MS piggybacks on Olympics fever to boost Silverlight

Partners with NBC

Olympics fever has taken over the world, and Microsoft has come up with a clever idea to boost the use of Silverlight: Partner with NBC to show clips of Olympic competitions with the Silverlight player.

In the United States, the official online destination for video from the Beijing games is NBCOlympics.com. Many viewers will want to bypass athlete profiles and other lightweight content and get straight to the business of watching video from the events. If you're using Firefox or an older version of Internet Explorer, you'll be prompted to install the Silverlight plugin. On IE 6, you can opt not to install Silverlight and get the video through an MSN page, but for the 2.x version of Firefox that I'm using, it's Silverlight or nothing. (However, the NBCOlympics.com front page uses Adobe Flash, one of the top platforms for online animation and video, and Silverlight's main competitor).

Microsoft has tried a number of tactics to get Silverlight into the marketplace, but the NBC partnership actually has legs. It's bound to put Silverlight on millions of PCs, and set the stage for future expansion -- and erosion of Adobe's dominant position.

Someone at Microsoft deserves a gold medal for this.

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Ian Lamont

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