Microsoft Releases Silverlight 3 a Day Early
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The official, "invitation only" launch party for the release of Microsoft's Silverlight 3 media streaming technology is still a day away, but apparently Microsoft couldn't wait to let it out of the gate.
On Thursday, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) quietly made the final code for the latest version of its competitor to Adobe's Flash available for download.
Silverlight 3's launch gala, however, won't happen until 10 a.m. Friday at San Francisco's luxurious Intercontinental Hotel. According to an e-mail accompanying the invitation, the roll out will be hosted by Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform, and Soma Somasegar, senior vice president of the developer division.
The latest release adds major media enhancements, including H.264 video support as well as 3D support and GPU hardware acceleration. It will also run applications outside a browser, including on mobile devices.
As it has in search, Microsoft has been trying to break open the streaming media marketplace for years. The company introduced Silverlight in spring 2007 and it has been a wild ride from there.
Microsoft has had some high-visibility customer wins against Adobe and its well-ensconced Flash technology. For instance, last summer, Microsoft used Silverlight to stream live coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It also streamed the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Additionally, Silverlight scored in February when Microsoft streamed the National Collegiate Athletic Association's March Madness college basketball championship.
At the same time, however, it failed to hang onto a deal it had with Major League Baseball when, at the end of last season, the boys of summer switched back to Flash for streaming games and on demand content.