SM East: Microsoft’s Bid To Beat Flash at the Plug-In Game

This morning’s keynote was Microsoft’s Sean Alexander giving a peek under the hood of its new Silverlight platform which offers a bi-platform (MacOS & Windows) browser plug-in rich media player that looks an awful lot like Flash. He also showed off MS’s new production suite offering design and authoring tools that look a lot like Adobe’s.

It’s an interesting challenge to Adobe’s Flash Video, especially since the media server is built-in to MS’s new server OS, and the plug-in is backwards compatible with older Windows Media versions. It also represents another sign that online video is busting out of the player and into the browser.

The problem for those of us in education and the grassroots is really choosing the platform you want to use so that your sites and content don’t look like 1999 web. Certainly, if your content is compelling and challenging compared to the mainstream that should bring people in. But in my everyday existence doing educational video I’m finding more students and faculty balking at having to use a player rather than watching right in the browser.

I don’t relish having to learn two entirely different development platforms, nor supporting both. For me, Flash is still ahead because it supports Linux, where Silverlight does not. Yet, as standards, neither are nearly as open as MPEG-4, or a codec unencumbered by patents and copyrights like Ogg Theora. Can the open source community meet this challenge?

Another question is: Where is Real Networks in all of this? Will their server start delivering Flash? Silverlight content? If Real won’t do these formats, or can’t offer something that competes in the browser, then their future isn’t looking so bright.

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One response to “SM East: Microsoft’s Bid To Beat Flash at the Plug-In Game”

  1. […] As I noted last month while attending Streaming Media East, Real definitely needs something to stay in the game, since the rise of Flash Video has moved the media player game into the browser, making the separate media player app seem like a quaint relic compared to Google Video. However, with Microsoft offering its own in-browser player to compete with Flash, adding a third plug-in player from Real would be absurd, and probably a losing strategy. […]

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