The latest version of its Microsoft’s Silverlight platform for web applications and media will be available for download tomorrow. Silverlight 2 has been in testing mode since March, so many of the technical details were already available, but Microsoft today released more information about traction and partnerships, as well as announcing more open source support.
From the business side, Microsoft’s partner news may be the most relevant. CBS College Sports, Blockbuster, Hard Rock Cafe, Yahoo Japan, Toyota, HSN and Tencent are all building content in Silverlight. None of these deals is a knockout in and of itself, but together they show that Silverlight is still making inroads against Adobe‘s more established platform, Flash. Silverlight already received some high-profile exposure this summer when it provided the technology for NBC’s web coverage of the Olympics, as well as videos from the Democratic National Convention. (One of Silverlight’s big selling points has been its support for high-definition video and other media.)
In fact, Microsoft says Silverlight is now installed in one out of every four computers, and approaches 50 percent market penetration in some countries. Sure, that still isn’t in the Flash’s neighborhood (Flash tops 95 percent in most markets, according to Adobe), but it’s pretty impressive when you recall that Microsoft released Silverlight barely more than a year ago, in September 2007.
Microsoft also announced that it is funding a French company called Soyatec to integrate Silverlight development tools into the open source Eclipse development environment. Over at ZDNet, Adobe evangelist Ryan Stewart notes this should mean that developers will be able to build Silverlight apps on Macs and Linux, not just Windows PCs.
Users with older versions of Silverlight will automatically get updated to Silverlight 2. You can read about the other new features, including “deep zoom,” new digital rights management (DRM) and expanded advertiser support, in Microsoft’s press release.