Who Sees the Light in Silverlight?

silverlight.jpgThe blogosphere is abuzz over Silverlight, a just-introduced browser plug-in from Microsoft that promises it can “deliver media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web that incorporate video, animation, interactivity, and stunning user interfaces.”

It also promises full cross-platform integration and “seamless, fast installation for users.” CBS will adopt it, so will rich media ad vendors Brightcove and Eyeblaster, and brands including Major League Baseball and Netflix.

Small wonder our curiosity is piqued — what will the advertising implications be?

Small stumbling block involving end-user implications. I downloaded and installed the plug-in. Several times. It refuses to run on Firefox, Safari or IE on my Mac (or our news editor’s Mac).

OK, so we can’t experience the wonders of Silverlight on the Web. Let’s just download the movie and see what this baby can do.

Would you believe it? (Sadly, yes. It’s all just too plausible.) The .wmv movie won’t even play in Microsoft’s own Window Media Player. Something about the wrong codecs. Handy-dandy open-source VLC to the rescue — as always.

While Microsoft promises Silverlight is good-to-go for us Mac users, we see things a bit differently.

We’re going to follow up on what advertisers think Silverlight can do for them. But it’s hard to believe it’s going to be widely adopted until it can deliver on its claims, promises and value propositions.

Update: A new version of the plug-in did install and work on my PowerBook. Playback of Microsoft’s demo video was less than smooth, but at least a functional release is out.
It’s still very hard to understand why utterly non-functional releases go public, though.

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