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Originally published April 30, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 30, 2007 at 5:16 PM

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Microsoft unveils expanded Silverlight video platform

To cheers from an audience of Web developers, Microsoft today announced expanded capabilities for its new Silverlight video platform at...

Seattle Times technology reporter

LAS VEGAS — To cheers from an audience of Web developers, Microsoft today announced expanded capabilities for its new Silverlight video platform at a conference on the technology giant's plans for the next generation of applications.

The company said Silverlight, which will compete with the dominant Adobe Flash technology for delivering video on the Web, will now support Microsoft's widely used .NET programming language. YouTube, the popular user-generated video site, is built on the Adobe Flash platform.

Silverlight is part of Microsoft's broad "software plus services" strategy designed to allow developers to make more complicated applications that take advantage of the desktop's power and capabilities from the Internet.

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, made the announcement at Microsoft's Mix07 conference going on here this week.

"Certainly there are better languages than JavaScript for many sophisticated applications," Ozzie said. "This gives you a new choice."

It also will allow the legions of .NET developers familiar with the programming framework to use those skills for building Web applications, he said. The .NET framework supports more than 30 programming languages and is typically used for designing applications that run on the desktop.

Microsoft released a test version of Silverlight today and plans to have a final version available this summer.

Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, in an on stage demonstration, said the Silverlight technology will allow people to browse movies for instant watching online. The fast-starting Silverlight, he said, lets people watch a little bit of each movie before choosing which one to watch. It can also allow people to invite others to watch an online movie and chat about it via instant messenger.

Silverlight works on platforms from Microsoft competitors such as the Mac and Firefox Web browser.

"That's really important for us to get wide coverage for our user base," Hunt said.

In addition to the integration of .NET with Silverlight, Ozzie announced new application programming interfaces for several Windows Live applications. Developers could use these to make applications that include parts of Live technology, such as contacts and Internet search.

Ozzie also announced Silverlight Streaming, a hosted service that would allow developers to store and deliver their Web applications using Microsoft's servers. It "takes advantage of [Microsoft's] huge investments in services infrastructure," Ozzie said. One such example is the "server farm" Microsoft recently opened in Quincy, Grant County.

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The service will be free, "with some limits," he said, adding that Silverlight Streaming is "a sign of things to come" with regard to the company's broad strategy for software plus services.

Ozzie, who is leading the company's cross-company services efforts, said there are other "very significant" infrastructure projects under development at Microsoft that need more time to gestate before being announced broadly.

Benjamin J. Romano: bromano@seattletimes.com

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