Silverlight 2 has made its way onto 100 million consumer PCs and it has also been recently published to Microsoft Update for deployment across enterprises, reveals Scott Guthrie in a recent blog post. That means that 1 in 4 machines on the internet now have some version of Silverlight installed, he says. So far, Silverlight 2 has been used on some major web properties, including the NBC Olympics site, the DNC’s live streaming coverage, CBS College Sports, the new AOL Mail, Blockbuster’s MovieLink application, and Netflix’s new streaming service. In addition, Microsoft is using the plugin to deliver the Windows Live Team's new photo application (photos.live.com) and video communications application (videomessages.live.com) as well as the new MSN Toolbar.
So what’s next for this plugin? According to Scott, Silverlight 3 is going to be shipped next year and will include several additional features, only some of which he could reveal now. With the new version of Silverlight, there will be major media enhancements, (including support for H.264/AAC video), major graphics enhancements (including 3D support and GPU hardware acceleration), and major application development enhancements (including richer data-binding support and additional controls). Also next year, Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer Express will support a fully editable and interactive designer for Silverlight and will add tool support for data-binding:
With the additional video support in place, the online video market is going to be a major proving ground for the Silverlight plugin. One of the key selling points of Silverlight, at least to content owners, is its inclusion of DRM technology. Silverlight will provide digital rights management support built on Microsoft’s PlayReady content access technology on both Windows and Mac. Although DRM isn’t well-loved by content consumers, it often is a deciding factor for content owners in choosing which technology to implement. It should be interesting to watch as this space heats up over the coming months.
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