Silverlight Gets Embedded, Looks to Conquer the CE Market

Now that Silverlight has reached decent traction in the PC and mobile space, Microsoft (s MSFT) is working to get the rich Internet application framework deployed on connected CE devices. New partnerships with Intel (s INTC) and Broadcom (s BRCM) will get Silverlight included in system-on-chip (SoC) reference designs used by next-generation consumer electronics (CE) devices.

Microsoft’s announcement with Intel and Broadcom is the first step to a broader CE strategy; as reference designs become available, CE manufacturers will soon have native Silverlight support available for Broadcom BCM7420 and Intel CE4100-based connected devices. Once embedded, media companies will soon be able to build interactive experiences using Silverlight that can be delivered directly to the TV through supported set-top boxes, HDTVs and Blu-ray players due to hit the market later this year.

Integrated Silverlight support will include all the features and functionality that are enabled in the downloadable PC client, including PlayReady DRM, DVR-like capabilities and adaptive bitrate streaming support. As a result, media companies will be able to build experiences through Silverlight that are supported across all three screens.

While the partnerships with Intel and Broadcom could help spur Silverlight development for CE devices in the near future, Microsoft still trails Adobe (s ADBE) in getting its rich Internet application framework embedded. Adobe released similar announcements more than a year ago at CES that they’d struck deals with Intel, Broadcom and Sigma Designs to to have its Flash technology embedded on CE devices. And Flash is already being used by device manufacturers like Vizio in their products.

In addition to adding support for CE devices, Microsoft made a series of other announcements around Silverlight and its IIS Media Services 4 streaming server. Updates to the server include the ability to serve both Silverlight and HTTP video, enabling customers to deliver content to the Silverlight PC client as well as to HTML5-supported devices such as Apple’s iPad.
The server can also now deliver multicast video using Silverlight’s smooth streaming HTTP-based adaptive bitrate technology, functionality that was previously only supported by Windows Media Server. And it now also supports both VC1 and H.264 encoding for live smooth streaming events with PlayReady DRM.

In order to help more publishers get on board with deploying Silverlight for their web video experiences, Microsoft is also releasing the Silverlight Media Framework 2.0, which will provide player designs and code examples from multiple live and on-demand video deployments that Silverlight has been used for over the years. The idea is to enable developers to reuse code and build experiences on top of the video players and other components used by previous Silverlight customers, such as NBC (s GE). By doing so, they can more quickly create customized Silverlight experiences for their own web sites.

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