I'm here in Amsterdam with furious jetlag, but happy to finally be able to discuss one of big things I've been working on for a while. We've been working on using Silverlight to deliver full interactive movie experiences ala Blu-ray and DVD, liberated from the shiny disc. I've been frustrated for years that, despite the PC being a much deeper interactive platform than disc players, digital downloads so far have included much less interactivity than even basic DVDs. They've just been a rectangle of video and a single track of audio: no alternate language audio or subtitles, no menus, no extras, no director's commentary. With Silverlight, we're pushing hard to change that. We've now announced our first major customer: UK retail giant Tesco. Here's the press release, and the money quote:
Tesco, one of the world’s leading retailers, and Microsoft Corp., worldwide leader in software, today announced a collaboration to launch the next generation of home video viewing. The new service, built on Microsoft Silverlight technology, will deliver a similar level of quality as consumers have come to expect from DVD and Blu-ray, but with advanced Web-based interactivity and a viewing experience that goes beyond other digital playback products in the marketplace.
Starting in the autumn, Tesco will allow customers in the U.K. who purchase certain home video titles from Tesco to download “digital copy” versions of movies to their Windows-based or Apple Macintosh computers in a “virtual DVD” experience. The digital copy versions will include a similar level of video quality, interactivity and bonus content available on the physical products. In addition, the digital copy versions will provide consumers with extra network-connected features such as auto-updated trailers, exclusive bonus content, movie viewing parties with online chat, related music offerings such as MP3s and ring tones, and networked games.Yep, the goal is to provide everything that DVD and Blu-ray can do, and beyond. And it'll be launched by Tesco this fall. There's more details and a screenshot on the Silverlight Team Blog. This is going to be a very big deal, and I'll be talking about it plenty going forward.