfectly with it.

Silverlight for Linux is announced!

Good details on Miguel de Icaza's web log. In essence, we're partnering with Novell on their Moonlight implementation of Silverlight 1.0 and 1.1 (only 1.1 had been announced before). They'll be providing everything but the media codecs, which will be built by my team and provided via Microsoft.

So, Silverlight today has great reach for Windows and Mac (Intel and PowerPC), with Linux on the way.

Lots of content support!

For any new platform, the chicken-and-egg question is always paramount when discussing adoption - why should users install before there's content, and why should content publishers target it before users have installed it? That we're already compatible with a huge volume of WMV content is a big help here, of course. But nothing beats high-profile content companies targeting the format to get the installs out there (which is also a great validation of the unique value Silverlight provides).

Customers already deploying content include: MLB.com (Major League Baseball), Home Shopping Network, World Wrestling Entertainment, and the "Entertainment Tonight" show.

Silverlight is also now deployed on several Microsoft sites, including the Halo 3 preview site, including the HD version - I worked on the encoding workflow for these assets), Tafiti.com, MSN Extra, and MSN Podium '08. Silverlight will also be used in many other new and updated Microsoft properties.

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