Microsoft announced today that that they would be shutting down their Popfly simplified Silverlight programming tooling project:
We want to thank everyone who registered for and used Popfly. We’ve been fortunate enough to see all the innovative mashups, Web pages, and games you’ve created since we launched Popfly two years ago and it’s been a pleasure to watch the spirit of creativity flow through a growing Popfly community over the life of the product.
Unfortunately, on August 24, 2009 the Popfly service will be discontinued and all sites, references, and resources will be taken down. At that time, your access to your Popfly account, including any games and mashups that you have created, will be discontinued.
Popfly seems to have never found an audience presumably because there is a point beyond which you cannot simplify programming if you want to produce something useful.
Microsoft has released Silverlight 3, the latest version of their rich media application platform which rivals Adobe Flash. In addition, a release candidate of Expression Blend 3, the Silverlight development tooling, has also been released with a promise of the full Expression 3 family of Web development products shipping within 30 days.
You can hit the websites for Silverlight or the Expression family or the combination for much more detail, but Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie offers a succinct summary of what is new. My choices for the high points:
Silverlight 3 enables applications to run outside the browser and taken offline. Users can safely install web applications on their computers, and create persistent shortcuts to them on the desktop, start menu and taskbar (this is supported on both Windows and the Mac).
Silverlight 3 now supports hardware graphics acceleration and HD video. IIS Media Services is a free server product that complements Silverlight and provides the ability to efficiently stream media over HTTP. It enables both on-demand and live HD video to be delivered using “smooth streaming” – which is an adaptive streaming algorithm that can deliver video at bitrates optimized for a client’s network conditions and CPU capabilities.
Free download that enables Silverlight 3 development support for VS 2008 and the free Visual Web Developer 2008 Express.
The latter has the potential to really explode Silverlight adoption by placing the bar to entry very low. On the other hand, I found the IIS Media Services demo to be anything but smooth streaming.
Finally, per Scott Guthrie, "Expression Studio 3 will be included as part of the MSDN Premium and higher subscriptions (meaning MSDN Premium customers don’t have to pay anything extra to get all of the Expression Studio products). " This apparently ends the furor over whether developers with MSDN subscriptions should get access to "designer" tools as part of the subscription.
When Microsoft christened their "Flash Killer" technology as Silverlight in April, 2007, one of the reference customers was Major League Baseball. Today Adobe announced that MLB is switching to Adobe’s Flash technology for their online video needs:
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, and Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced a two-year agreement in which MLB.com has selected the Adobe® Flash® Platform to deliver all of its live and on-demand video offerings beginning in 2009. In addition, MLB.com will provide a downloadable rich Internet application (RIA) built using Adobe AIR™, so baseball fans can access additional features outside the Web browser.
MLB.com streams live every Major League spring training, regular season and postseason game, more than 2,500 annually, via its out-of-market subscription product, which has seen more than 1.5 million total subscribers since its debut on Opening Day 2003. Since that time, fans have accessed more than 1.8 billion streams of live and on-demand multimedia offerings on MLB.com, representing nearly 200 million hours of participation. By the end of 2008, MLB.com will once again stream nearly 12,000 live video events, including Major League Baseball games and thousands of events for its various business partners.
There’s no word on any functional basis for the switch or on financial terms, but Adobe is undoubtedly paying for the privilege.
This week Microsoft released version 2 of Silverlight, their alternative to Adobe Flash for providing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). There were various functional enhancements including the promised Silverlight DRM for content protection as well as new cross platform support (see Tim Anderson’s caveat), but I found myself counting the house:
We launched Silverlight just over a year ago, and already one in four consumers worldwide has access to a computer with Silverlight already installed,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division at Microsoft.
Silverlight adoption continues to grow rapidly, with penetration in some countries approaching 50 percent and a growing ecosystem that includes more than 150 partners and tens of thousands of applications. During the 17 days of the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, NBCOlympics.com, powered by Silverlight, had more than 50 million unique visitors, resulting in 1.3 billion page views, 70 million video streams and 600 million minutes of video watched, increasing the average time on the site (from 3 minutes to 27 minutes) and Silverlight market penetration in the U.S. by more than 30 percent. Broadcasters in France (France Televisions SA), the Netherlands (NOS), Russia (Sportbox.ru) and Italy (RAI) also chose Silverlight to deliver Olympics coverage online. In addition, leading companies such as CBS College Sports, Blockbuster Inc., Hard Rock Cafe International Inc., Yahoo! Japan, AOL LLC, Toyota Motor Corp., HSN Inc. and Tencent Inc. are building their next-generation experiences using Silverlight.
Microsoft’s goal is to reach the point where the average, unsubsidized Web developer building a rich content site makes the decision for Flash or Silverlight based on other criteria than the ubiquity of the respective browser plug-ins. They clearly haven’t achieved that yet, but it appears that they have made good progress.