Microsoft's Silverlight to support streaming HD Flash video

Silverlight 3 will be able to play high-definition Flash video and music in iTunes' AAC format

Microsoft said on Tuesday that the next version of its Silverlight media player, due early next year, will be able to play live high-definition video encoded for rival Adobe Systems' Flash player.

Users of Silverlight 3 will also be able to listen to streaming music encoded in the same format used by Apple's iTunes player.

Adding support for the H.264 video compression formats based on the increasingly popular MPEG-4 standard won't necessarily make Silverlight-viewed video look better.

Nor will supporting the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec allow Silverlight to play music stored locally by iTunes, due in part to Apple Inc.'s restrictions, said Steven Sklepowich, group product manager for Silverlight Media.

But it will prepare Silverlight 3, which will ship in the first quarter of next year, to play a much wider variety of the streamed HD video and high-fidelity music that broadcasters are expected to bring online.

"We are becoming more of an open runtime environment," Sklepowich said.

Silverlight is a Web browser plug-in that allows users to watch or listen to streaming multimedia. It differs from Microsoft's Windows Media Player, which is mostly used to play back media already downloaded off the Internet.

When Microsoft first released Silverlight last year, to compete with Flash, it required broadcasters to encode video in the VC-1 codec, a now-open standard for HD DVDs and Blu-ray Discs based on Windows Media formats.

VC-1 enabled true DVD-quality streaming video that is much higher quality than the Flash video on sites such as YouTube, where most of the videos are still encoded in the H.263 codec. Such files are streamed to Web browsers, which cache them as .flv files.

Adobe has since updated its Flash 9 player to play HD H.264 video files, which are stored temporarily as .f4v files. Both .f4v and .flv are different than .swf files, which can be downloaded and played by Flash offline (Silverlight today plays streamed video in the .asf file container format.)

Silverlight 3 won't be able to play .flv or .swf content, said Sklepowich. But it will be able to play H.264-based .f4v content.

Microsoft had long resisted calls to make its Silverlight player more compatible with Adobe's. Adobe says that last year 70 percent of Web video was streamed via Flash's .flv format.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags silverlight

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?