Update on Silverlight 2 - and a glimpse of Silverlight 3
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by Scott Guthrie
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Media Experiences

Silverlight 2 enables the highest quality video on the web, and delivers it with the lowest TCO of any media platform.

One of the capabilities built-into Silverlight 2 is its support for "adaptive streaming" - which enables video to be delivered at multiple bitrates (for example: 400Kbits, 800Kbits, 1.5Mbits, 2Mbits) with Silverlight dynamically choosing the optimal bitrate to use depending on the network bandwidth and CPU capability of the client (it can also automatically switch bitrates seamlessly if conditions change later). 

Silverlight's adaptive streaming support is extensible.  Move Networks (who helped pioneer the concept of adaptive streaming) have already integrated their adaptive streaming solution with Silverlight.  Silverlight 2 and Move were used to stream the Democratic National Convention live on the web this summer. 

Last month we announced that Microsoft will be adding adaptive streaming support as a free feature of our IIS7 web-server.  IIS Smooth Streaming will provide an integrated way to deliver HD quality adaptive video over the web. Visit Akamai's www.smoothhd.com site to see some awesome examples of Silverlight 2 and IIS Smooth Streaming in action (with adaptive streaming up to 2.5Mbits).

The NBC Olympics site used Silverlight 2 to serve more than 3,500 hours of live and on-demand Olympic coverage to over 60 million unique visitors this summer.  Visitors to the site watched an average of 27 minutes of video - which is stunningly high for online video.  The site used the new Silverlight adaptive streaming capability to support 1.5Mbit bitrates - which helped deliver an awesome video experience:

Figure 1

In addition to powering the Olympics experience in the US, Silverlight was also used in France (by FranceTV), the Netherlands (by NOS), Russia (by Sportbox.ru) and Italy (by RAI).  In addition to video quality, a big reason behind these broadcasters decision to use Silverlight was the TCO and streaming cost difference Silverlight provided.  In the August 2008 edition of Web Designer Magazine (a Dutch publication) a NOS representative reported that they were able to serve 100,000 concurrent users using Silverlight and 40 Windows Media Servers, whereas it would have required 270 servers if they had used Flash Media Servers.

Over the last month we've seen several major new deployments of Silverlight for media scenarios.  For example: CBS College Sports is now using Silverlight to stream NCAA events from its 170 partner colleges and university.  Blockbuster is replacing Flash with Silverlight for its MovieLink application. And Netflix two weeks ago rolled out its new Instant Watch service using Silverlight.

Figure 2

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