Microsoft to Release Silverlight 2 Tuesday

Microsoft officially announced the release of its Silverlight 2 media player today; the new version will be available for download starting tomorrow. Microsoft also said it’s signed up new customers for the video player, including CBS College Sports.

The Silverlight 2 beta underwent a pretty massive stress test as it was the video player NBC used for the most recent Olympics; according to a Microsoft press release, the player served up 70 million video streams and 600 million minutes of video watched. Silverlight was also used by broadcasters in France, Russia and other countries to deliver the games online.

But the Olympics did more than put Silverlight through its paces. Microsoft said that the Olympics boosted its market penetration for Silverlight in the U.S. by more than 30 percent. But that stat rings a little hollow as the company didn’t offer up a definitive number of people using Silverlight.

On a conference call today, Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer division at Microsoft, said that “one in four consumers now have access to a machine that has Silverlight installed,” and that he expects Silverlight to be running on hundreds of millions of PCs “very quickly.”

Microsoft also announced a host of new customers that will be using Silverlight, including CBS College Sports, Blockbuster’s MovieLink movie service, Home Shopping Network and Hard Rock Cafe International.

The online video battle between Microsoft and Adobe is certainly heating up. Silverlight 2 is available imminently and Adobe’s Flash 10 is in beta.