Although Microsoft's Silverlight was originally conceived as a competitor to Adobe Flash, it now finds itself competing with Abobe's Web 2.0 platform, Adobe Air.
The harsh truth is, Microsoft Silverlight has already fallen considerably behind Adobe Air and typical for a Microsoft product on Mac, it's prone to bugs. In typically Microsoft style, the software giant has surely missed the boat by aiming at a replacement for Adobe Flash when the web world was already shifting towards interactive Web 2.0 platforms such as Adobe Air.
Microsoft Silverlight is a lightweight plug-in that allows you to watch Silverlight-based content in your browser. It works with most major browsers, including Firefox and Safari. There is no prompt to restart the browser after installation but I recommend you do so because the first site of Silverlight content I accessed after installation simply crashed the browser.
The most important improvements to the latest version of Microsoft Silverlight are smoother streaming, DRM management, and an out-of browser player. The out-of browser player however is dependent on developers embracing it and as yet, there are few examples available. The smooth streaming feature will iron out many of the streaming problems that have plagued Silverlight in the past. If your bandwidth drops below 3Mbps, smooth streaming will kick-in so that your video isn't affected.
Microsoft Silverlight can stream high-resolution video well and supports HD-quality videos. If you want to create content for Silverlight, you'll need Expression Studio and Visual Studio. In fact, this latest release is is of particular interest to developers because it adds 60 customizable controls, new layout containers, 'deep linking' for page bookmarking, search engine optimization, and enhanced data support.
The signs are, however, that Microsoft has already realized that the battle for web content is being won by the much slicker and more stable Adobe Air platform, and is therefore aiming Silverlight at business users. The Silverlight homepage boasts: 'Learn how Silverlight is right for your business'. It points out that companies such as Continental Airlines have adopted Microsoft Silverlight for use in their reservation system showing that Microsoft knows which side its bread is buttered on.
Microsoft Silverlight has probably missed the boat as far as Web 2.0 goes, although there's probably no way Mac users can avoid it since there will always be some websites that opt to stream content with Silverlight rather than Flash.
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