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Silverlight has serious side, says Microsoft

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AJAXWorld Scott Guthrie has been making a serious business pitch for Microsoft's browser-based media player rival to Adobe Systems' Flash.

The corporate vice president of Microsoft's developer division has lobbied a Silicon Valley AJAX crowd to adopt yet another media player, when they are already comfortable with Adobe's Flash or have the skills to hack their AJAX in the browser.

Opening AJAXWorld in Adobe's back yard of San Jose, California, Guthrie claimed Silverlight offered better total cost of ownership (TCO) than "other" players. He was speaking the week after Microsoft and Adobe released Silverlight 2.0 and Flash 10 respectively.

He also suggested it would be worth targeting Silverlight as Microsoft is gunning for a mass-market - meaning a huge addressable audience. He claimed Silverlight is running on one quarter of the world's PCs a year after 1.0 launched. It wasn't clear whether this number applied to end-user PCs or developer workstations.

"The goal is to be completely ubiquitous from a deployment perspective," he promised.

Guthrie also stressed Siliverlight is not just for sports and entertainment. It's applicable to business apps, he said. This comes in a year when Microsoft's made a great deal of Silverlight streaming coverage of the Olympics online for US broadcast giant NBC.

"I don't want people to think Silverlight is all about guitars and athletes," Guthrie said. He went on to demonstrate using Silverlight in a medical portal, with the ability to view patient data visually and create 3D models with the data.

Guthrie, who runs development of core Windows development tools and runtimes, claimed Silverlight would deliver high-quality apps at a "very affordable price."

Guthrie's TCO is based on the fact that tools for Silverlight are available for free as a Software Developer Kit (SDK) or as a plug-in to the full Visual Studio and the free Visual Studio Web Developer Express environment for web and AJAX development.

Also, if you're on MSDN, you get your Visual Studio plus the newer Expression package as part of the subscription. You can, of course, chose to pay for the Visual Studio and Expression Studio, which is cheaper than Adobe's Creative Suite. But it's used a lot less in the content creation world and is less fully featured than Adobe.

The key message was the Visual Studio angle: You can re-use existing Windows programming skills. You can build Silverlight applications using Microsoft's C# and Visual Basic, in addition to non-Microsoft languages like Ruby and with JavaScript. Also, there's the advantage of integration with Windows features such as Microsoft's Windows Workflow.

It's a classic TCO pitch Microsoft has used in other areas, mostly Windows versus open source and Linux. The target this time is the need to buy and learn Adobe's Creative Suite or work with various AJAX plug-ins and fine-tune for different frameworks and browsers rather than work with the integrated Microsoft tools and runtime stack - Windows, Silverlight. and Internet Explorer.

Bootnotes

Guthrie said Microsoft would deliver its long-awaited Visual Studio Model View Controller (MVC) by the end of this year. MVC was released as an ASP.NET beta on Friday with a Microsoft go-live license for use minus Microsoft support, but was unveiled by Guthrie a year ago.

Microsoft's MVC has been built to give Visual Studio developers an MVC framework "out of the box," tuned to work with Microsoft's languages and the .NET Framework 3.5. Guthrie told The Reg Microsoft's MVC would be useful in three key scenarios: test-driven development, heavy unit testing, and Web 2.0 applications. He said developers could continue to use their own MVCs with Visual Studio. ®

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