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NAB: Microsoft shows Flash and QuickTime rival

Microsoft will provide a beta of Silverlight at the end of the month. Currently a technology preview version is available for download.

Silverlight enables content creators to incorporate video and animation as part of their web content. Provides a way to display vector graphics, text, animations, media, and overlays. Silverlight does not require any special deployment environment and integrates with already available tools such as Apache and PHP, JavaScript and XHTML.

Silverlight is intended for content providers who want to distribute video and other multimedia materials on the web, as well as designers and developers working with interactive applications. The software works with Mac under Firefox or Safari. In Windows it also supports Internet Explorer 7.

Microsoft has already signed some deals to distribute Silverlight content, including companies like Akamai Technologies, Brightcover, Eyeblaster, Major League Baseball, and Netflix.

Microsoft has developed a set of tools, called Expression, that enables you to develop content for Silverlight. Expression (compatible only with Windows), has been positioned as an alternative to Adobe’s Creative Suite 3 software, and its availability is scheduled for next June.

Silverlight can play 720P high definition quality video (the same resolution supported by HD-DVD and Blue-Ray discs). Depending on the available bandwidth, the videos begin to play immediately or after a few seconds in which the data is stored in the cache memory.

Silverlight uses the VC-1 video codec originally developed by Microsoft as Windows Media Video 9 and is now available as an open standard.

The system requirements for Silverlight are a G3 500 MHz or faster (including Intel equipment) and Firefox 1.5.08 or later or Safari 2.0.4 or later.